Forum for National Development comes to defence of Malawians of Asian origin over racial profiling and hate messages

Forum for National Development (FND) has issued a statement calling on government to intervene and rein in a breeding culture of hatred targeted at Malawians of Asian origin which might lead to “huge repercussions in future”.

In the statement published in the mainstream media as an advertorial, FND says it is “saddened with gross human rights violations being perpetrated to Malawians of Asian origin, their community and businesses — which is emanating from racial profiling, hate, blackmail and extortion scheme”.

“We are becoming worried of how Malawians of Asian origin, commonly called ‘amwenye’, are being targeted with hate messages, abuse and are a victim of well-orchestrated blackmail and extortion scheme,” says the statement signed by chairperson Bright Kampaaundi and national coordinator Fryson Chodzi.

Kampaundi and Chonzi : Against racial profiling

“We are even worried that any attempt for them to clear their names and pursue justice is frowned upon by the public. All of a sudden, it seems there is a general consensus that ‘amenye’ are the source of all Malawians’ problems, and any accusation leveled upon them is gospel truth — in fact, they are guilty as charged on any case until proven innocent.”

FND maintains that even when competent courts find them innocent, they are perceived as not really innocent “but might have bribed their way to freedom”.

Thus FND believes “it’s time the country initiated a dialogue among the races to protect these Malawians, lest we are breeding a hate nation which will have huge repercussions in future”.

Its says every citizen has the right to be heard and has the right to due process of the law and above all, any suspect is innocent until proven guilty — but this is not the case in as far as Malawians of Asian origin are concerned.

FND also says the social media has exacerbated the racism against these citizenry, which has become a fertile ground for hate towards their business community, saying this development can dangerously move towards labelling all all of them “as corrupt, crooked and thieves”.

It contends that social media has become a platform for character assassination, extortion and blackmail, where several individuals have used the non-regulated platform attack these citizens with the hope that they will just “pay up in order not to be featured in bad light on social media”.

“Malawi has freedom of speech but responsibility towards the same is where your freedom must not injure another person’s. Each and every day, there are social media individuals making strong allegations against certain individuals and their businesses but when called to substantiate them, they end up issuing public apologies.

“Knowing that there is growing resentment towards them, the personalities on social media have made Malawians of Asian origin as an easy target for false, slanderous and malicious allegations.

“Strangely, as a country, we are convincing each other that all Malawians of Asian origin ndi obwera (foreigners) due to texture of their skin — hence we seem to be justified in our attacks.”

FND adds that people attack Indians when they acquire land and even when they get a business contract from the government — the assumption being that “corruption must have taken place”.

“We are more than convinced that the term obwera is derived from the colour of their skin rather than the truth and historical facts. In this country, there are ‘amwenye’ who are more Malawian than we black Malawians.

“Some came to Malawi before it was even called Nyasaland — way back before other tribes who feel more Malawian came to the country. Without fear of contradiction, they arrived in Malawi before the Ngonis and Alomwes and other tribes.”

Thus describing all ‘amwenye ngati obwera’ is racial profiling which leads to dangerous conflict and FND says this must stop.

FND takes cognizance that corruption in this country is deep rooted and worrisome but this an undeniable social ill is across all tribes, races and gender”.

It also says it is an undeniable fact that, in Malawi, people who have monopolised businesses and access to land is across all races, tribes and gender while urging the state security agents to investigate and bring to book any person or businesses that might have corruptly acquired land or got favoured for business contacts and opportunities.

Besides that, even though Malawi has a willing seller and willing buyer policy in most private land deals, it is not an issue when a black Malawian acquires huge plots of land “but when the other race does the same, we cry foul, corruption and insults”.

FND also observes that when a black Malawian is arrested due to tax evasion or tax fraud, it’s business as usual but when it concerns a Malawian of Asian origin, the entire community is branded as corrupt.

FND warns that racial profiling grows like cancer until such a time when it explodes, saying “this growing hate towards other races — if it continues to be nurtured — will one day explode and create conflict in Malawi”.

It maintains that not all Malawians of Asian origin are corrupt or involved in fraud, saying “any whistle blowing must not be accompanied with hate message towards a certain race, tribe or creed of people.

“It is time we put effective whistle blower programmes among the security agencies than these social media platform which has become fertile ground for extortion and blackmail.

“We urge the government to design and develop a whistle blower protection policy which will allow people with genuine and sincere issues to expose them.

“While it is a fact that there are some ‘amwenye’ who might come into conflict with the law in regards to their business dealings, blanket categorization of all is a worst form of racial profiling.

“In the society of Malawian of Asian origin, just like any other society there, will be bad apples and that does not make everyone to be equally bad.

“It is our sincere hope that the proposed engagement and national dialogue of coexistence among tribes and races will be given due consideration. Should the platform arise, the endgame should be multi-sectoral and across all faith groups.”

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