JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT – Black Sash, Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, Sonke Gender Justice Network and PASSOP - Embargoed until 12h00 on Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Civil Society organisations have launched a national unity campaign aimed at collecting a million signed pledges against xenophobia, intolerance, intimidation and violence. Black Sash, Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, Sonke Gender Justice Network and PASSOP, along with other community organisations, kicked off the ‘Unite as One’ campaign in Du Noon, Cape Town – the epicentre of xenophobic violence in 2008. They called on leaders in government, business and civil society as well as individual South Africans to intensify their efforts to build a country in which people, in spite of their language or country of origin, respect each other and live together peacefully.
The ‘Unite as One’ campaign was launched to coincide with Mandela Day and will run until African Human Rights Day on 17 October 2010. Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager Nkosikhulule Nyembezi says they hope to build on the incredible sense of African unity experienced during the World Cup. “We have proved we are a winning nation who can achieve anything if we work together. Now we must work to win human dignity and protection for all those who seek shelter in our land,” insists Nyembezi.
The four organisations have set up a website – www.uniteasone.org.za – and a facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/unite.as.one - so people can sign the pledge online or download copies and circulate amongst their networks. Miranda Madikane of Scalabrini says she hopes that by signing the pledge, “people will feel compelled to mediate or report acts of violence or intimidation against foreign nationals. We urgently need to make the promotion of human rights and compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarised society.”
Braam Hanekom of PASSOP says they are alarmed by the upsurge in acts of intolerance and intimidation reported and witnessed since the World Cup closing ceremony a couple of weeks ago. “We are all working really hard in our communities to reduce tensions and conflict. But we need help monitoring hot spots, reporting incidents and responding to humanitarian needs if we are to stop the pot from boiling over,” says Braam. Regis Mtutu of Sonke Gender Justice agrees that government and civil society are better prepared for potential violence than they were in 2008. “We appreciate that the security forces have already been on high alert. Quite a number of foreign nationals have already fled their homes in fear of attack. It’s crucial that any reintegration efforts this time round are coupled with development programmes that target all members of the affected communities, not just the victims of xenophobia,” insists Mtutu.
The Black Sash’s Nyembezi says they remain concerned that foreign nationals have become useful “scapegoats” for competing business and political interests in communities and that this opportunism has not been countered by strong moral leadership. “There is an urgent need for politicians and other public figures to carefully consider their statements to avoid inciting and inflaming tensions. We challenge government and the private sector to speak out more clearly against intimidation and violence aimed at foreign nationals, and to promote the message of our campaign which says ‘no’ to racism, ignorance and violence, and ‘yes’ to humanity, peace and unity.”
Notes to Editors:
People can you get involved in the ‘Unite as One’ campaign by:
- SIGNING THE PLEDGE! And visiting our website - http://www.uniteasone.org.za - to find out more about the campaign.
- Become a FAN of our FACE BOOK page - http://www.facebook.com/unite.as.one
- Print out the PLEDGE and the PETITION FORM .. and circulate amongst friends, family and colleagues.
- Take part in the Unity marches and other activities that have been organised in support of the campaign.
People can also contact us if they have an idea, need campaign materials or want more information on what they can do.
UNITE AS ONE Campaign, Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town.
Address: 47 Commercial Street, Cape Town, 8001 or PO BOX 3345, Cape Town, 8000
Phone: +27 21 465 64 33 / Fax: +27 21 465 63 17
For interview requests, please contact:
Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager
Cell: 082-429 4719
Director, The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town
Cell: 083 – 380 3572
Cell: 083 256 1140
Sonke Gender Justice Network
Cell: 084 310 8614
For more information, please contact:
Black Sash Media Officer