Friday, December 10, 2010

Shame! Malawian human rights activists fight over T-shirts in Blantyre

It was all shame at Victoria (Old Town) Hall in Blantyre as human rights activists marked cerebrations marking the International Human Rights Day with blows.

Fighting over T-shirts: Is it a human right?
The self-proclaimed activists, drawn from various human rights NGOs and Civil Society Organisations based in Blantyre, started the day by exchanging bitter words over suspicions that those entrusted with the responsibility of distributing T-shirts (written: Rights Defender, and featuring men and women with raised arms) wanted to ‘pilfer’ some T-shirts.

It all started when the man distributing the T-shirts (name withheld) refused to give some 12 people from Nancholi and Zingwangwa Townships the same, ostensibly because the T-shirts were reserved for only “human rights activists well known in Malawi”.

However, the dejected Nancholi and Zingwangwa town-shippers – as well as other well known human rights activists- were surprised to see the T-shirt distributors (themselves respected activists) give out T-shirts to foreign tourists, and neighbours, all of these did not have paper slots given before hand to people who were entitled to t-shirts.

All hell then went loose as one of the activists demanded that everyone present be given T-shirts, adding that human rights days were for all citizens since these rights are universal. Four activists then rushed to the silver salon car carrying the T-shirts, demanding that such materials be distribute equally.
Order please!: Elsewhere, matchers conduct themselves with dignity

When they met resistance, they exchanged blows with other activists, before it turned into a free-for-all fight.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries. All this happened before Police Officers earmarked to guide the match arrived.

Some of the human rights activists were then seen driving home, to the effect that only 40 matchers and hired drum beaters started off for Henry Henderson Institute Hall, the main venue for Human Rights Day activities in Blantyre.

Other Blantyre residents just watched the matchers pass, with some of them saying they wished they could join the human rights activists; adding, however, that they could not do so since all matchers had T-shirts.

“People will see us from afar, as the only people without white T-shirts, and mistake us for uninvited people. I think the idea of putting on T-shirts in bad, as it alienates others wishing to take part in such activities,” said Luis Magombo.

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