Zuma's silence on violations in Allepo deafening - Stevens Mokgalapa

DA says it is unfathomable that a govt committed to human rights would keep quiet when people are dying in their thousands

Zuma's silence on human rights violations in Allepo is deafening

15 December 2016

The DA is deeply concerned by the deafening silence by Jacob Zuma's government on the ongoing human rights violations in Allepo, Syria, which have escalated in the last week.

It is unfathomable that a government, supposedly committed to a human-rights based foreign policy, would think silence is an appropriate diplomatic tool when children, women and men are dying in their thousands.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, 90,000 civilian deaths have been recorded, 16,000 of which have been children and 1,5 million people have been displaced. With the siege of Allepo near its end, the lives of thousands more residing in rebel controlled territory are now at risk.

If Jacob Zuma's silence on the matter has anything to do with his cosy relationship with Russian President, Vladmir Putin, he should be completely ashamed. Our approach should remain consistent with Nelson Mandela's crafted rights based foreign policy, and not an "anti-West" bloc hysteria.

It is worth also noting with concern that President Zuma has yet to speak out against Yahya Jammeh's attack on democracy in The Gambia, where elections results have been ignored, and military troops have blocked access to the electoral commission. The value of democracy to our country, given our painful past, should warrant an immediate condemnation of such undemocratic, dictatorial behaviour.

The reality is that under Jacob Zuma, our proud standing in the world, which Madiba worked hard to build, has been consistently undone - because just like at home, Jacob Zuma puts his friends first, and the interests of people last.

South Africa and the world deserve much better.

Issued by Stevens Mokgalapa, DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, 15 December 2016