Friday, June 27, 2008

Substance Not Symbolism

In the horror and destruction that has engulfed Zimbabwe and its people over the last few years the condemnation of that country’s leadership has been loud and clear, at least amongst the Western democracies. Political and economic sanctions have been imposed, perhaps justifiably, as its citizens are subjected to a continued onslaught of brutality.

As the reports cascade out of Zimbabwe reporting murder, rape, torture and a general imposition of destruction of a once healthy, economically structured nation. Opposition from outside has swung from the (failed) gentle nudging of South Africa to the more (failed ) confrontational approach of the EU and USA. Today’s election is clearly nothing but another oxymoronic addition to those gerrymandered and corrupt elections witnessed the world over.

So with the reek of fear, death and a bleak future, at least in the short term, how does the British Government respond, what meaningful sign of Britain’s determination to stand up for the people of Zimbabwe is declared? The Queen announced that HE President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe will be stripped of his honorary knighthood. Is that all the British Government has got?

What seems even more shameful is that this motion was discussed and debated in the House of Commons. Surely, a person of the most simplistic humanity could declare that there are far more effective sanctions that can be imposed by the 5th largest economy in the world. It is meaningless and an embarrassing statement of Britain’s opaque foresight in world affairs.

Modern Britain is burdened, somewhat unjustly, with alleged sins of empire. Any former British colony, especially one that has fought a divisive civil war against a racist and minority government, is bound to be sensitive to British involvement in internal affairs. But the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe has gone beyond colonial sensitivity. Britain, the European Union and the wider world should be more aggressive in their condemnation of human rights abuses. An Iraqi life, an Afghani life, a Jewish life, an African life, a European life and an American life is not worth more than a human life. Real intervention is required, peacefully by all means possible, decisively when required and with humanitarian ideas at all times. The people of Zimbabwe deserve more than an empty symbolic gesture of an outdated relic by its colonial rulers. Blood is still more expensive than oil.

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