Opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) says it has suspicions that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is not transparent about the evacuation of citizens from the tsunami and earthquake ravaged Japan.
The BCP’s Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, says he has misgivings about the secrecy surrounding the evacuation process after affected students studying in Japan were not allowed to speak to the local press.
“When the students first reported at Block 8 Clinic, the media was not allowed to interact with them by officials from Foreign Affairs. We also received reports that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation sent them [students] threatening emails if they ever talked about their ordeal,” says Gobotswang.
The BCP secretary general claims students were treated like suspects of a criminal investigation.
“This is a clear infringement of their civil liberties. Foreign Affairs should have been transparent about this matter. Students must be traumatized and they require professional counselling not further harassment by the authorities,” says.
Minister Phandu Skelemani could not immediately respond to the allegations by the BCP as he was accompanying visiting Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika and promised to designate his permanent secretary to respond. The PS had not responded by the time of going to press.
The government decided to repatriate Botswana citizens living in Japan in view of the possible consequences of radiation from reported four damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant.
Botswana Ambassador to Japan, Pulaentle Kenosi, has denied that the evacuation was conducted in secrecy.
“The students were told to be alive to the sensitivities of the situation in Japan. The decision to evacuate them was taken as a precaution,” Kenosi said.