Posted by: APO | 21 April 2008

Zimbabwe / AfriForum displays protest banners at Zimbabwean and Chinese embassies

Media Statement

21st of April 2008

AfriForum displays protest banners at Zimbabwean and Chinese embassies

 

The leadership of AfriForum, the civil rights initiative established by Solidarity, and a group of students today displayed protest banners against the Zimbabwean Defence Force’s purchase of arms from China at the Zimbabwean and Chinese Embassies in Pretoria.  The banner displayed at the Zimbabwean Embassy, read: “Zimbabwe needs Ballots, not Bullets“, while a banner displayed at the Chinese Embassy carried the message: “Take your weapons … and go HOME!“.  AfriForum would have displayed these banners in Durban this past Saturday with the aid of two chartered fishing boats at the site where the Chinese ship carrying the arms consignment had been anchored.  The protest action was however cancelled after the ship had hurriedly departed from South African territorial waters.  AfriForum also intended organising peaceful demonstrations along the route followed by the arms consignment across South Africa to Zimbabwe. Photographs of todays protest are available on request.

 

 

According to Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, today’s protest has been held in order to demonstrate resistance to efforts which are still being made to deliver these weapons via an alternative route through Angola to Zimbabwe.  “The fact that the weapons are intended for the Zimbabwean Defence Force – which has already indicated that it will not accept an election outcome which will oust Robert Mugabe from his seat as President – is reason enough for any government or civil rights organisation not to allow the abuse of their territory for enabling the armament of the Zimbabwean Defence Force,” Kriel said.

 

Kriel emphasised that if China were to continue providing arms to conflict areas in Africa such as Zimbabwe, African governments should oppose the growing level of involvement of China in Africa.  “The international protest actions against China’s human rights violations in Tibet, now have to be broadened also to expose China’s complicity to human rights violations in Zimbabwe,” Kriel added.

 

Kriel said that state violence in Zimbabwe not only has negative implications for Zimbabweans, but will also influence all countries in this region negatively.  According to Kriel, the large number of Zimbabwean refugees entering the country’s neighbouring states on a daily basis in order to escape from the state violence in Zimbabwe, has serious consequences for the socio-economic situation in, as well as the general stability of these countries.  “Countries in Southern Africa simply do not have sufficient resources to cater for their own poor, and the Zimbabweans who are now fleeing there, are placing a huge additional strain on these already over-taxed resources.  This also causes unacceptable levels of xenophobia,” Kriel said.  According to Kriel, the situation in Zimbabwe already has dire implications for farmers on the South African side of the border with Zimbabwe.


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