Week 10

Mary Crawford

On August 16th 2012, a horrendous inhumane crime was committed, reminding the world of just how much cruelty there still is in this world. Many are quick to say “well that was a long time ago” when reflecting on the atrocities of the world, and yet only 3 years ago, innocent people were murdered in front of the international community. Despite South Africa being under a watchful eye since the apartheid, it seems as if there is little concern being taken or interventions being done. In the book, Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre, it is made clear that when those men were killed in the mines, their families’ chance of survival was also now dead.  Strikes in North America are seen as annoying and an inconvenience that is solved quickly in order to improve the work or pay of a group of people or union. Take York University as an example, professors and students have joined in unity to support the teaching assistants in their fight for improved support and pay. This was not the case in South Africa when a group a miners went on strike for higher pay. Police forces stepped in a killed 44 people and injuring 78 more, even though reports say that the workers ran and surrendered. This unnecessary use of force seriously invades the respects for one’s human rights which technically should call for an United Nations inquiry, holding the police responsible for their actions.

Unfortunately, media took hold of the story and changed it to meet the needs of the country. The events turned into a success in which the police were able to control a large angry mob that had become “out of hand” making it difficult to uncover the truth and punish those who were out of line. The workers have now armed themselves out of fear creating even more tension between them and the police. It seems as though South Africa claims to be past the apartheid stage, there is continuous infringements on human rights and injustices. This book challenges the reader to see that there is still on going cruelties being done all over the world and that little is being done to stop it. It is difficult now to say “well that was a long time ago” when it is happening right now, in their lifetime. Since the book includes personal accounts from various perspectives, the reader is able to formulate their own view on the issue, but many of the stories are difficult to process and can traumatize the reader as if the author was hoping to get a certain response.

Discussion Questions:

– Is there a way to bring this to the International Criminal Court and punish those responsible for the deaths?

– Could the workers have chosen another way to ask for higher pay or was the strike their last straw?

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