Death of Democracy: Flower, Olonga wear black bands

Published: Monday, February 10, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare: Zimbabwe World Cup stars Andy Flower and Henry Olonga launched a stunning protest on Monday against the worsening famine and violence, which is tearing their country apart. As their team launched their World Cup campaign against Namibia in Harare, the duo, which has decided to wear black armbands as a sign of their anger throughout the six week tournament, issued an emotional statement criticising the conditions in the country. In the statement, they protest about what they describe as the "death of Democracy".

"We are deeply distressed about what is taking place in Zimbabwe amidst the World Cup and do not feel that we can take the field without indicating our feelings," they said. "We cannot in good conscience ignore the fact that millions of our compatriots are starving, unemployed and oppressed. "We are aware that hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans may even die in the coming months through a combination of starvation, poverty and AIDS. "We are aware that many people have been unjustly imprisoned and tortured simply for expressing their opinions about what is happening in the country," the statement said.

"We have heard a torrent of racist hate speech directed at minority groups. We are aware that thousands of Zimbabweans are routinely denied their right to freedom of expression. "We are also aware that people have been murdered, raped, beaten and had their homes destroyed because of their beliefs and that many of those responsible have not been prosecuted."

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