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Tutu says Africa should be ashamed at Zimbabwe repression
March 19, 2007

Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa says that he and his fellow Africans should "hang our heads in shame" at the brutal suppression of protest going on in Zimbabwe. His statement also amounts to an inictment of his own country's government.

In a response to recent developments in Harare and elsewhere issued by his office in Cape Town on Friday 16 March 16 2007, the Anglican honourary archbishop asked: "How can what is happening... elicit hardly a word of concern, let alone condemnation from us leaders of Africa?"

He continued: "What more has to happen before we who are leaders, religious and political, of our mother Africa are moved to cry out, 'enough is enough'? Do we really care about human rights, do we care that people of flesh and blood, fellow Africans are being treated like rubbish, almost worse than they were ever treated by rabid racists?"

Earlier in the week, Zwelinzima Vavi, secretary-general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), said events in Zimbabwe showed that South Africa's policy of "silent diplomacy" had not worked.

The African Union has also called for change, after pressure from churches, human rights groups, labour activists and others. Archbishop Tutu said he was thankful that Cosatu had spoken out.

"I share [the workers'] consternation at the silence of those we would have expected to speak out on behalf of the voiceless, the powerless ones," he commented.

But Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe remains unmoved by the condemnation, claiming that it is orchestrated from the West - an accusation that one African campaigner described as "insulting and patronising to those who are resisting, those wo are suffering and those who are dying."

President Mugabe said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had instigated violence that led to what it described as "the alleged beatings and arrest of its leaders." In fact, these events have been well documented by reporters and lawyers.

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, suffered a fractured skull and internal bleeding as a result of police beatings when he was arrested during an outlawed prayer meeting held last Sunday 10 March.

On Saturday 17 March four opposition party workers injured by Zimbabwe's police were turned away from the airport as they sought to go to South Africa for specialist medical treatment.

Solidarity with the people in Zimbabwe has been expressed by Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran and Mennonite church leaders, among others.

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