‘Blood will’: Xenophobia in S. Africa routine and fatal | South Africa News


Sleep was not an option for Syed in early September last year.

For three days and nights, The owner of a Bangladeshi shop in central Johannesburg said he had to stand up to protect his store during an outbreak of xenophobic violence, in which rioters saw stones thrown at him and other items Businessmen of the region.

Syed said that the shopkeepers had called Police but they Shown In college On the third day. He said that by then more than 1,000 Bangladeshi shops had been looted.

His account is one of dozens included in a report released on Thursday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) documenting mob attacks on migrant communities in South Africa, angering the serious economic and living conditions of those Which they are experiencing.

According to the findings of the HRW report, xenophobic harassment and violence against other Africans and Asians living in the country is routine and sometimes fatal.

FThe report states that the originators are blamed for financial insecurity, crime and failing to deliver government services. Non-South Africans are also getting Accused of stealing jobs and women, curtailing basic services of the country, spreading diseases and running crime syndicates.

“Xenophobic actions betray South African constitutional promises,” said HRW researcher and report author Christie Ueda.

“The constitution promises human dignity and non-racism. Non-nationals arrive in South Africa with the promise that they will live freely and equitably. But the idea has been betrayed,” he said . Referring to the “widespread trend of apathy” towards victims of xenophobic events.

“It sometimes takes the form of flat-out denial and sometimes as a silent acceptance.”

‘fire and blood’

A week of violence from 2 to 9 September killed at least 12 people and displaced thousands when foreign-owned businesses in various parts of Johannesburg were looted. Foreigners were called to leave with protests.

HRW said interviewers forwarded it to WhatsApp and voice messages they had received in the days before the violence that it would be “murderous” and “if there was fire and blood” Foreigners did not leave.

This was far from the first such incident in recent years. In 2017, violent anti-immigrant protests erupted in the capital Pretoria, while in 2015, another wave of xenophobic attacks in various parts of the country killed many and displaced thousands.

Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Angela Mudukuti said, “Xenophobia affects all black foreigners in South Africa. It allows every layer of society to form a uniquely hostile society, which does nothing between the rest of the continent and South Africa. is.”

On March 1, 2020, in central Cape Town, to disperse a group of migrants seeking to move a historic church and a class to another country feeling unsafe due to xenophobic attacks, law enforcement officials As a woman stepped up. [File: Mike Hutchings/Reuters]

Counterfeit and Documentation Raid

For its report, HRW interviewed 51 people, including victims, lawyers and activists, in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces between March 2019 and March 2020, xenophobic violence in areas since apartheid ended in 1994 to 2018 Were most affected by. According to Xenowatch Monitoring group.

Non-South Africans interviewed by HRW also stated that government and law enforcement officials have used fake goods and documentation raids as cover for xenophobic harassment and attacks. They believe their shops have been inconsistently targeted by the raiding authorities, according to this report, police have used tear gas and rubber bullets.

The police will close shops in fear of selling fake goods with the goal of destroying or removing such goods from the market. But the government says such operations protect the local economy and jobs, with shopkeepers and vendors in central Johannesburg telling HRW that police sold back the confiscated goods after their shops were ransacked.

Al Jazeera contacted the Home Department for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication. On 14 January, Aaron Motusaldi, The then Health Minister and current Minister of Home Affairs said, “We are not xenophobic as a department and a country.”

Plan to deal with xenophobia

In March 2019, the government launched the National Action Plan for Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (NAP).

The goal of the Five Year Plan is to improve the security of foreigners and their access to justice, as well as lifting. Public awareness and understanding of xenophobia.

The NAP recommends foreigners to create mechanisms to ensure that they receive the services they are entitled to, to facilitate their integration and to adopt a humane and dignified approach to manage migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. .

Nevertheless, xenophobic violence has continued in the first year of the plan’s existence.

“The problem is over-described, with very broad and vague recommendations for anti-NAP bias initiatives. This is not a series of programs with a budget,” he said. Steven Gordon, a senior researcher at the Anthropological Research Council (HSRC), decrying “Lack of measurable devices that can be implemented”.

Commenting on HRW’s findings, Gordon stated that what are their similarities in the documents included in a report released by HRW? nineteen ninety eight. “Many issues are the same,” he said. “For example, institutional resistance from officeholders, along with reducing the problem of government and the problems faced by vulnerable migrants such as refugees and asylum seekers.”

Sharon Ikambaram, head of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Program for Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), which runs Walk-in law clinics for refugees and migrants in many cities, Described South Africa’s asylum system as “failed”.

Ekambaram said last year the refugee reception office in Musina, a town in Limpopo province, had a 100 percent rejection rate for asylum seekers and those receiving refugee status. “The quality of decision-making by the authorities is informed by xenophobia,” argued Ekambaram.

According to Ekambaram, xenophobic feelings are spreading rapidly through social media. Some statements by politicians have also exacerbated the problem, he said, referring to a statement by Motosledi in November 2018 that the South African health system is “exaggerated” by foreign nationals.

He said, “The government in our country is deprived of xenophobia. It has to recognize that hatred of foreigners is spreading in communities. Looters and attackers will have to bear the consequences.”

Meanwhile, Yuda recommended immediate measures to improve the situation for foreigners. “One obstacle to basic services is obtaining the right documents. The government should extend the validity of permission to seek asylum to reduce the challenges facing foreigners with renewal of documents.”

Other HRW recommendations include formal monitoring of the implementation of NAP and the establishment of accountability mechanisms, as well as the government acknowledging the existence of xenophobia in public statements.

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