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Zimbabwe: it’s definitely not cricket

Zimbabwe: it’s definitely not cricket

A decision to play cricket must not prevent protest about human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International said today.

Taking some sort of action to protest the continuing intimidation, arbitrary arrest, torture and attacks on supporters of the political opposition, human rights defenders and the independent media – not to mention the latest moves to “drive out the rubbish” by bulldozing people's homes and trading stalls – are a moral imperative said Amnesty's New Zealand director, Ced Simpson.

“Every day Zimbabweans risk their lives to protest violations; it is not too much to ask New Zealand cricketers to make some sort of visible protest while on tour, such as wearing arm bands, nor concerned New Zealanders at home to protest directly to President Mugabe via email, fax and post.”

Mr Simpson was referring to the example set by two of Zimbabwe’s top athletes who wore black arm bands during their first cricket World Cup match of 2003 to protest human rights abuses in their country.

The human rights situation in Zimbabwe has steadily deteriorated since 1999, when President Mugabe first instituted the forced transfer of land from white to black Zimbabweans. Repressive laws passed in 2002 that violate freedom of expression, association, assembly and information, remain in place today. Elections in 2002 and 2005 failed to fulfil the democratic process, the results of which were disputed by allegations of corruption.

The current “Operation Murambatsvina” – widely translated as “drive out the rubbish” or more euphemistically as “operation restore order” - has meant the eviction of more than 300,000 people by the government and has refocused the world’s attention on Zimbabwe. In an unprecedented move, a coalition of more than 200 African and international NGOs issued a joint appeal to the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) to help the people of Zimbabwe. A UN Special Envoy has already been appointed to investigate the destruction and evictions.

As a matter of policy Amnesty International does not take a position on boycotts, but believes that every possible opportunity should be taken by sportspeople, government representatives and members of the public to express concern at the persistent pattern of repression in Zimbabwe.

Extensive documentation on abuses in Zimbabwe, and opportunities to take action, are available at Amnesty International’s website at http://www.amnesty.org.nz.


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