Posts Tagged ‘Robert Mugabe’

Duterte, Hun Sen nominated for 2017 Confucius Peace (of the graveyard) Prize

December 6, 2017

2017-05-11T120000Z_1745229718_RC1506183260_RTRMADP_3_WEF-ASEAN-940x580

Even if one is aware of the difference between a peace prize and a human rights award (see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/05/geneva-the-right-place-for-the-worlds-human-rights-award/), the nomination of Duterte and Hun Sen as candidates for the Confucius Peace Prize seems almost cynical.

The  informs us on a year of bloody campaigns, infringements on human rights and accusations of authoritarianism, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen seem like unlikely candidates to be included in a shortlist of nominees for a peace prize. But the 2017 Confucius Peace Prize, labelled the Chinese alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize, has selected the two Southeast Asian leaders for this year’s award.

Awarded by a private company, the Confucius awards have courted controversy since their foundation in 2010. Originally set up under the Association of Chinese Indigenous Arts in China, then-chairman Tan Changliu claimed the award existed to “promote world peace from an Eastern perspective.” But the award has since been banned by China’s Culture Ministry, forcing the organisers to relocate to Hong Kong. The renamed China International Peace Research Center has presented the award to a string of authoritarian political figures who favour a pro-Beijing stance. In 2015, the recipient was former Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who was accused of a “litany of human rights abuses” over his 37-year term. The organiser cited his “contribution to peace in Africa,” but the award drew widespread international criticism. Mugabe declined to accept the award, which comes with US$15,000 prize money. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/10/23/mugabe-wins-chinese-peace-prize-this-time-for-real/]

Other winners include Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, former Cuba’s president Fidel Castro, and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The winners are announced in early December.

Read more at https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/12/duterte-hun-sen-nominated-2017-confucius-peace-prize/#kpW31LjFIIJ4A407.99

Human rights defenders in Zimbabwe rejoice but realize still long away to go

November 23, 2017

With Mugabe’s departure there is light at the end of the tunnel but there is a lot of cleaning up to do. Two recent opinion pieces make the point:

'Mugabe’s departure offers Zimbabwe an opportunity to make a break from its past,' writes Deprose Muchena (Zinyange Auntony, AFP)
‘Mugabe’s departure offers Zimbabwe an opportunity to make a break from its past,’ (Zinyange Auntony, AFP)

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s regional director for Southern Africa, wrote a piece in the Mail & Guardian of 23 November 2017 under title From reconciliation to repression: Mugabe’s painful legacy“.

Muchena traces first Robert Mugabe’s political career that saw early successes ultimately wiped out by a litany of human rights abuses.

Mugabe started well in his early years as leader of Zimbabwe following the transition from British colonial rule. He oversaw heavy investment in Zimbabwe’s social services. Areas including health and education saw dramatic improvements, with the country still enjoying one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. The results of this significant investment in education are there for everyone to see. But Mugabe later undermined his own legacy. During his 37 years in power, he presided over the brutal repression of political opponents, established a culture of impunity for himself and his cronies, and his government implemented a series of policies that have had disastrous consequences for Zimbabweans…Mugabe began his political life fighting against injustice. Imprisoned, and later exiled for his political activities, he was one of more than 900 prisoners of conscience in Zimbabwe adopted by Amnesty International between 1965 and 1979.

After independence political opponents, (repression of Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe Africa People’s Union, military crackdown across Matabeleland and Midlands provinces) ……With nobody held accountable for the killings, a dangerous precedent of impunity was set early on in Mugabe’s reign. It was one he went on to exploit time and again.

Throughout his presidency, general elections were characterised by spikes of serious human rights violations and abuses by state security agents and Zanu-PF activists. Opposition supporters suffered torture, harassment, intimidation and death…A wave of violence unleashed by the army against those suspected of voting for the MDC ensured that Mugabe won by a comfortable margin after the second round of votes was counted.

