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Evicted South Africans Rally in Support of Immigrants

#Articles & Analysis#Human Rights Defense
June 2008


Cape Town, South Africa

The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) will be highlighting the commonality between its members that have been evicted and/or threatened with evictions, and the plight of the thousands of refugees who have also been “evicted” by violence from their homes and communities.

In particular, the AEC would like to point out the following:

  1. That the attacks did not arise out of nowhere.  Instead, hatred of foreigners has been approved of and often encouraged by the South African government and in particular the police.  Raids on immigrant communities have been commonplace and police have dealt with these vulnerable groups in an inhumane manner – especially the many incidents of torture and deaths at the Lindela Detention Centre.  These acts by government have fostered and legitimised anti-immigrant feeling across the country.
  2. That the government’s abysmal response has done little to stop the violence and has infringed on the rights of undocumented Africans.  In particular, the police have encouraged and even sometimes taken part in the looting.  Moreover, the “temporary” refugee camps are in disgusting conditions which has earned sharp reprimands from both the refugees and the United Nations.
  3. That the anger of the poor is substantial and legitimate.  But rather than being directed at other helpless Africans, it should be directed at the perpetrators of their poverty – the oppressive government and the wealthy elite.
  4. That the only long-term solution to afrophobia (xenophobia) and other forms of violence is to end the oppression of all poor people living in South Africa.  If the poor had houses, if the poor had jobs, if the poor had decent health-care, reasonably priced food staples, and meaningful redistribution of land, they would not be blaming and fighting their neighbors for the little scraps they do have.  It has been well documented that most of the actual violence in Cape Town had very little to do with hatred for foreign Africans and everything to do with it being an excuse to snatch a bag of mealies.  When people are hungry, they’ll do almost anything to feed their family.

And so, we invite everyone to come join in on tomorrow’s march to parliament.  We, as the poor of South Africa, will march along with thousands of Somalians, Nigerians, and Zimbabweans because we believe that the perpetrators of Afrophobia are the same people who are evicting us from our houses.

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