Monday, October 29, 2007

Pan-African Parliament Criticises EU Over Bulgarian Nurses Charged in Libya

African MPs Criticise European Parliament Over 'HIV Nurses'

Mmegi/The Reporter
26 October 2007
By Bame Piet

The relationship between the Pan African Parliament (PAP) and the European Parliament is on the verge of collapse after the latter earlier this year rolled out the red carpet for Bulgarian nurses convicted for infecting Libyan children with HIV, the Assistant Minister of Local Government, Ambrose Masalila, has confirmed.

PAP on Wednesday resolved to demand a written explanation and an apology from the European Parliament, failing which relations between the two will be suspended.

This follows a motion tabled by Libyan MP, Dr Mohammed Alourafy, requesting PAP support for the children of Libya. Alourafy said after Libya commuted the death sentence imposed on the nurses to a life sentence, Libya had agreed to release the nurses on the basis of an agreement with Bulgaria that the convicts would serve their sentences in their home country.

But the nurses were treated to a heroes' welcome instead, disregarding the seriousness of the crime they had committed. "They were even invited to the European Parliament where they also received a heroes' welcome," Alourafy said. Libya was dismayed at this, wondering what message was being conveyed to them and the rest of the world.

Members of the Pan African Parliament said this was yet another example of how Europeans disregard Africans. They characterised it as betrayal, saying Africans need to be careful when dealing with Europeans in future.

Another motion adopted by PAP was one tabled by Micheal Temple of Swaziland requesting the protection of African heritage and indigenous knowledge systems. However, Botswana's MP for Palapye, Boyce Sebetela, successfully introduced an amendment to the motion, arguing that it would be suicidal for Africans to try to fight to protect their creative work while they also want to benefit from the creative work of others.

Sebetela said drugs for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS are very expensive because their producers want to recover the costs of producing them while African countries are negotiating for cheaper generic drugs. The MPs noted that Africans have long been abused by developed nations which stole African flora and fauna, its knowledge and even its identity in the form of languages.

An MP from Ghana said it was time Africa identified a common language, giving the example of KiSwahili in East Africa. He said that Europeans had so colonised Africans that Africans go to Europe to study African languages at considerable costs. Chief Charumbira from Zimbabwe said Africans lack self-esteem, hence they want to speak, live and behave like Europeans as a mark of 'civilised standards' while Europeans do not want to lose the slightest bit of their culture.

"We want to look like Europeans to feel better," he said. The 80-member House continued with Committee reports yesterday (Thursday), before concluding business today.

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