A human rights group is calling on the international community – led by the United Nations – to take urgent action in Zimbabwe. Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights says it fears the current situation in Zimbabwe could “unravel and cascade into a crisis with unforeseeable consequences.”
Phil ya Nangoloh is executive director of the group. From Windhoek, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why he believes Zimbabwe’s population is at risk.
“We have reason to be concerned because increasingly we are receiving reports from Zimbabwe on the intensification of hostile posturing and other activities that are warlike activities by pro-Mugabe paramilitary groups. And we are also receiving reports at the same time that (President) Robert Mugabe’s regime is cracking down on the press,” he says.
Ya Nangoloh says that the crackdown on the media and civil society may be an attempt to prevent the international community from learning of potential “massive human rights violations.”
Regarding his call for international action, ya Nangoloh says, “There is a new doctrine called “responsibility to protect” that was adopted by the United Nations and is consecrated in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document of that organization… And this doctrine is to prevent imminent and massive violations of human rights and other crises, for example, war crimes, genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The regime out there, which was supposed to have the prime responsibility to protect the population from these excesses, has failed under Robert Mugabe. So, the international community must act urgently in order to ensure that this will not happen. And they must act now before it’s too late.”
As for the type of action that might be available to the international community, the human rights activist says, “I think they can use Chapter 7 of the UN charter coercively to go in, even to send troops on the ground in Zimbabwe to restore law and order.”
He says precedents for such action can be found in the recent AU military moves in the Comoros island of Anjouan and the much earlier use of Tanzanian troops to oust former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Ya Nangoloh also cites the US invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.
“So, along the same lines this doctrine can be put to test to remove Robert Mugabe and thereby prevent what might become a massive human rights violation in that country, which is Zimbabwe,” he says.