TANZANIA AND REPRESSION IN BLACK AFRICA

An official statement on the O.A.U. (Organization of African Unity) meeting in Kampala.

To balance the President’s Oxford address another document of Tanzanian foreign policy seems appropriate to cite, even though it is now some months old. The statement was issued on July 25th 1975.

‘The African independence struggle was waged by the people of Africa, not just by a few leaders. The people were, and still are, fighting for human dignity, for equality, and a right to live in freedom. The purpose of the struggle for African Unity is exactly the same. Unity is desired to complete the liberation of Africa, to strengthen the freedom of Africa, and to further the development of the African people. The Organization of African Unity was set up in 1963 to promote this objective. It is an organization of states, but its purpose is the service of the people of Africa – all the people. It is not surprising that the whole of Africa cries out against the atrocities of the colonial and racist states. Individually as Africans, and through the O.A.U we condemn the murderous acts of these regimes on every possible occasion and in every possible form … The strong and public outcry from Africa on all these matters is justified, correct and necessary.

But when massacres, oppression and torture are used against Africans in the independent states of Africa there is no protest from anywhere in Africa. There is silence, even when such crimes are perpetrated by or with the connivance of African governments and the leaders of African states … Just occasionally an individual African leader will make some muted criticism of events in other independent African countries. Sometimes a few other states will temporarily withdraw their friendship and support for an administration after a particularly blatant act of murder or oppression. But the O.A.U. never makes any protest or criticism at all. It is always silent. It is made to appear that Africans lose their right to protest against state organised brutality on the day that their country become independent through their efforts. For on all such matters the O.A.U. acts like a Trade Union of the current heads of state and government, with a solidarity reflected in silence if not in open support for each other.

It is not only in the independent states of Africa that people are oppressed, tortured, or massacred by their governments. The shameful record of state crimes against human beings includes those of nations in every continent and of every ideology. But Africa is in danger of becoming unique in its refusal to protest against the crimes committed against Africans, provided such actions are done by African leaders and African Governments.

When people of proved commitment to human justice try to raise with African leaders clearly authenticated and deliberate outrages against humanity, we sit in embarrassed silence if the case involves African states acting against African people. When such information is submitted to international meetings by agencies or affiliates of the United Nations , we endeavour to exclude the item from the Agenda. When independent agencies publish their findings about mass murder or blatant unhumanity we rush to condemn if the accused government is, in our eyes, imperialist; we ignore the report if it produces twice as much evidence against an independent African government. Sometimes we even attack as imperialists those who hold up to public scrutiny the immoral actions of Africans in a position of authority in Africa.

Yet we know that many of the allegations which have been made about inhumane oppression within independent Africa are true. The evidence is too strong: the cases have been too numerous. This refusal to protest against African state crimes against African people is bad enough. But until now Africa has at least refrained from giving public support to the worst perpetrators of such crimes. Now by meeting in Kampala the Heads of State of the O.A.U. are giving respectability to one of the most murderous administrations in Africa. For this meeting will be assumed to have thrown the mantle of O.A.U approval over what has been done, and what is still being done, by General Amin and his henchmen against the people of Uganda.

No one in Africa can be ignorant of what has been happening. The International Commission of Jurists has published a 63 page report of offences against human rights in Uganda since Amin seized power, with horrifying details of some of the actions which have been committed. The killings have not been done in the heat of a revolution or a coup d’etat. They have happened month after month, year after year …. To give the imprimatur of implicit O.A.U support to a government like that of General Amin is to betray twice over the principles of human justice, human equality and human dignity. Tanzania cannot accept the responsibility of participating in the mockery of condemning colonialism, apartheid and fascism in the headquarters of a murderer, a black fascist and a self confessed admirer of fascism.’

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