TAC Update

I just wanted to post this statement from TAC Equal Treatment magazine.. The situation of many African countries is tenuous, unstable and volatile.. When people are living beneath the poverty line, under desperate conditions, they will resort to desperate means. This is clearly illustrated by the knock on effect of President Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe,which has resulted in the exodus of hundreds of thousands of it’s former citizens. South Africa is a wealthy nation, just over the border, so it is an obvious destination for immigrants and refugees seeking a better way of life. With the majority of black South Africans living in conditions of abject poverty, this influx creates and aggravates resentment and Xenophobia. We are witnessing yet another brutal human tragedy, with innocent people as it’s direct victims. The rights to life and dignity are the basis of the South African Constitution. The Constitution guarantees the right of everyone to access health care. In South Africa, people who have migrated here from other countries are being denied their human rights. They live in permanent insecurity and endure violence and illegal detention. They do not have adequate access to health care or social support. In our communities they experience xenophobia and discrimination. The political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe continues to worsen. While people in Zimbabwe starve and are subject to abuse and intimidation, President Mbeki has chosen to remain silent. He has failed to speak out against the tyranny of Robert Mugabe. As Equal Treatment goes to press, the outcome of the unfree and unfair Zimbabwean elections still remain unclear. Every day people flee Zimbabwe for neighbouring countries like South Africa. At least a million Zimbabweans are trying to survive here. Our government is failing to protect the rights of immigrants, whether they be from Zimbabwe, Congo, Somalia, Mozambique or other African countries. We have created this special issue on immigrants, mainly from Zimbabwe, because we cannot remain silent while atrocities continue in Zimbabwe and while foreign nationals in South Africa are denied their basic human rights. Regis Mtutu TAC International Co-ordinator and Zimbabwean Citizen TAC demands urgent and decisive action by Government to halt violence against refugees and immigrants Political and civil society leadership must act to end xenophobic violence and hate-crimes Deploy South African National Defence Force to curb the violence Equal Treatment Issue 25 has been published: Report on the systematic abuse of immigrants http://www.tac.org.za/community/files/file/et25.pdf 19 May 2008 The Treatment Action Campaign condemns the wave of xenophobic violence sweeping through communities in Gauteng. We call on Government to take action to halt the violence; to put in place a national strategy to protect the safety, health and well being of the victims of xenophobic attacks; and to take steps to prevent the violence from spreading further. With the violence now having spread to almost a dozen communities in and around Johannesburg and threats of violence issued elsewhere across the country, including Cape Town, we demand more effective action from Government to deal with this crisis. Specifically we ask Government to: Call together all political parties, President Mbeki and all political party leaders to visit the sites of violence and to condemn it in the strongest terms. Draft contingency plans, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, to manage the violence and its after-effects should it spread to other areas of the country. While we sincerely hope that the violence will be contained and halted in Gauteng, we urge every municipality to put in place coherent strategies for dealing with the posibility of outbreaks of xenophobic violence. Designate and make available places of sanctuary for victims of xenophobic attacks. The current system whereby victims take shelter at police stations is unsustainable; Government must identify sites where large numbers of people can be comfortably accommodated and easily protected. Distribute emergency social assistance packages to all displaced persons. Initiate a sustained media campaign condemning the violence. We ask for our political leaders to be more visible and to go on radio and television condemning the attacks. Ensure, with the leadership of the Minister of Health and all Provincial MECs for Health, that the antiretroviral treatment (or other chronic medications) of immigrants, refugees and undocumented people is not interrupted and that clinics and hospitals adhere to the memorandum of the Department of Health to provide HIV treatment to foreign nationals irrespective of their legal status. TAC reluctantly calls for the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist the police services in curbing the violence. Although this brings back terrible memories of the Apartheid era, the police services do no have the capacity to stop the violence without the support of the SANDF. The violence of the last few days demonstrates clearly that inequality and the poverty and marginalisation of millions of people in the country, who are jobless and live in squalid conditions, must be addressed with greater imagination and vigour in the development and implementation of our economic policies. The implementation of a Basic Income Grant would be a good start. Ending violence and restoring dignity to refugees, immigrants and undocumented migrants is not only the task of government. All civil society organizations, charities, humanitarian bodies and NGOs must establish a unified and coordinated response to this national humanitarian emergency. TAC is working with the AIDS Law project, Lawyers for Human Rights, Legal Resources Centre and other organisations to address the crisis. Equal Treatment Issue 25 (June 2008) has been published. This edition of ET focuses specifically on the needs of refugees in Souh Africa, you can download an electronic copy at: http://www.tac.org.za/community/files/file/et25.pdf Xenophobia is rife in South Africa. However, repression of immigrants, refugees and undocumented people goes beyond naked violence in poor communities. Earlier this year, police raided the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, beating up and arresting immigrants, mainly from Zimbabwe. The state systematically abuses the rights of immigrants: health workers deny treatment, home affairs officials demand bribes and police assault immigrants regularly. Then there are institutions like Lindela, where people are incarcerated in ghastly conditions before being deported despite not having committed any crime. This all goes on while the South African government refuses to recognise that people fleeing from Zimbabwe are refugees. This issue of Equal Treatment contains a special report on the systematic abuse of the rights of immigrants. We hope that it galvanises South Africans to stand up against xenophobia, both by the state and in our communities. Issued by TAC National Council: Nonkosi Khumalo Teboho Klaas Vuyiseka Dubula Zackie Achmat Mark Heywood Nathan Geffen Fredalene Booysen Ntombozuko Kraai Portia Ngcaba Anele Yawa Gordon Mthembu Bheki Khoza Bongi Skhosana Phillip Mokoena Gugu Mpungose Eddy Tinyiko Marilele Solanga Solly Milambo Sidumo Dlamini Bukelwa Voko Lihle Dlamini Emma Baleka Mashudu Mfomande Thuli Manikela