Statement by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
CAPE TOWN: While the Central African Republic has experienced more than its fair share of coups, power grabs, authoritarianism and corruption since throwing off the shackles of colonial rule in 1960, the country’s Christian and Muslim citizens have to a great extent lived in a state of impoverished harmony.
But over the past 13 months, the nation’s seemingly incessant struggles for political power and resources have degenerated into anarchy, hatred and ethnic cleansing – the country stands on the brink of genocide; some would say it has already commenced.
The announcement that the United Nations is to deploy a peacekeeping force is a massive relief. The United Nations will help – and the African Union and France already are – to protect the people from themselves. They will assist to restore broken systems, including policing and justice.
But, as Christians celebrate their spiritual resurrection through the resurrection of Jesus Christ this Easter, I particularly want to associate myself with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call to the leaders and people of the Central African Republic to rekindle the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect.
Among God’s greatest gifts to people – all people, including Christians, Muslims, Animists and atheists – are the abilities to determine right from wrong, to reason and to reconcile our differences. When we forgive we liberate ourselves and sow a seed for a new beginning; it has a powerful multiplier effect.
It is the people of the Central African Republic who hold the key to sustainable peace. It is the people who must re-learn to live together.
This statement was released for the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation by Oryx Media.