Monday, April 28

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson, IOC president Jacques Rogge: sit down and shut up

(April 17) Mandelson warns boycotters to leave China alone
The European Union's commissioner for trade, Peter Mandelson ... said "there is no point in issuing gratuitous snubs and making gimmicky stands by boycotting the opening [Olympics] ceremony. It is much better to use the relationship that we have with Chinese state leaders to engage them in a proper dialogue about Tibet and human rights, while sustaining the economic and trade relationship that is so important to both of us." ...

(April 25) Olympics chief tells west not to hector China
The west must stop hectoring China over human rights, the Olympics chief has warned ... “You don’t obtain anything in China with a loud voice,” said Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee. This was the “big mistake of people in the west”. ...

(April 27)
Arms ship exposes Robert Mugabe’s link to Chinese firm
The boycott of a Chinese ship laden with weapons for Zimbabwe has cast new light on the connections between the African country’s president, Robert Mugabe, and a secretive Chinese arms-trading firm with a controversial track record from the Congo to Darfur. [...] The 15,000-tonne An Yue Jiang is registered in the southern city of Guangzhou and has been operated for about 20 years by Cosco, a state-owned cargo line.

(April 27)
Babies seized by Mugabe forces hounding voters
Scores of children and babies have been locked up in filthy prison cells in Harare as Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, sinks to new depths in his campaign to force the opposition into exile before an expected run-off in presidential elections.

Twenty-four babies and 40 children under the age of six were among the 250 people rounded up in a raid on Friday, according to Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Yesterday they were crammed into cells in Southerton police station in central Harare.

“This is ruthlessness of the worst kind. How can you incarcerate children whose mothers have fled their homes hoping to give their children refuge?” asked an emotional Chamisa yesterday. “In Mugabe’s Zimbabwe even children are not spared the terror that befalls their parents.”

The families were rounded up from MDC headquarters, where they had sought refuge from violence in the countryside.

Thought to be directed by top military officers, Operation Where Did You Put Your Cross? has prompted thousands to flee. They are trying to escape the so-called war veterans, who are attacking people and burning down hundreds of houses for voting “incorrectly” in last month’s elections.

“What we’re seeing is an undeclared civil war,” said Chamisa. “It’s genocide. This situation is out of control, it’s now beyond the capacity of the MDC alone. It requires the region, the continent, the international community to act.”
I refuse to believe that this century will be defined by men such as Mandelson and Rogge and the murderers they embolden in the name of -- what? "Confidence building?" So I will not end this post on a despairing and angry note; instead I will republish a rousing tribute to Africans who showed their government how a decent person acts:
An African beacon of morality
by Gordon Barthos
The Star, Canada, Apr 26, 2008

So the Chinese rustbucket An Yue Jiang limps home today. And Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe can wave adieu to the 77 tons of weapons he ordered to prop up his shaky regime.

China recalled the "Ship of Shame" and its cargo of 3 million AK-47 rounds, 3,000 mortars and 1,500 rocket grenades, when it became a hideous embarrassment.

The United Nations can claim no great credit for this about-face, for all its fretting about Zimbabwe and its lofty talk of curbing the global traffic in small arms.

Nor can George Bush, Gordon Brown or Stephen Harper, who have wrung their hands as Mugabe connives to steal the March 29 election from Morgan Tsvangirai, but who haven't done much more.

Nor can Mugabe's buddies including South Africa's wilfully blind President Thabo Mbeki, who sees "no crisis." Not even as Mugabe's police ransacked Tsvangirai's headquarters yesterday, carting off computers, documents and staff.

What cancelled Mugabe's lethal Chinese take-out order was the raw outrage of ordinary African working people who saw their leaders letting down 12 million Zimbabweans. And who had the guts to stand up to them.

When the Chinese ship arrived in Durban last week, cargo handlers for the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union just said No to what they saw as a crime against humanity in the making. They turned their backs on the ship.

"We shall not become an accomplice to the repression and brutality" toward Zimbabweans "who only yearn for peace and genuine democracy" after 28 years under Mugabe's autocratic rule, union leader Randall Howard declared.

With those blunt words Howard hoisted a union-made Olympic torch of morality that put to shame South African officials who had cleared the ship to offload its cargo.

South Africa's top justices stood with the union, as did the Anglican church and the police, and barred the transfer. Africans cheered.

That emboldened Mozambique and Zambia, too, to shun the ship.

And Zimbabwe's democrats knew they were not forgotten, and alone.

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