Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jesuit Institute Says South Africa Must End Shameful Xenophobia


Jesuit Institute says South Africa must end shameful xenophobia

Vatican Radio
The Jesuit Institute South Africa has strongly condemned the ongoing violence which started in Soweto against foreign persons and their businesses. The Institute says the violence “constitutes another episode in South Africa’s shameful history of xenophobia. The savagery demonstrated and the failure to put a stop to the current (and earlier) incidents of xenophobic violence is deeply disturbing and displays a failure of the State to put an end to such behaviour both by the enforcement of the law and the education of citizens in respect of the rights of foreign nationals. This is a national disgrace,” says aJesuit Institute South Africa statement made available to Vatican Radio’s English Service for Africa.
The Jesuits in South Africa are also disturbed by the debate of whether or not the attacks constitute xenophobia. They have asserted in their statement that a systematic series of attacks on over eighty foreign-owned shops and foreign-born persons cannot simply be explained away as criminal or political acts of violence. They are Xenophobic acts, insists the statement.
The statement adds that, “Xenophobia in South Africa is in direct contradiction of our nation’s professed belief in humanity or Ubuntu and is a flagrant act of contempt for the culture of human rights central to our Constitution,” the statement says. It continues, “The shelter of protection given by our Constitution extends to all of us because we are human beings, giving recognition to our inherent dignity and equality before God.  This is in accord with Catholic Social Teaching on the dignity of the human person and with the central tenet of Ubuntu – ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’, a person is a person through other people.”
The Jesuit Institute South Africa has reminded South Africans that, “During the apartheid era, the countries of Africa (and many other parts of the world) demonstrated this hospitality admirably to thousands of South African exiles, giving them a place of refuge – often putting themselves at risk of attack by the South African war machine. Our people were treated with warmth and generosity. They were not robbed, murdered, or attacked,” read the statement.
The Jesuits further say that  the violence is symptomatic of the deep structural problems in South Africa and foreign nationals have become “scapegoats.” There are many unresolved issues and a loss of hope in some of South Africa’s townships where people attack foreigners because they are vulnerable.
The Government has been reminded that a, “State fails when it does not adequately protect all those living within its borders, when it does not enforce the law or educate citizenry in the proper way to deal with non-citizens.”
The Jesuit Institute South Africa, with its partner organisation Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has called for among other things the respect of the rule of law; dialogue between Church leaders, community leaders, local businesses and foreigners and for Government to embark upon a systematic civic education on the positive contribution migrants make to South Africa – socially and economically.
This week Southern Africa’s Bishops who are meeting for their first plenary (of the year) in Pretoria condemned the Xenophobic violence. In a statement, the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) called on the “people involved not to allow themselves to be incited to such destruction.”
Source: Jesuit Institute South Africa

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