Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Zimbabwe: no food for a day

Dear friends,
Southern African citizens have launched a hunger strike to press for justice and democracy in Zimbabwe. Click below to see the video appeal for global solidarity and pledge to fast this Sunday -- they will present the world's call to leaders at an Africa-wide summit:


Israel and Hamas have agreed to a brief cessation of violence and international negotiations have begun -- more than half a million Avaaz members signed petitions, made phone calls, and donated funds to press for a comprehensive ceasefire and a just peace. Obama has sent the more even-handed George Mitchell to talks, and a member-funded Avaaz campaign is underway to help lift pro-peace voices in US media. Suffering continues in the region, but hope is rising.

When Africa's heads of state meet this Sunday, they will be greeted by a crowd of hunger strikers, calling for justice and democracy in Zimbabwe.

Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela's wife Graça Machel, and hundreds of others have joined the campaign and pledged solidarity with the Zimbabwean people—most of whom are now struggling to survive on a meal a day or less. Their powerful demonstration of commitment has seized the media's attention, pressuring leaders to refuse Mugabe in his attempts to cling to power.

The world's support is needed now. Kumi Naidoo, a South African activist in his eighth day of a 21-day hunger strike, has recorded a video appeal for Avaaz members worldwide to join the protest by pledging to fast this Sunday, when he will speak to the African Union summit about Zimbabwe's crisis. If thousands of us fast, our actions will give power to his words. Click here to see the video and join the fast:

Zimbabwe's crisis—cholera, hyperinflation, hunger, and Mugabe's brutality—keeps worsening. But as the stakes rise, the movement for change is growing stronger and bolder. The European Union just tightened sanctions targeting Mugabe's regime. Hunger strikers in Southern Africa, trying to deliver a petition to leaders Monday, were blasted by riot police shooting rubber bullets. And after all-night talks earlier this week the opposition stated that it would join a "unity" government only if there was real power sharing, political prisoners were out of jail, and Zimbabweans' urgent needs met.

The next five days are critical: as Africa's leaders choose their next moves, we must demonstrate that the world stands strong with Zimbabwe's fairly-elected Movement for Democratic Change, and that Mugabe's reign must end. When the African Union leaders sit down this Sunday in Ethiopia, their decisions will be shaped by the political conditions that we help create.

Time and again, we have rallied. More than 400,000 of us have signed petitions, sending virtual "red cards" to Mugabe that were waved by labor activists in a march this fall. We flew an airplane over the United Nations headquarters to urge Mbeki to support democracy in Zimbabwe. And this Christmas, we sent radio ads to tell the people of Zimbabwe they were not forgotten.

Now, through a concrete act of self-sacrifice, we can take our efforts a level higher. Our solidarity fast will strengthen the moral force of Zimbabwean and South African activists who are demanding change. Click here to join the fast:

One day, democracy will be restored to Zimbabwe--the refugees will return home, the fields will burst with food, the hospitals and clinics will be full of medicine and healing. And all of us will know that in answering the call of a suffering but defiant people, we played a part in their victory.

With hope,

Ben, Alice, Ricken, Iain, Graziela, Luis, Paula, Paul, Milena, Brett, Pascal, Veronique, and the entire team


The Save Zimbabwe Now campaign is coordinating the hunger strike:

"Save Zimbabwe activists begin hunger strike" - The Times, 1/25/09

"A Growing Chorus In S. Africa Urges Action on Mugabe" - Washington Post, 1/25/09
"Police fire rubber bullets to break protest at SADC meeting" - ZimOnline, 1/26/09

"Special Report: Crisis in Zimbabwe" - The Times, last update 27 Jan 2009

MDC denies Zimbabwe deal claims - BBC - Jan 27, 2009


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