An increasing reliance on security services to suppress dissenting voices in and outside his party became a hallmark of Mugabe’s rule. Human rights defenders, journalists, those with dissenting views and opposition party activists were locked up on politically motivated charges or under draconian laws. Some were tortured or “disappeared”. Much early progress made on economic, social and cultural rights was wiped out by a series of disastrous government policy decisions. Carried out in 2005, Operation Murambatsvina — a Shona word for “drive out trash” — was one of the most devastating forced evictions in Zimbabwean history…

Although land reform was clearly needed and resulted in some legitimate large-scale redistribution, it was also used as a system of patronage. It rewarded Mugabe’s supporters with land but denied it to those considered supporters of opposition parties. Escaping repression and a shrinking economy, three million Zimbabweans have left the country since 2000…

 

Mugabe’s departure offers Zimbabwe an opportunity to make a break from its past. Zimbabwe’s future lies in renouncing impunity, addressing the human rights violations of the past, ensuring reparations for the victims and respecting the rule of law. The next generation of leaders must commit to upholding the Constitution and live up to Zimbabwe’s international and regional human rights obligations.

———————–

Supporters of Zimbabwe’s former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa await his arrival in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 22, 2017. PHILIMON BULAWAYO/ REUTERS

Mandipa Ndlovu says that “during Mugabe’s reign, over one-third of the population (4-million people) was forced to relocate to abroad to seek better opportunities for them and their families, as well as escape the iron-fisted rule of the former president. The end of an era marked the beginning of a newfound hope that released dormant life in the Zimbabwean community both in the country and around the world.

That long-time Mugabe ally, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will become the new president.. has been welcomed in regards to change for the southern African country, but must be engaged with from a nuanced position regarding the sustainability of human rights and good governance in the country…Zimbabweans are past bitterness and anger, we just want recognition and acknowledgement of past wrongs. This is the only way the country can move forward.

The fact is that Britain’s and the West’s policy was that of turning a blind eye to the black Zimbabwean persecutions of 1980 to 1987 and only reacted with economic sanctions when white-occupied farms were invaded in 2000. Moreover, the legacy of colonialism up until this point had remained one which the Zimbabwean people now realise was exploitative. This, for many Zimbabweans, highlights the interests of which demographic of the Zimbabwean population they seek to strengthen. This lack of historical recognition remains a sticking point to the black population of Zimbabwe, who have both lived through and experienced the effect of economic sanctions placed on the country as a result of Mugabe’s rule. One which needs to be rectified…

It would therefore be a disservice to the future of human rights to disregard the need to address this. Zimbabweans need to have these fears allayed through the initiation of both restorative and distributive justice in order to legitimise real change. In this, however, it is imperative to note that Zimbabweans are past bitterness and anger, we just want recognition and acknowledgement of past wrongs. This is the only way the country can move forward.

.. We have not forgotten people such as Itai Dzamara, whose whereabouts still need to be accounted for. It is not enough to remove the face of fear and violence when the potential for the re-engagement with the system still exists under untainted structures of governance. It is imperative that the narrative of ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ under the new regime does not gloss over the grief of loss (material, physical and in time) as linked to trauma and its subsequent memory..

In the new Zimbabwe, there should not be room to romanticise about the past and its legacies. The culture that tip-toes around the acceptability of violence within the public sphere for the perpetuation of political gain must be thwarted. This can be particularly translated to the politics of grief in reconciling the “violence” narrative…Regardless of what reforms are dormant in Mnangagwa’s hat as he ascends to the presidency, the sentiments of cooperation and the respect of human rights expressed in his press statement on November 21 will go a long way in legitimising bodies. These are the ideals to which the Zimbabwean people must continue to hold him and his administration to account.

