BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
HUMAN rights groups have urged family members of surviving Gukurahundi victims to document their stories in the spirit of ensuring the right to truth in the context of grave violations and breaches of humanitarian law.
The human rights’ group made the call as Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims last week.
The annual observance of the day was chosen in memory of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who was murdered on March 24, 1980 in El Salvador.
Romero was actively engaged in denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable individuals in El Salvador.
The annual commemorations, however, emphasise the need to ensure relatives of victims of enforced disappearances, torture, murder and summary executions enjoy the right to the truth of what happened to their loved ones.
In Zimbabwe, the government has kept a tight lid on Gukurahundi, which remains a dark chapter in the country’s history.
Findings into the mass killings by the Chihambakwe commission of inquiry have never been made public.
Khumbulani Maphosa, the executive director of the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR)said it was disheartening that the government was buying time with the hope that surviving Gukurahundi victims lose memory owing to old age or die through natural deaths.
“As MIHR,we are concerned that many older persons are dying without finding truth and closure; some are beginning to lose memory without getting the opportunity to tell their stories; and some are still suffering at their old age from the trauma and experiences of the time,” Maphosa said.
“All these factors strip elderly people of the right to human dignity as espoused in Section 51 of the constitution and international law.
“We, therefore, urge young people and families to assist the elderly to document their stories using new media technologies such as blogs, podcasts and vlogs.”
There have been calls for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to ensure the release of the Chihambakwe report in the spirit of promoting national healing as a sign of commitment to finding redress to the emotive issue.
Mbuso Fuzwayo, the coordinator of Ibhetshu Likazulu, a pressure group that is vocal on finding redress to Gukurahundi said: “Survivors of this genocide still search for truth; the window dressing by the perpetrator is a sign that they are not remorseful and are not willing to solve Gukurahundi.
“We maintain that truth telling is the foundation of the healing process, without it any exercise is futile.”
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) weighed in saying Gukurahundi remains a sore point for the country three decades on without any restorative justice.
“The Gukurahundi massacres remain a sore point in the history of Zimbabwe and it is worrying that the state has not yet conducted thorough investigations into these gross human rights violations that qualify as genocide under international law,” said the ZLHR.