MORE than 300 African human rights groups and almost 1,800 activists have sent an open letter to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, calling for ‘immediate remedial action’ over the ‘xenophobic, racist and inhuman treatment of Africans in China.’
They are calling on African leaders ‘to demand a full and independent investigation into the violations…’
The signatories represent a broad section of African civil society organisations and individuals on the continent as well as those living in Europe and the US.
They include groups representing women, workers, students, lawyers, academics, business people, clergy, artists and journalists.
The letter said: ‘…we want to register our most profound concern and strongly condemn the recent acts of discrimination, xenophobia and racism against the Africans in China.
‘We welcome the statements of the African Group of Ambassadors in Beijing and reactions
from different African governments and your good offices in this regard.
‘There is a need to transform these statements into practical action that puts an end to the horrendous dehumanisation of Africans in China.’
The letter added that the authorities in China ‘are allegedly forcefully testing, quarantining and inhumanely treating African people in Guangdong Province in particular.
‘This discrimination and stigmatisation of Africans include being made to undergo epidemic investigation and Nucleic Acid Test forcefully.
‘The Africans have also been subjected to 14 days quarantine even if they have not travelled outside their jurisdictions or come into contact with infected persons, or had close contact or showing any symptoms of Covid-19,’ the petitioners added.
‘This treatment is in violation of international human rights laws and principles.
‘It is inhuman and against all principles of dignity and shared humanity that should ideally guide China-Africa relations.
‘Singling out…Africans is xenophobic and racist…’
The petitioners added: ‘Africa’s strong economic ties with China, should not thrive at
the cost of human rights and human dignity.
‘These are the core principles of [the AU’s] Constitutive Act, 2000.’
The letter touched on the troubling behaviour of Chinese immigrants in Africa, who number over one million at the latest count.
It noted ‘recurrent complaints regarding illicit activities by Chinese businesses in Africa’ and said that further cooperation between African countries and China must ‘establish clear standards of mutual accountability.’
The letter added: ‘Such standards of accountability must be formulated with the active participation of African citizens.
‘We believe that without strong mutual accountability frameworks, the message of solidarity preached by China towards Africans will ring hollow.
‘The participation of African people in defining the framework of partnership will ensure that going forward China-Africa partnership has a human face and is reflected in Chinese business conduct in Africa and our mutual solidarity is also a reality reflected on the streets of Chinese cities and provinces.’
The letter said that the principles of human and peoples’ rights must be at the centre of the partnership.
‘This framework will address the imbalance in trade; ballooning debt; restrain dumping of inferior quality goods by strengthening standards monitoring and control illicit financial outflows and corrupt practices by Chinese businesses operating in Africa.’