ten days, 155,000 people worldwide signed an Avaaz petition urging
South Africa's Thabo Mbeki to press for democracy in Zimbabwe--and then
flew a massive banner over the United Nations headquarters. The flight
grabbed the attention of world media, from South African radio,
newspapers, and TV to CNN and the BBC... and the next day, South Africa
shifted its position.
Even as the Zimbabwe crisis worsens, an extraordinary solidarity movementhas taken hold across Southern Africa--sparked by a South African dock workers' union that refused to unload a Chinese shipment of Zimbabwe-bound weapons.
refusal to facilitate Zimbabwe's crackdown has ignited a wildfire that
is spreading across the continent. Now, as pressure builds, China is publicly wavering--and might decide to bring the arms home. Click below to sign a petition to keep arms away from Zimbabwe. The petition will be launched at apress conference in Johannesburg before the end of this week, and used to lobby key leaders until the crisis ends. Join the call now:
weeks on, the results of the March 29 elections have still not been
released, and Zimbabwe's crisis is getting worse. Mugabe's government
has unleashed a brutal campaign to retain power. The opposition says
that ten have died, and hundreds have been injured; now, a "human wave" of refugees is fleeing to South Africa and other neighbouring countries.
But even as the political emergency deepens, an African-led upswell of resistance has begun to turn the tide. In the last ten days:
than 150,000 Avaaz members worldwide signed the petition for democracy
in Zimbabwe, including citizens of 53 of Africa's 54 countries. The
goal: prod South Africa's president Mbeki to pressure Mugabe. To make
sure the message got through, Avaaz hired a small plane to fly a 280 square metre (3000 sq ft) banner over the United Nations.
The next day, amidst pressure from other governments and worldwide
media coverage of the Avaaz stunt, South Africa finally shifted its
position on Zimbabwe.
- Last week, a Chinese ship carrying 77 tonnes of Zimbabwe-bound weapons and ammunition docked in Durban, South Africa--but, refusing to aid Mugabe's crackdown, the dockworkers refused to unload it.Unions,
churches, and legal groups throughout Southern Africa quickly
mobilized; the ship was forced to leave the harbour, and other ports in
the region are vowing to block the weapons as well.
- As the
grassroots outcry has grown, political officials have begun to press
their case. Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa urged other African
leaders not to allow the weapons to reach Zimbabwe. United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and former UNSG Kofi Annan have called
for democracy. And more and more other leaders in Africa and worldwide are joining in.
Chinese arms ship is now sailing up the Western coast of Africa. Union
officials tell Avaaz that it could stop in Namibia to refuel, but is
probably headed towards Angola. Time is short. A strong
international outcry now can help support the groups in both
countries--dockworkers, NGOs, and church leaders--who are working to
block the weapons and support Zimbabwean human rights.
more at stake here than the weapons in this ship. Together, we can
build a consensus that Zimbabwe should not be sold ANY weapons in this
time of crisis--and in the longer term, we can build momentum for a
strong international Arms Trade Treaty. Moreover, stopping the flow
of weapons provides a concrete, immediate step that leaders in the region can take on Zimbabwe--paving the way for stronger actions in coming days and weeks.
Add your name to the petition, and then send this link to friends and family:
situation in Zimbabwe is dire. But because of people power--the courage
of ordinary workers and community members, standing on principle--the
political currents are shifting, and hope is emerging for change. And
in the global media, a new strain can be heard amidst the grinding
stories of brutality and chaos.
This crisis has many layers, and
raises issues that range from the legacy of colonialism to the
uncontrolled international arms trade. At the heart of it is the simple
idea that every human life is equally precious, and that every person has rights. The
people of Zimbabwe took their stand in the voting booth. The
dockworkers of South Africa took their stand at the harbour. Now, even
if we can only offer a click, it is time to do our part as well.
Ben, Ricken, Graziela, Galit, Paul, Iain, Pascal, and Veronique--the Avaaz.org team
- Business Day: "South Africa: Unions Bid to Halt Zimbabwe Arms Ship."http://allafrica.com/stories/200804220109.html
- New York Times: "China Says Shipment of Arms for Zimbabwe May Turn Back."http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/africa/23zimbabwe.html?_r=2&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
- New York Times: "Human Wave Flees Violence in Zimbabwe."http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/21/world/africa/21zimbabwe.html?ex=1366516800&en=0378560da461b30a&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
- SW Radio Africa: "Mbeki put under pressure at the UN over Zimbabwe"http://www.swradioafrica.com/news170408/mbekipressure170408.htm
- Globe and Mail: "South African leader forced to speak up after long keeping quiet on Mugabe."http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080418.ZIMBABWEANALYSIS18/TPStory/TPInternational/Africa
- Associated Press: "Zimbabwe's neighbors unite to block arms shipment"http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i4kT7pJlnuzY_vpKdTACcQYIPcvQD9077G780
- Reuters: "Zambia asks African states to bar Chinese ship" http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnBAN223066.html
- See http://controlarms.org.