Tag Archives: torture

Massacres, forced labour haunt Zimbabwe diamond fields

Military control over diamond mining in Zimbabwe’s eastern Marange district has resulted in a brutal mix of massacres, forced labour, beatings and rape.

This is according to a comprehensive report released last week by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the New York-based rights NGO, which interviewed over 100 people in the region in February 2009.

Mining in Marange began in 2006. Initially the government allowed anybody to prospect in the area. Then it started clamping down. Recognizing the mines as an important revenue opportunity, the Zanu PF-controlled army invaded the mines in October 2008, massacring over 200 miners in the process.

Helicopters swooped down over illegal miners, shooting live ammunition and teargas. 800 soldiers were sent in to secure the area. Illegal miners were forced to dig mass graves for their murdered comrades. The report says:

A local headman told Human Rights Watch that in the three weeks of the military operation, Chiadzwa resembled “a war zone in which soldiers killed people like flies.” Another headman was forced to bury five bodies of miners; all five bodies had what appeared to be bullet wounds. None of the bodies were identifiable.

With the army in control of the area, the violence has continued and illegal mining – which the police and military were ostensibly supposed to shut down – has continued to flourish, this time in the hands of soldiers.

The army is forcing at least 300 children to work without pay in the mines. A woman forced to work on the mines told an HRW researcher: ‘We worked together with about 30 children of ages between 10 and 17 years. The children worked the same 11 hours each day as adults did. The soldiers had a duty roster for all villagers in Chiadzwa to take turns to work in the fields, irrespective of age.’ The woman explained how men did the digging, while children and women carried the ore, then sieved it before sorting the diamonds. The women and children were forced to work without breaks, with soldiers not even providing food and water, and beating those working too slowly.

Soldiers have also been plundering impoverished villages, stealing items like cellphones, maize and blankets. In addition to this, the report reveals that:

Several witnesses and victims told Human Rights Watch that soldiers continue to assault, harass, and subject the local community to torture…

Two such incidences occurred in February 2009 when:

[F]ive soldiers beat three Muchena villagers for over five hours using a rubber hose without stating any reasons for the assault. The same night, eight soldiers assaulted a family in Muedzengwa village using open palms, clenched fists, rifle butts, and booted feet. The soldiers then allegedly stole several items of personal property. During the beatings, the soldiers demanded information on local miners, which the villagers did not have.

Zanu PF party apparatchiks have also threatened to forcibly remove those who live in the area, estimated by HRW to be about 7000 families. The reign of terror and military oppression continues, with the illicit profits from smuggling (diamonds are sent illegally to Mozambique and Johannesburg, South Africa) benefiting soldiers and senior Zanu PF officials.

HRW has called on Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government to intervene and place police control over the area, ensuring ‘that the police abide by internationally recognized standards of law enforcement and use of lethal force.’ It also calls for the government to launch an investigation into the rampant human rights abuses in the area.

Unfortunately, the unity government is unlikely to do anything. While Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is eager to claim that Zimbabwe has made great strides in governance reform, and that his nemesis President Robert Mugabe is accepting this process, nothing could be further from the truth.

As I have discussed in the past, Zanu PF is doing its utmost to stall reforms proposed in the unity agreement. Furthermore, human rights activists, lawyers and opposition MDC politicos continue to be unlawfully harassed and detained. Hundreds of prisoners die of starvation in jail. And land grabs and persecution of farmers occur with impunity.

Zanu PF’s undemocratic participation in government is only further aiding Zimbabwe’s disintegration and prolonging the suffering of our ordinary Zimbabweans. The world cannot look away from the horrifying abuses and continuing tyranny in the Marange diamond fields and elsewhere. It is no use pretending that Zanu PF is prepared to surrender its illegitimate and strangulating hold on power. Zimbabwe will continue its agonizing implosion if the West decides to prop up this sham unity government.

Regional powerhouse South Africa as well as Europe, Britain and the US need to act in the best interests of all Zimbabweans and force Zanu PF to accept the rule of law and ensure that the obligations in the unity agreement are adhered to. The suffering citizens of Marange, and of Zimbabwe as a whole, deserve nothing less.


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BREAKING NEWS: Two-year-old released after 3 month imprisonment

According to today’s main story posted on The Zimbabwe Times, the two-year-old toddler incarcerated and tortured at the notorious Chikurubi Prison was released yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. He has spent three months imprisoned; his mother continues to remain behind bars.

Nigel Mutemagau released Tuesday after three months in detention. - pic courtesty The Zimbabwe Times

"Nigel Mutemagau released Tuesday after three months in detention." - pic courtesy The Zimbabwe Times

According to the article:

“Medical reports show that during his abduction and continued detention for charges of banditry and terrorism, two year-old Nigel was assaulted and denied food and medical attention by his captors,” Chamisa [MDC spokesman] said in a statement.