For some of my earlier posts on Zimbabwe: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/zimbabwe/

Sources:

https://mg.co.za/article/2017-11-23-from-reconciliation-to-repression-mugabes-painful-legacy

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/mandipha-ndlovu/is-there-a-future-of-sustainable-peace-and-human-rights-for-zimbabwe_a_23286098/

World Health Organization reconsidering Mugabe as “goodwill ambassador”

October 22, 2017

he head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is rethinking his decision to name Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, as a goodwill ambassador.  The move provoked global outrage. WHO member states and activists alike noted that Zimbabwe’s health care system, like many of its public services, has collapsed under Mugabe’s regime. I’m listening. I hear your concerns. Rethinking the approach in light of WHO values. I will issue a statement as soon as possible,” Tedros, a former Ethiopian health minister, tweeted on Saturday night.

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, came closest when he said he thought Mugabe’s appointment “was a bad April Fool’s joke”. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/10/23/mugabe-wins-chinese-peace-prize-this-time-for-real/]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was an embarrassment to give the ambassador role to Mr Mugabe, because his “utter mismanagement of the economy has devastated health services”. The main opposition party in Zimbabwe, MDC, described the appointment as “laughable”…“Mugabe trashed our health delivery system. He and his family go outside of the country for treatment in Singapore after he allowed our public hospitals to collapse.”

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) also condemned the decision by the World Health Organization (WHO): “The irony of the World Health Organization’s decision to praise Robert Mugabe is staggering. This a strongman infamous for seeking medical attention for himself abroad. His recent visits to Singapore for medical treatment have cost Zimbabwean taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Mugabe can’t get adequate treatment in his own country because his kleptocratic regime has left Zimbabwe’s hospitals and health industry in a state of ruin,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “Dr. Tedros should nullify Mugabe’s appointment immediately and also issue a strong public condemnation of his repressive rule”.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/21/un-lambasted-after-naming-mugabe-goodwill-ambassador

HRF condemns World Health Organization for appointing Robert Mugabe as “goodwill ambassador”

The magical number 92 in Zimbabwe!

February 25, 2016

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe turned 92 this month. Public Domain photo by the U.S. Air Force.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. Public domain photo by the U.S. Air Force.

Two recent items on Zimbabwe showed an interesting link with the number 92 – coincidence?:

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, nicknamed ‘Uncle Bob’, turned 92 on 21 February 2016.

Human rights defenders have been arrested while doing their work and in 92% of the cases the arrests were unjustified and victims acquitted. We have 224 cases of human rights defenders including lawyers, members of civic society organisations, journalists and student activists arrested and charged,” said Dzimbabwe Chimbga of  Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) appearing before the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human Rights on 26 February.

Amnesty International’s and Human Rights Watch’s annual reports of 2015 contain enough information to make the 92% a good estimate

For earlier posts on Zimbabwe see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/zimbabwe/

Sources

https://globalvoices.org/2016/02/23/worlds-oldest-president-zimbabwes-robert-mugabe-turns-92/

‘Increasing cases of human rights violations worrisome’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe

Mugabe wins Chinese peace prize – this time for real

October 23, 2015

When I wrote my 1 April 2013 post about President Robert Mugabe getting the revamped Gaddafi award [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/gaddafi-human-rights-award-resurrected-mugabe-rumored-to-be-laureate/], I could not know that one day he would actually get an award. But according to the Guardian and other newspapers this what happened when he was given the “Confucius award“, which was set up in 2010 as a Chinese alternative to the Nobel peace prize after the Norwegian Nobel committee infuriated Beijing by handing its annual peace prize to the jailed dissident writer Liu XiaoboRead the rest of this entry »

Itai Dzamara’s disappearance worrying for all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe

May 5, 2015

On 4 May 2015 Bridget Mananavire of Nehanda Radio in Zimbabwe marked 54 days since the disappearance of human rights activist and journalist, Itai Dzamara, with law enforcement agents continuing to profess ignorance over his whereabouts.

