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Ablakwa urges mass action against politicians who incite violence

Joy News | Joseph Opoku Gakpo
19 March 2017 | Politics

North Tongu Member of Parliament (MP), Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has expressed worry over the rising incidents of hate activities across the world.

He said xenophobic attacks in the African continent as well as shooting incidents such as the killing of an Indian immigrant in Kansas City in United States poison the affection and cordiality expected to exist among nations.

"The world is grappling with other forms of discrimination and intolerance including, islamophobia, antisemitism, the targeting and murder of Christians in some parts of the world, a migrant and refugee crisis all of which forced Member States of the United Nations to adopt the historic 19 September, 2016 New York Declaration," he said.

Some South Africans wielding weapons during the 2015 xenophobic attacks on other Africans

In a speech on the floor of Ghana's legislature, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP said it is about time the world rallied against politicians whose stock in trade is to incite violence.

"We must all come to the realisation that we need each other and depend on each other to make this world whole and healthy," he said.

"Imagine a world without chocolates from Ghanaian and Ivorian Cocoa, a world without Ghanaian Gold, a world without Ethiopian or Kenyan Coffee, a world without British tea, a world without Coltan from D.R. Congo or Mozambique for our electronic products, a world without Cuban cigar, a world without Japanese, Korean or American Cars, a world without South African or French Wine, a world without Saudi, Russian, Iranian or Nigerian Oil, and so the list continues."

Read full statement below:
A STATEMENT ON THE RISE IN DISCRIMINATION, INTOLERANCE AND HATE CRIMES IN THE CURRENT GLOBAL CONTEXT BY HON. SAMUEL OKUDZETO ABLAKWA, MP FOR NORTH TONGU AND RANKING MEMBER, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Right Honourable Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity to make this statement on a rather troubling issue - the rise in discrimination, intolerance and hate crimes in our world.

A few days ago, you admitted a statement from our Foreign Minister, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway on the latest incident of xenophobic attacks in South Africa. While commending the swiftness with which our Government and our Mission in Pretoria acted to protect the estimated 30,000 Ghanaians living in South Africa, what must be clear to us all is that beyond South Africa, there is a global crisis on discrimination, intolerance and hate crimes which this house cannot afford to be silent on. There is a great deal of instability in our world today motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender and gender identity.

Only this week, the world watched in horror as a white American male after racial slurs shot dead an Indian immigrant in a crowded suburban Kansas City bar that left two other men hospitalized. This case is only an addition to the sharp rise in hate crimes which according to an FBI 2015 Hate Crime Statistics Report - 7,121 victims of hate crimes were recorded in 2015 alone.

Mr. Speaker, on the 26th of February, 2017, thus only a few days ago, the German Interior Ministry released a heart-wrenching report on hate crime against migrants in Germany. The report said there were nearly 10 attacks on migrants every day in that country. The Interior Ministry figures for 2016 are as follows: 3,533 attacks on migrants and asylum hostels, 2,545 attacks on individual migrants, 560 people injured including 43 children, 988 attacks on housing and 217 attacks on refugee organisations and volunteers. On the same day the German authorities put out this report, a Swedish Asylum Shelter in Vanersborg which houses 1,200 asylum seekers was set ablaze injuring 20 people.

It may be recalled that in August last year, the United Nations body - Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released a report in which it expressed deep concern that some British politicians helped fuel racial hatred during the EU Referendum campaign. Indeed, UK Police say they received an unusually staggering number of racial reports in excess of 3,000 during the Brexit campaign according to a publication in The Guardian.

Rt. Hon. Speaker, as I make this statement, the world is grappling with other forms of discrimination and intolerance including, islamophobia, antisemitism, the targeting and murder of Christians in some parts of the world, a migrant and refugee crisis all of which forced Member States of the United Nations to adopt the historic 19 September, 2016 New York Declaration. In doing so, the General Assembly committed to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all refugees and migrants, regardless of their status, and to combat xenophobia, racism and discrimination in our societies. The world body has since launched “UN’s Together Campaign.”

Mr. Speaker, in this month of March, our nation will commemorate two auspicious and timely events. First, we will mark 60 years of independence under the theme Mobilising for Ghana’s Future. Undoubtedly, our history as a people who triumphed over older forms of discrimination and human right abuses from the slave trade to colonialism gives us an important voice as this Parliament rises against the growing intolerance and discrimination in the current global context. Just as our gallant soldiers have established their footprints in peace-keeping operations all over the world, so must this Parliament follow in raising a voice of conscience and courage in condemning all manifestations of intolerance and discrimination.

The other event which we have joined the world to observe for decades is the commemoration of the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 when apartheid police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid laws in Sharpeville, South Africa. Since then, every 21st March has been observed as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Mr. Speaker, it is a tragic irony that this year’s commemoration will be taking place at a time when black South Africans continue to target African immigrants since 2008 in bloody xenophobic attacks. Perhaps, the lesson to us is that discrimination and intolerance contrary to popular believe doesn’t always occur between people who appear different and that ultimately we should all work towards a fair and just world with opportunities for all.

Mr. speaker, it is sad that despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a raft of international human rights instruments this scourge continues to rise in alarming proportions.

It must begin to dawn on us therefore that a lot will have to change.

Our politics must change; we must end divisiveness, fascism, far right extremism and move towards positive consensus building and the world must not be afraid to stand up against fascist politicians when they emerge and no matter where they emerge.

International politics must change; exploitation and narrow sectional interest must give way to fair and equity principles.

International justice must change; international courts should not carry the perception that some leaders are above its mandate and that only leaders and perpetrators of crimes against humanity from particular parts of the world can be brought to justice.

Media stereotyping must change; terrorism and all forms of crime must be reported as crime with a consciousness that avoids whipping up sentiments against particular religions and other groups.

Mr. Speaker, we must all come to the realisation that we need each other and depend on each other to make this world whole and healthy. Imagine a world without chocolates from Ghanaian and Ivorian Cocoa, a world without Ghanaian Gold, a world without Ethiopian or Kenyan Coffee, a world without British tea, a world without Coltan from D.R. Congo or Mozambique for our electronic products, a world without Cuban cigar, a world without Japanese, Korean or American Cars, a world without South African or French Wine, a world without Saudi, Russian, Iranian or Nigerian Oil, and so the list continues. We all need each other and every country to keep the balance of our planet and let those harbouring anti-foreign sentiments remember that their own nationals are also living in the home countries of the people they so despise and therefore ought to take inspiration from those countries like Ghana credited with quintessential hospitality towards visitors even as I will be the first to point out that there are good people in every country and in every community.

Mr. Speaker, in the meantime, I do hope our Government will take steps that assures all Ghanaian migrants that they have not been forgotten or abandoned in this era of worrisome uncertainty and anti-immigration sentiments in most parts of the world. Ghanaian missions abroad ought to be supported to be more supportive and responsive to our brothers and sisters out there.

I thank you for the opportunity to make this statement.

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