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Zimbabwean Activists Seek UN Investigation of Government Abuse


Human Rights Activists from Zimbabwe are seeking support from Latin American countries to raise awareness of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. They are also urging the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold the government of Robert Mugabe accountable for gross violations. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva where the Council is in the midst of a three-week session.

Zimbabwe human rights defender, Tafadzwa Ralph Mugabe, says efforts to condemn Zimbabwe for gross violations of human rights have largely failed, because they have been led by Western countries.

He says countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States are perceived as having imperialist or colonialist designs on Zimbabwe. And, that has caused other countries to close ranks behind the government of President Robert Mugabe and allow it to escape reproof.

He says Zimbabwean activists are trying to discredit this perception by linking up with Latin American nations.

"If we do maybe come to the U.N. Council, to the U.N., with a partnership of countries from Latin America, it is our perception that they do not have imperialist or colonialist aspirations in the region, in Southern Africa and Zimbabwe to be specific," he noted. "Traditionally, the criticism that has been leveled against the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, it is true to say has come from the West, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Nordic countries."

This, says Tafadzwa Ralph Mugabe (who is no relation to the president), has allowed the government to successfully accuse western countries of trying to compromise Zimbabwe's sovereignty.

Zimbabwe repeatedly escaped international condemnation at the former U.N. Human Rights Commission. And, now, again, at the Human Rights Council.

The Council has not appointed a special rapporteur to examine Zimbabwe's human rights record. United Nations investigators have been repeatedly denied access to the country to probe the human rights situation.

Mugabe says no African country has gone out on a limb to criticize Zimbabwe.

"With African countries, what one finds is that there is the tendency of still pursuing, of maybe perhaps deliberately keeping quiet and turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the situation in any other country, but under the guise of Pan Africanism and under the guise of respecting the state sovereignty of a fellow African country," he added.

The Zimbabwean lawyer and human rights defender says the misdeeds of President Robert Mugabe are well known. He says the government's massive eviction of slum dwellers has made nearly 750,000 people homeless. He says Mr. Mugabe's disastrous economic policies have caused inflation to skyrocket.

He says the U.N. Human Rights Council must take action to halt the abusive treatment of millions of Zimbabwe's citizens. He says failure to do so will be seen as a result of ignorance, indifference or complicity.

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