“He was later referred to Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare where he was detained for almost two weeks.”

The release of Nigel follows last month’s order by High Court Judge Justice Yunus Omerjee ordering the release of the child, as well as various MDC members and human rights activists who were abducted from various locations over the past three months.

Relatives of Nigel are being looked for so that the child can be taken care of.

Read more about the abduction and unlawful imprisonment of Zimbabwean activists here.

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Two-year-old kid tortured in notorious Zim prison

There are no limits to the brutality that Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF government is prepared to employ in ensuring its continued grip on power. Recently, human rights activists and opposition supporters were abducted and thrown into the notorious Chikurubi Prison.

Here they have been subjected to torture and beating. Very little food has been provided. They are not allowed to see outside visitors. Their captors have also forced them to confess to having undergone military training in Botswana to launch an armed rebellion to topple the Zimbabwe government. These allegations, denied by Botswana, are widely accepted as merely an excuse to supress rightful dissent in Zimbabwe and force its populace into fearful, silent submission.

One of those imprisoned is a two-year-old little toddler called Nigel Mutemagau who was abducted three months ago along with his two parents. Little Nigel has been beaten in front of his mother in attempt to force her to admit to the charges leveled against her.

As Zimbabwean blogger Denford Magora says:

He can not speak up for himself. And if the stories from the lawyers are true, he is puzzled as he is beaten by strangers, not knowing what crime he committed to deserve this. He sees his mother, whom he instinctively considers his protector, watch helplessly while he is being beaten.

The Chikurubi Prison is no place for a child. Magora describes it:

Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, where two year old Nigel is being kept in solitary confinement, is notorious for its atrocious conditions even during Zimbabwe’s better days. Now however, the conditions are much worse. Prison authorities do not have enough food to feed the inmates. They are struggling to make ends meet, much like the rest of Zimbabwe’s public sector. Against this background, the prison authorities say that they have been given instructions not to allow food to be brought to the inmates (including to children) from the outside. No visits from relatives are allowed for these particular prisoners, including for 2 year old Nigel. Even lawyers struggle to gain access and when they do, there is always a state official present.

The continued persecution of not only opposition activists but a two-year-old toddler must immediately come to an end. It is imperative for South Africa — and the world — must act now to pressure the Zimbabwean government into ending their vicious assault on basic human freedoms.

To remain silent is to condone what is happening in Zimabwe. We cannot, for the sake of freedom and respect for the dignity and equality of all, turn away and ignore this shameful, horrifying state of affairs.


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The Zanu-PF Fan Club (also known as the ANC)

Robert Mugabe is one lucky dictator, being in the enviable position of having outsourced his foreign diplomacy efforts to the South African government. By preventing a discussion in the United Nations Security Council on Zimbabwe’s political situation, South Africa is doing its utmost to ensure that the international community does nothing about the tyrannous regime’s evermore-brutal attempts to cling to power.

In post-election Zimbabwe, Mugabe has launched Operation Mavoterapapi [Where Did You Vote] which involves the systematic persecution of MDC supporters. Torture camps are being used, and roving gangs of Zanu PF youth militia round up suspects, beating them, and in some cases murdering them.

This is well documented, and clearly should be dealt with by the Security Council as a matter of urgency. The reason South Africa has blocked discussion about Zimbabwe is ostensibly because it believes that Zimbabwe’s implosion does not pose a threat to international peace and security — the requirement for something to be discussed in the Security Council. But this does not make sense. Firstly what is of greater importance: the lives and rights of millions, or UN protocol? Secondly, one could easily argue that Zimbabwe is indeed posing a threat to international peace and security: The flood of refugees (an estimated three million) into South Africa and the violent xenophobic backlash that has subsequently occurred is proof of this.

Thus the only plausible explanation behind blocking discussion of the crisis is that the South African government continues to be an unquestioning and unwavering supporter of Mugabe’s regime. Running contrary to the values enshrined in our constitution, its shameful behaviour at the UN means that it effectively condones the fascist subjugation of the Zimbabwean people and the assault on their fundamental human rights and democratic will.

In a betrayal of its guiding principles, the ANC has placed not only its commitment to democracy but also its credibility as a liberation movement in jeopardy. Since our ruling party is prepared to turn a blind eye to the flagrant oppression across the border, does this mean that when its political hegemony is effectively challenged, that it will resort to the same vicious measures to stay in power?


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Zim torture camps exposed

In this chilling exposé, an undercover journalist from the Daily Telegraph reveals the horrifying brutality that Zanu PF thugs are subjecting suspected MDC suppporters to.

Lists have been drawn up, and alleged MDC supporters are being rounded up and sent to a makeshift torture camp set up in a former school.

Click here for to read the article.

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