Abducted political activist Itai Dzamara
Human rights defender Itai Dzamara, abducted on 9 March by yet unidentified men

Rashid Mahiya, Heal Zimbabwe Trust executive director, said the government’s silence raised suspicion: “Itai Dzamara’s disappearance raises a distressing sense of insecurity among many human rights defenders in the country. The government’s silence vindicates speculation that its security agencies are responsible for Itai’s abduction and disappearance”…….”the State has a presence of abducting citizens, active opposition and human rights leaders and activists, some of whom disappeared and were never found while others were later discovered in police custody. Jestina Mukoko was abducted in 2008 and later discovered in police custody after 21 days while persons like Tonderai Ndira, Betha Chokururama were found dead,”.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the truth about Dzamara’s disappearance should be revealed so that the perpetrators face their judgment.

The European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe also reminded people that the human rights defender should never be forgotten, calling for his return.

‘Dzamara’s unending abduction worrying’ – Nehanda Radio.

Raid on the offices of LGBTI rights organisation in Zimbabwe

June 11, 2013

On 6 June 2013 five unknown assailants wielding hammers forced entry into the Harare offices of human rights organisation Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). GALZ is an association founded in 1990 that advocates social tolerance for sexual minorities and the repeal of homophobic legislation in Zimbabwe.  On the morning of the raid, the assailants gained entry by disguising one of their group as a mentally challenged person and driving in whilst this member threatened the security personnel at the gate with a hammer. Upon entry, the assailants forced all staff present into the Guard Room and locked them there whilst they ransacked the offices, gathering laptops, mobile phones and bags which contain sensitive information about the work of the organisation and individual members. It is believed that the incident was not a normal robbery, but an attack carried out under orders, as the assailants frequently made contact over the phone with an unknown person called ‘Machacha‘ from an unknown ‘security wing’. In a statement, GALZ said “GALZ is not taking this incident as a random act of attempted robbery but that of deliberate attack by the youth militia, acting on the orders of someone superior.” [President Robert Mugabe has in the past made some extremely homophobic comments] 

Perhaps surprisingly but mercifully, the police arrived swiftly and arrested the assailants, who have now been taken for further questioning at Harare Central Police Station. No members of staff were injured during the raid, and most of the equipment which the assailants had gathered has been returned to GALZ.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

Front Line Defenders welcomes the swift action of the Zimbabwean police, but remains concerned about the motives behind the raid, which are possibly related to the peaceful and legitimate work that GALZ carries out in defence of human rights, particularly LGBTI rights, in Zimbabwe.

“Revolutionaries Are The Real Human Rights Defenders” at least in the view of some in Zimbabwe

April 12, 2013

Via AllAfrica.com I came across a lengthy Opinion piece in the Herald of 11 April 2013 which is basically a rant against human rights in general and human rights defenders in general. Normally I would not want to pay much attention to these outdated views but in all fairness this blog on human rights defenders should also give space to those who are diametrically and fundamentally opposed to human rights.

That the authors write from a nationalistic perspective is clear, not only from the language used and the names mentioned but also from the reference to HRD Beatrice Tele Khalalempi Mnzebele (“a shameless white apologist”) as a foreigner from…. Swaziland. Race is a constant element in the piece by equating ‘western’ and ‘white’. The rest of the terminology is reminiscent of the cold war days (‘neo-liberal prophets of democracy “), cultural relativism (“As Africans, we believe that it is the community that protects and nurtures the individual“) and slogans (“human rights are merely an instrument of Western political neo-colonialism and imperialism“). One of the most striking features is the almost total absence of alternative value systems. The closest the authors come to it is when they state: “It is therefore our argument that the value of human rights should be re-examined by affirming the differences between human beings, in acknowledging that we are all influenced by a myriad of different factors, such as our social, political, and cultural backgrounds. Human rights should be established based on the uniqueness of each and every human being, rather than on myopic neo-liberal assumptions propounded by Beatrice and her Western friends.” It contains a ringing endorsement of the uniqueness of each human being – so dear to the neo liberals – but no much more that could constitute a different overarching system. Not a word about the African Charter, about misled (?) countries such as South Africa or Ghana. Instead the opposition to Mugabe is described as: “thugs and all sorts of assorted MDC-T delinquents”.

