As Malawi is still in enraged over the exposure by the BBC Africa Eye on June 13 — of inhumane and degrading treatment of Malawian children by some Chinese nationals — the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has enlisted the support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to investigate the allegations further within its jurisdiction.
A statement from the Ministry says it shares the shock and dismay over social media videos that are distributed for profit as captured by a conclusive investigative journalism piece by BBC Africa Eye journalist, Runako Celina — in conjunction with a Malawian scribe Henry Mhango.
The two journalists, through their clandestine investigations, exposed that a Chinese national was abusing rights of Malawian children by shooting derogatory videos which he sells for huge profit back in China.
While the Malawi Police Service assured the nation a day later that they have instituted their own legal investigations on revelations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs adds its own strong condemnation, saying it “considers the actions by the perpetrators of such unacceptable mentality as an affront to the principles enshrined in various international human rights instruments — including the United Nations Charter and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
Thus enlisting the support of China in investigating the allegations further within its jurisdiction, saying “this will be done through collaboration with the Malawi authorities in order to ensure that perpetrators of such actions are prosecuted accordingly”.
“The Ministry further wishes to request members of the public to desist from generalizing this unfortunate incident to all Chinese nationals that are resident in Malawi.
“The Malawi government values the human dignity of all peoples and has instituted the Ministry of National Unity to promote tolerance and acceptance of diversity.
“The Republic of Malawi will take every necessary step to protect the rights of all its citizens, including vulnerable groups such as children and girls,” said the statement.
In its reaction to the revelations, the Chinese Embassy in Malawi issued a statement on its Facebook page, saying it also noted “with great concern” over the BBC piece entitled ‘Racism for Sale’.
The Embassy said: “We strongly condemn racism in any form, by anyone or happening anywhere. We also noted that the video was shot in 2020.
“It shall be stressed that Chinese government has zero tolerance for racism. In the past years, China has been cracking down on such unlawful online acts and achieved tangible results.”
The Embassy had also assured that they were ready to “work with the Malawi side and see to it that this issue be properly addressed”.
But this statement did not please some Malawians and prompted Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) to describe it as careless.
Addressing the media in Lilongwe on Wednesday, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa said the Chinese Embassy’s wording of its statement was “not enough to compensate Malawians who have been injured by the content of the controversial video”.
Namiwa also warned government authorities to desist from employing delaying tactics and futile attempts to shield the culprit Chinese national — identified as Lu Ke by the investigative piece complete with where he was operating from at Njewa in Lilongwe.
Namiwa took special note that if the Chinese Embassy had noted of Lu Ke had distributed his video in 2020, why did it keep quiet all this time until the BBC report and its subsequent further viral on social media.
Namiwa had also expressed his dismay over the lukewarm response from the authorities in dealing with the matter, saying they are “claiming to be investigating the matter when there is nothing akin to seriousness and urgency in their statements”.
“Thus far, CDEDI is hereby challenging both the Malawi and the Chinese governments to treat this matter with the urgency and seriousness it deserves,” he had said. “It should be emphasized that any attempts to downplay the issue or help the suspect to beat the long arm of the law will only succeed in stirring avoidable actions with far-reaching consequences.”
He had also revealed that the suspect, Lu Ke — who had reportedly been previously charged with human trafficking offences — had already fled the country.
“This speaks volumes about the status of the country’s security, and lack of its seriousness on cracking down criminal acts,” Namiwa had said.
Namiwa then demanded that if Lu Ke had indeed bolted “as feared, the onus is on the Chinese Government to bring him back to Malawi to face the law” and that the Chinese Ambassador should “make a public apology to Malawians, in particular the black community”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasis that the public should “desist from generalizing this unfortunate incident to all Chinese nationals that are resident in Malawi” comes after Namiwa gave 48 hours for the Immigration Department, the Malawi Police Service and the Malawi Trade and Investment Centre “to flush out all Chinese nationals staying or doing business in the country illegally”.
Namiwa had warned that failure by the stated institutions to act as demanded will leave CDEDI “with no choice, but to mobilise the masses to hold peaceful demonstrations and Mr Lu Ke and like-minded racists”.
As a recap, Runako — revealed that Lu Ke trended amongst the children he abuses as Susu (Chinese for uncle) and that she came across one video that went viral globally in which a group of children were taught to speak a Chinese phrase in which they unknowingly uttered what was translated as ‘blacks are devils and blacks have low IQ’.
When it went globally viral, Runako made her own investigations that showed such videos are being made in various African country in which their producers sell for huge profits.
The children are made to speak in Chinese and unknowingly attest that the Chinese are good people and in turn are rewarded with some cheap food gifts.
Runako managed to trace that the ‘blacks are devils and blacks have low IQ’ video was shot in Malawi and in particular in Njewa, Lilongwe and she solicited the help of the local journalist Henry Mhango to confirm that indeed Susu was based there.
Upon confirmation, Runako visited Malawi and with Mhango made a few clandestine investigations using a fellow Chinese equipped with a hidden camera in which Susu confirmed he did took the video but later retracted it whilst asking the informer to delete it.
In that clandestine investigation, the hidden camera caught Susu making racist remarks against Malawian blacks, saying they as Chinese should never feel sorry for their underprivileged lives.
Runako and Mhango interviewed parents of six-year-old Bright — one of the children used prominent for all such videos in which he gives a thumbs up with a charming smile — who shed tears when they were told by the two journalists what their son had been subjected to.
Bright also revealed that he was sometimes pinched or whipped when he missed out some of the Chinese phrases.
The boy’s father appealed to the authorities asking is the Chinese national should be evicted from their area.
Another parent attested that she tried to stop her child from visiting the Chinese but Susu kept coming and forced him back to his demeaning actions.
Runako and Mhango also engaged the kids, some of whom identified themselves in the demeaning videos.
When the two accosted the Chinese in the company of an interpreter, he vehemently denied shooting such videos, which according to Runako’s investigations, he made 380 videos a day earning himself around K77 — but was paying the children something below US$1.
There have been made allegations made against the conduct of Chinese national’s in the country, who have time and again been accused of abusing their employees but had inconclusive investigations by the police and relevant authorities.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that when people report of such human rights abuses, the suspects use other Malawians as middlemen to hugely bribe the whistleblowers, who — because of poverty — receive the kickbacks and withdraw their allegations.