Monday, September 20, 2010

Death by silence

from the Zimbabwe telegraph:

A five-year genocide in Zimbabwe from 1982 raised barely a whisper from London, Washington or the UN.

Journalist and genocide scholar, Geoff Hill, looks at a shameful episode that has yet to be resolved.

In July this year, Mr. Melusi Matshiya was arrested in Zimbabwe’s southern city of Bulawayo for trying a display his paintings of a genocide in which several of his family were killed.

Depending on who you talk to, from 1982 to 1987, between 10 000 and 40 000 people were murdered in the Matabeleland province around Bulawayo. The government is still so touchy that most of the bodies lie in mass graves and families who try to exhume them face arrest.

Robert Mugabe who ordered the killings, remains head of state, but is banned from entering the Europe, the US and a dozen other countries because of human rights abuse since 2000 and a string of rigged elections.

His party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) still controls all key ministries and the army.

You can talk politics in Zimbabwe, but there are risks: In early September another young man was jailed for 10 months for “insulting the president” whom he described as old and wrinkly.

Independent newspapers are coming into print after a government monopoly that dates back to when Mugabe nationalised the press in 1981, and more political space exists now than at perhaps any time in the past 50 years … unless you want to discuss the killings known locally as Gukurahundi or “a wind that blows away the chaff”....

In late 1980, Robert Mugabe visited President Kim il Sung in Pyongyang and signed a secret deal for North Korean instructors to train an exclusively Shona unit that would answer to Mugabe himself. A year later, the resultant Fifth Brigade entered Matabeleland commanded by Lt Col. Perence Shire who now heads the Zimbabwe Air Force....

“When the world turned a blind eye to Matabeleland, Mugabe may have expected to get away with the second round of carnage he inflicted on the whole of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“The international community must learn that impunity for serious crimes entrenches a culture of violence and abuse.”...

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