Posted by: APO | 19 April 2008

Arms-ship’s hasty departure saves SA from further international embarrassment

An initiative of Solidarity

Media Statement

19th of April 2008

Arms-ship’s hasty departure saves SA from further international embarrassment

AfriForum’s protest at sea cancelled

AfriForum, the civil rights initiative established by Solidarity, has described the hasty departure of the Chinese ship – carrying an arms consignment intended for the Zimbabwean Army – from Durban Harbour as a step that “saved South Africa from further international embarrassment”, as the South African Government would have contravened the international Wassenaar Agreement with the transport of the arms across South African territory.  This international agreement, of which South Africa has been a member since 2006, stipulates that arms may not be transported to areas where they will be used to repress people or to commit human rights violations.

 

According to Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, the fact that South Africa has been saved from further embarrassment, is not due to Government’s actions, but rather in spite thereof.  The South African Government has already approved a permit on Monday for the transport of the arms consignment across South African territory and this process would probably have gone ahead if the court had not prevented it.  The South African Government’s approval of this process, has in Kriel’s opinion resulted in Government swopping its ineffective policy of “silent diplomacy” for an even more disastrous policy of “collusion” with the state violence and human rights violations committed by the Zimbabwean Government against its own citizens.

 

The departure of the Chinese ship from Durban Harbour has also resulted in the protest action planned by AfriForum for today, being cancelled.  AfriForum intended sailing with two boats to where the Chinese ship was anchored today, in order to protest against the ship’s presence and cargo.  Two large banners with the slogans “Zimbabwe needs Ballots, not Bullets” and “Take your weapons … and go Home!” have already been made and would have been displayed by the protestors to the crew of the ship.  AfriForum also planned to organise peaceful demonstrations all along the route followed by the arms consignment across South Africa.


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