(I) Australian cricket team pulls out of the Zimbabwe tour
It would not have been much of a contest anyway. If the series had been undertaken, very few – even in the cricketing world – would have spared much time on following the series. But now that the series has been called off – or should we say boycotted by Cricket Australia, on strong suggestion from the Australian government, the issue of mixing sports with politics has risen again.
Let’s try and understand the background of the happening.
A group called The Zimbabwe Movement (for Freedom, Democracy, Peace & Prosperity) represents a voice of organisations and nations across the globe about the state of affairs in Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party are said to have destroyed all forms of democracy, freedom of speech and human rights in Zimbabwe and are responsible for countless crimes against citizens, including:
- Murder of over 20 000 people in Matabeleland in the so called Gukurahundi massacres in the early 1980s
- Intimidation, torture, rape and murder of those who dare to disagree with the regime
- Silencing free speech through legislative and physical means
- Promotion of racism by publicly demonising ethnic minorities
- Starvation of opposition party supporters by denying them access to international food aid – seeking to use food as a political tool
- Harassment and intimidation of the judiciary, refusal to accept unfavourable judgments and ignoring the country’s constitution
- Wholesale rigging of state elections. manipulating, beating and killing in order to remain in power.. Hundreds of thousands denied the right to vote for a candidate of their choice.
- Blatant theft of state funds through massive government corruption and cronyism
- Abuse of state institutions such as the Police, Army and Central Intelligence Organisation
The thing that hackles the ‘western powers’ the most is an act that can only be called ‘reverse racism’ – persecution of ‘whites’ (including cricketers like Andy Flower) and their rights by the entirely ‘black’ Mugabe government.
Would the world have reacted if ‘whites’ were not hurt? Take your call.
(II) Hollywood gets into Darfur, well, in spirit anyway:
Darfur crisis is a violent conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan between the Sudanese Military and the Janjaweed militia, recruited mostly from tribes on one side and a variety of rebel groups, notably the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, recruited primarily from the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups.
The Sudanese government, while publicly denying that it supports the Janjaweed, is said to have provided money and assistance to the militia and has participated in joint attacks targeting the land-tilling tribes from which the Darfuri rebels draw support.
The conflict began in February 2003. Unlike in the Second Sudanese Civil War, which was fought between the primarily Muslim north and Christian south, almost all of the combatants and victims in Darfur are Muslim.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that the conflict has left as many as 450,000 dead from violence and disease, while Sudan’s government claims that over 9,000 people have been killed. As ever, the true figure would be somewhere in between, though arguably, more towards the UN figures.
Adding to that is the mind-boggling statistics of 2.5 million getting displaced as of October 2006!
Pertinently though, while the mass media routinely describes the conflict as both “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide,” and the United States government has described it as genocide,the UN has declined to do so. While judiciousness of US governments is always suspect, the lethargy of UN often proves worse than the various mis-adventures of US.
The conflict taking place in Darfur has many interwoven causes. While rooted in structural inequality between the center of the country around the Nile and the ‘peripheral’ areas such as Darfur, tensions were exacerbated in the last two decades of the twentieth century by a combination of environmental calamity, political opportunism and regional politics.
A point of particular confusion has been the characterization of the conflict as one between ‘Arab’ and ‘African’ populations, a dichotomy that one historian describes as “both true and false”.
Interestingly, a fighting between ancient neighbours has caught the fancy of Hollywood. And Darfur peace organisations – real and fakes alike – can look forward to some green paper.