The Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has urged government to call police to order by directing them to stop barring local civic society organisations from holding Gukurahundi memorials.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
MIHR secretary-general Benedict Sibasa said this will be necessary in the spirit of promoting national healing and reconciliation on the emotive issue of the 1980s mass killings in Matabeleland.
Last month police in Kezi, Matabeleland South, barred Ibhetshu LikaZulu pressure group from holding a memorial service at a disused mine in Bhalagwe, where victims of the Gukurahundi mass killings were buried.
“To address the Gukurahundi genocide issue, MIHR calls for the government of Zimbabwe to open space for civil society organisations in Matabeleland to freely programme on the Gukurahundi issue without any hindrance or police blockages,” Sibasa said.
“Instruct the Zimbabwe Republic Police in Matabeleland and Midlands to forthwith refrain from stopping/blocking Gukurahundi commemorations being conducted by civic society and pressure groups such as Ibhetshu LikaZulu.”
Gukurahundi massacres remain a contentious issue, with opposition parties and Matabeleland-based civic groups calling for restorative justice or a peace and reconciliation exercise to put the matter to rest.
According to the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice (CCJP), close to 20 000 civilians were killed during the 1983-87 Gukurahundi massacres after former President Robert Mugabe unleashed the North Korea-trained 5 Brigade on Matabeleland to quell a perceived former PF-Zapu rebellion.
Mugabe described the massacres as a moment of madness, but offered no apology.
“MIHR calls for the government of Zimbabwe to provide adequate fiscal resources for the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission to execute its mandate without Executive bias and infringement.
“The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission recently urged government to address the Gukurahundi disturbances to “ensure closure on the part of the affected families, while at the same time ensuring that Zimbabweans are able to move forward together in the spirit of forgiveness and oneness”.