Monday, May 19, 2008

'Anti-foreigner' violence kills 22 in South Africa

That's the headline CNN used to describe what is going on in South Africa, and when I saw it, I knew immediately that I need to state that:
A) I'm fine.
B) There are much bigger fish to fry than whether or not I am fine.

Actually, right now I am very livid and emotional. I just went to a lecture on what I thought was going to be on the social determinents of AIDS... but when the speaker got up, she told us that she could not just talk about AIDS without talking about the context about what is going on in South Africa right now, and went on to explain exactly what has been happening over the last week around Johannesburg. Essentially, gangs of men have been forming mobs which have been attacking immigrant camps around Johannesburg, setting fire to shacks, gang raping women, killing men - up to 50 people have been killed so far, thousands and thousands have fled their homes looking for safety. The justification for the attacks: the immigrants (most of whom are Zimbabwean refugees escaping the violence in Zimbabwe) are the leading cause of crime in our communities, their children are slowing down our schools, etc. Concerns that are scarily similar to concerns about immigrants all over the world. Read more about it here.

And all of this in post-apartheid South Africa, a land purportedly committed to the equal rights of ALL people within its land. All of this in a place that could not have overcome apartheid if its refugees had not been taken in by neighboring countries and allowed to organize a struggle that eventually covercame an oppressive regime.

Even some of my dear roommates have told me that the attacks are in a way justified because of what the Zimbabweans have done to their country.

This logic is frightening, and perhaps hits close to home.

I am mourning today for those who are living in fear tonight - fear that their children may not be safe, fear that they may not have a place to live tomorrow - in Myanmar, in China, and in Johannesburg.

1 comment:

Victor said...

Thanks for your words. It's like we don't learn from our past and history. It reminds me of our fallen nature and humanity. Though we don't have xenophobic attacks in the US, the sentiment is present here in our country, too. I would love to see a progressive immigration policy in any country in this world, a policy that puts forth a xenophilic tone to be imitated in society.