Sunday, March 29, 2009

South Africa vs human rights

South Africa's ban of the Dalai Lama is, unfortunately, far from the only incident whereby South Africa has shown excessive deference to powers with dubious human rights records.

As noted by the Economist last November, South Africa has voted against imposing sanctions not only on Mugabe's Zimbabwe but also on Myanmar’s military junta and on Iran (for violating nuclear safeguards). South Africa happens to be leading efforts to suspend the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Sudan’s president for genocide in Darfur. In the UN Human Rights Council, South Africa has voted to stop monitoring human rights in Uzbekistan, despite reports of torture there, and in Iran. South Africa's behaviour has not improved in 2009, either.

With respect to the Dalai Lama, South Africa's minister of foreign affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma insists that "If there is a sporting event, it must remain a sporting event. We have seen how messy it can be if you begin to pull all sorts of issues into the sporting event." Yet JUST FOUR MONTHS AGO, she declared that "the sports boycott was one of the struggles we waged vigorously”!

Anyone who thinks that it is Canada's Charter of Human Rights that ensures tolerance and not Canadian culture should compare South Africa's human rights record against its constitution, which is widely recognized as one of the most "progressive" and liberal in the world.

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