Canada bars Canadians from Zimbabwe during shutdown

Buses carrying Canadian citizens traveling to Zimbabwe are getting detention orders and permanent limitations as the country’s authorities tighten security during the shutdown of a protest by indigenous people. The Canadian government imposed no…

Canada bars Canadians from Zimbabwe during shutdown

Buses carrying Canadian citizens traveling to Zimbabwe are getting detention orders and permanent limitations as the country’s authorities tighten security during the shutdown of a protest by indigenous people.

The Canadian government imposed no such restrictions on travelers during the period of the protests last year.

Community and social groups say the new restrictions, which come into effect Thursday, discriminate against Aboriginal people in Canada, particularly in countries like Zimbabwe.

Petr Czerwonka/National Post via Getty Images Protesters try to halt traffic as they block a road outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in Ottawa on April 13, 2018.

“I absolutely think the Canadian government discriminates against First Nations First Nations from Zimbabwe in this decision to permit this back-door shutdown of the Zimbabwean Embassy,” said Roger Cockburn, president of Advocates for First Nations.

According to an Association for African Canadian Professionals (AfCAP) news release, not only are Canadian nationals living in Zimbabwe prohibited from entering the country, but also some members of Zimbabwe’s diaspora. The group argues that the Canadian government has “embraced the black separatist ideology that is being used to oppress and demonize African Canadians, Latinos, Asians and everyone with a noticeable difference.”

CNN attempted to reach government officials for comment on the new rules. However, in a statement issued on Thursday, the federal Department of Foreign Affairs said the “Blackshirts” protest didn’t threaten Canadian public safety, and denied reports that it was preventing Canadian tourists from traveling to the country.

“To say, we currently have restrictions on travel to Zimbabwe is a gross misrepresentation of the facts,” the statement said. “Despite the harassment Canadians in Zimbabwe faced, the number of U.S. citizens traveling to Zimbabwe has steadily grown over the past several years.”

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa is in Washington this week for a three-day visit.

Blackshirts refers to the protest organized in April by a group of 40,000 people. It was part of a six-week peaceful movement that lasted from March 16 to April 29.

The group called for the replacement of Robert Mugabe, who was then in power, with Mnangagwa, a top ruling party official who took power after the veteran leader stepped down after 37 years in power.

On the weekend of the demonstration, the Canadian government expanded security controls in diplomatic areas. The measures apply to more than 20 diplomatic missions in North America and the Caribbean, according to the Canadian embassy in Zimbabwe.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC Alliance urged Canadians to boycott the country after citizens from several countries were barred from traveling there.

Scott Stallings, president of the Ontario Association of Importers, Importers and Exporters, said that according to official figures more than 700 tourists are expected to arrive by air in Zimbabwe during the shutdown.

“These are measures that are not based on sound legal reasoning,” Stallings said. “They only serve to hurt poor Zimbabweans and Canadians, who are being discriminated against.”

Reporter Joe Marcus contributed to this report.

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