Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stop setting motor vehicles alight, burning tyres on roads

COMMENT - I agree that violence is not the way, but that must be accompanied by the profound understanding on behalf of our leaders, that not all acts of violence include the use of force. Poverty is an act of violence. Not ensuring that all children are in school and learning is an act of violence - robbing people not at gunpoint, but of their futures and incomes. When someone is robbed of their life in a hospital without medicines, that is as tragic as when they were shot by the police or robbed at knifepoint. When ministers prance around in shiny suits while people are going hungry, that is an act of violence. So let's stop the violence and start taxing the mines.

Stop setting motor vehicles alight, burning tyres on roads
By The Post
Sat 15 Jan. 2011, 04:00 CAT

Faced with the deplorable reality of violence in Mongu, we wish to express our view clearly. Condemnation is always the proper judgement on violence, on loss of life. If these crimes are committed by the authorities entrusted with the task of safeguarding the common good, then they defile those who practice them, notwithstanding any reasons offered.

We are just as decisive in condemning protest violence, which become cruel and uncontrollable when it is unleashed. Criminal acts can in no way be justified as a way of making political demands or even as a way to “liberation”.

Violence inexorably engenders new forms of repression, which usually prove to be more serious than the ones people are allegedly being freed or “liberated” from.

But most importantly, violence is an attack on life, which depends on the Creator alone.

And we must also stress that when any form of political demands or protests appeal to violence, they thereby admit their own weaknesses and inadequacy.

No crimes can be committed in the name of maintaining peace. The killing of that youth in Mongu by the police cannot be justified in any way.

That youth was unarmed and threatened no one. He could have been apprehended without being shot at.

Some teargas or shots in the air could have done the job for the police. Those who are responsible for this death must be made to answer for it.

A human being cannot be killed like a dog!

And those criminals masquerading as activists for the Barotse Agreement or freedom fighters for the liberation of Barotseland, setting alight motor vehicles, burning tyres on roads and harassing innocent people, should not be tolerated.

These rogues have no place in the struggle for the restoration or honouring of the Barotse Agreement.

Freedom without civility, freedom without the ability to live in peace, was not true freedom at all.

Although we understand the anger of our people in this very important part of our country, we must make it clear that resorting to violence is unhealthy and must be stopped as a matter of urgency.

The right to assemble and demonstrate in support of their just demands for the government of the Republic of Zambia to honour the Barotse Agreement was not a favour to be granted by the government at its discretion.

They cannot talk about peace on the one hand and murder an unarmed youth on the other.

Our responsibility as good citizens is to use all possible means to promote the implementation of non-violent tactics in the effort to re-establish justice in economic and socio-political relations in our country.

We cannot fail to praise those who renounce the use of violence in the vindication of their rights and who resort to methods of defence which are otherwise available to the weaker parties too, provided that this can be done without injury to the rights and duties of others or of the community.

We are obliged to state and reaffirm that violence is neither good nor moral, and that brusque, violent structural changes will be false, ineffective in themselves, and certainly inconsistent with the dignity of our people.

The fact is that we realise that even the best structures and the most idealised systems quickly become inhuman if human inclinations are not improved, if there is no conversion of heart and mind on the part of those who are living in those structures or controlling them.

Violence constitutes one of the gravest problems in our politics today.

A decision on which the future of our country and our people will depend should not be left to the impulses of emotion and passion.

We would be failing in our duty if we were not to remind the conscience, caught in this dramatic dilemma, of the need and necessity for peaceful politics and change.

No one should be surprised if we forcefully reaffirm our faith in the productiveness of peace.

This is our ideal. Violence is neither good nor moral.

Zambians have been known to be peaceful people and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. We are not simply pacifists, for we can fight for our rights, but we prefer peace to violence.

This is because we know that violent changes in structures would be fallacious, ineffective in themselves, and not conforming to human dignity, which demands that the necessary changes take place from within – that is to say, through a fitting awakening of conscience, adequate preparation and effective participation of all, which the ignorance and often inhuman conditions of life make it impossible to assure at this time.

As we believe in the productiveness of peace in order to achieve justice, we also believe that justice is a prerequisite for peace.

We recognise that in many instances, our country finds itself faced with a situation of injustice that can be called institutionalised violence, when, because of the structural deficiency of our economy, of our cultural and political life, whole towns or districts lack necessities, live in such dependency as hinders all initiative and responsibility as well as every possibility for cultural promotion and participation in social and political life, thus violating fundamental rights.

This situation demands all-embracing, courageous, urgent and profoundly renovating transformations.

We should not be surprised, therefore, that the temptation to violence is surfacing in our country.

One should not abuse the patience of a people that for more than 40 years has borne a situation that would not be acceptable to anyone with any degree of awareness of human rights.

Facing a situation which works so seriously against human dignity and against peace, we address ourselves to all our people, asking them to assume their responsibility in the promotion of peace in our country.

We would like to direct our call in the first place to those who have a greater share of power.

We know that there are leaders in our country who are sensitive to the needs of the people and try to remedy them.

We urge them not to take advantage of the peaceful nature of our people in order to oppose, either actively or passively, the profound transformations that are so necessary.

If they jealously retain their power, and defend it through violence, they are responsible to history for provoking violence of despair.

The peaceful future of our country depends to a large extent on their attitude.

Also responsible for injustice are those who remain passive for fear of the sacrifice and personal risk implied by any courageous and effective action.

Justice, and therefore peace, conquer by means of a dynamic action of awakening and organisation of the popular sectors, which are capable of pressing public officials who are often impotent in situations like these.

We address ourselves finally to those who, in the face of injustice and illegitimate resistance to change, put their hopes in violence.

If it is true that violence can be legitimate in the case of evident and prolonged tyranny that seriously works against fundamental human rights, and which damages the common good of the country, whether it proceeds from one person or from clearly unjust structures, it is also certain that violence generally generates new injustices, introduces new imbalances, and causes new disasters; one cannot combat a real evil at the price of a greater evil.

If we consider, then, the totality of our circumstances, and if we take into account our preference for peace, the logic of violence, the atrocities it engenders, the difficulty of building a regime of justice and freedom while participating in a process of violence, we earnestly desire that the dynamism of the awakened and organised community be put to the service of justice and peace.

And to all our people in Barotseland, our people will be able to understand their afflictions and change them, not into hate and violence, but into strong and peaceful energy of constructive works if they approach everything calmly and peacefully.

As for the government, the way they are approaching the tensions around the Barotse Agreement is not right.

They are operating as if they have declared a state of emergency when there is none in place.

They have no right to round up innocent people in the night, detain them knowing very well that they will not be able to bring prosecutable charges against them.

This arbitrariness should have ended with the one party state and the permanent state of emergency that accompanied it.

If they want to be doing what they are doing in Mongu, they should be courageous enough, abide by the law and declare a state of emergency in that area of our country. But they know that this will not be an easy thing to do and manage politically and otherwise.

So, they are resorting to illegal acts and arbitrariness. This is not a way to maintain peace in the country.

This is a recipe for lawlessness on the part of the government and indeed on the part of the people they are trying to control.

But whatever the provocation, the injustice and inhumanity that they are subjected to, we urge our people in Mongu in particular and Western Province in general to avoid violence, to stop setting alight motor vehicles and burning tyres on our roads and harassing innocent people.

Those who seek justice should not resort to barbaric means, to unjust practices.

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