But for those who want to read the whole piece here is the link the opinion written by Bowden Mbanje and Darlington Mahuku, who – believe it or not – are lecturers in international relations, and peace and governance with Bindura University of Science Education.

Gaddafi Human Rights Award resurrected: Mugabe rumored to be Laureate

March 31, 2013

The main aim of this blog is to follow events regarding Human Rights Defenders worldwide, but this time I have something of a ‘scoop’: in the process of doing research for an academic article on human rights awards I came across the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, which was thought to be defunct since 2011 with the death of the Libyan leader.

Talking to the North-South foundation in Switzerland, which has administered the 250.000$ award from 1988 to 2010, it turns out that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, from his jail in western Libya, has decided to resurrect as from 1 April 2013 the Prize in honor of his late father under the name: Gaddafi Award for African Governance.

Disappointed with the support received from the Arab world during the uprising in Libya last year, the resurrected award wants to focus on Africa. The rumor is that the first winner – supposed to be announced only tomorrow! – is rather surprisingly President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. When asked whether this would not lead the award to be seen as encouraging ‘bad governance’, the spokesman for the Foundation, T. (Thomas) Yran, refused to comment on Mugabe being the first winner, but said that the new award wanted to clearly distinguish itself from the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership (http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org) which rewards mostly “lackeys of the capitalist system” and anyway has not been given out for 3 years.

http://algaddafi.org/al-gaddafiinternationalprizeforhumanrights/list-of-recipients-of-the-international-prize-for-human-rights

English: The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zimbabwe court orders another human rights defender (Beatrice Mtetwa) to be released

March 26, 2013

Having reported on 9 March 2013 on the case of Mukoko, who was arrested and ‘released’ a few days later (although the case against her remains pending), there is now the case of another well-known woman lawyer who was arrested and released after 8 days: As AP reports from Harare on 25 March:  “Zimbabwe’s High Court on Monday freed on bail a top rights lawyer who had been held for eight days on allegations of obstructing the course of justice…. She told reporters outside the courthouse that her arrest was a ploy to intimidate human rights defenders ahead of elections scheduled around July. “It is a personal attack on all human rights lawyers but I was just made the first example.Beatrice Mtetwa was arrested on March 17 along with four officials from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party. ….Mtetwa was accused of shouting at police officers who were conducting a search at Tsvangirai’s staff offices when she demanded to see a search warrant.Mtetwa and the four officials deny any wrongdoing. High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa ruled early Monday that Mtetwa was following professional legal procedures when she demanded to see a search warrant from police at the offices of the four officials.”She was entitled to be appraised of the legality of the search,” Musakwa said. Critics have cited the arrests as the start of a fresh wave of political intimidation against opponents of President Robert Mugabe by loyalist police and judicial officials ahead of elections.

Last week police ignored an earlier High Court order to free Mtetwa and on Wednesday the lower Harare magistrates court ordered her held in custody to reappear in that court on April 3. Charges of obstructing justice carry a maximum of two years imprisonment. Mtetwa said she was not well-treated while in police custody. She wasnt allowed to take a bath and was denied access to her lawyers and family. But she said she will not give up the fight for human rights. The judge said Mtetwa should not have been denied bail because of her “professional standing.”

Mtetwa is a recipient of awards from international jurists groups including the American Bar Association … state media controlled by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has criticized Judge Charles Hungwe, who issued the first order for Mtetwa’s release. It said his actions pointed to the need for some judges to come under closer scrutiny over their rulings, and accused him of inefficiency and negligence in hearing other cases.  Mugabe’s party claimed Hungwe illegally made the first ruling not in a court but at his private home during the night after her arrest without giving police the right to state their case against freeing her. The Sunday Mail newspaper criticized lawyers who thought themselves “untouchable” and said Mtetwas “stage-managed antics in and outside the courts” earned her “dubious awards” from African and international lawyers groups.

via Zimbabwe court orders rights lawyer to be released – Yahoo! News.