in Stories

Amnesty International and its love-hate relationship with Mugabe and Mutasa

Amnesty International seems to be in a quandary over its relationship with Zimbabwe. In the 1970s the human rights organisation adopted Robert Mugabe and Didymus Mutasa, among other combatants, as “prisoners of conscience”.

An Amnesty International group in Sweden adopted Mugabe and demonstrated on his behalf for much of his 11-year detention. But relations soured soon after independence when the organisation spoke out against Mugabe-led human rights abuses in Matabeleland.

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan said after a six-day visit to Zimbabwe in June 2009 that human rights violations continued unabated in Zimbabwe but the main problem was that there was a denial that a problem even existed. She said Zimbabwe was “nowhere near ready to identify or admit what has happened.”

Senior government officials that she met confirmed that “addressing impunity is not a priority for the government right now.”

During her visit Khan met with Vice President Joice Mujuru, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister of State in the President’s Office Didymus Mutasa, and Home Affairs co-Minister Kembo Mohadi.

She also met MDC officials including Education Minister David Coltart, Deputy Minister of Justice Jessie Majome, Home Affairs co-Minister Giles Mutsekwa, Minister of State Sekai Holland, and Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE510, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SECRETARY GENERAL SLAMS ZIMBABWE

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE510

2009-06-23 11:16

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6627

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0510/01 1741116

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 231116Z JUN 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4642

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2326

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2906

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3025

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1457

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2288

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2655

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3073

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5516

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2201

RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000510

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR M. GAVIN

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM ASEC KDEM PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SECRETARY GENERAL SLAMS ZIMBABWE

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (SBU) Amnesty International (AI) Secretary General Irene Khan

wrapped up a six-day visit to Zimbabwe on June 18 with a press

conference where she expressed her dismay at “persistent” human

rights violations in Zimbabwe. During a diplomatic briefing on June

16 that included numerous African diplomats, she called on all

members of the international community to use their influence to

encourage the Zimbabwean government to enact further security sector

reforms and address issues of impunity. AI has a unique

relationship with Zimbabwe, having defended President Mugabe and

other senior ZANU-PF officials as “prisoners of conscience” during

the liberation struggle in the 1970s. Because of this longstanding

relationship, Khan secured meetings with a number of senior ZANU-PF

officials during her visit. Khan plans to issue a report on her

visit and may seek meetings with diplomatic missions at the United

Nations (UN) in New York to share her findings and identify new

tactics to encourage improvements in the human rights situation in

Zimbabwe. END SUMMARY.

 

—————————————

AI’s 40-year Relationship with Zimbabwe

—————————————

 

2. (U) The visit by Khan marked the first-ever trip to Zimbabwe by

an AI Secretary General. In a diplomatic briefing at the Dutch

embassy on June 16 and a press briefing on June 18 at a local hotel,

she recounted her visit, which included appointments with a number

of high-ranking ZANU-PF officials. (NOTE: In the 1970s, AI adopted

then-political prisoners Robert Mugabe and Didymus Mutasa, among

other combatants who are now ZANU-PF officials, as “prisoners of

conscience” while they were held in Rhodesian prisons. Notably, an

AI group in Sweden adopted Mugabe and demonstrated on his behalf for

much of his 11-year detention. AI’s relationship with Zimbabwe

began to sour in the mid-1980s when AI spoke out against Mugabe-led

human rights abuses in Matabeleland. END NOTE.)

 

3. (U) During her visit to Zimbabwe, Khan met with ZANU-PF officials

Vice President Joice Mujuru, Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa,

Minister of State in the President’s Office Didymus Mutasa, and Home

Affairs co-Minister Kembo Mohadi. She requested a meeting with

President Mugabe, but never received an answer. She also met MDC

officials including Education Minister David Coltart, Deputy

Minister of Justice Jessie Majome, Home Affairs co-Minister Giles

Mutsekwa, Minister of State Sekai Holland, and Speaker of the House

of Assembly Lovemore Moyo. She will meet with Prime Minister Morgan

Tsvangirai in London the week of June 22.

 

—————————————–

Khan: Human Rights Situation “Precarious”

—————————————–

Q—————————————–

 

4. (U) In a statement issued on June 18, AI condemned “persistent

and serious human rights violations” and the “lack of clear

commitment” in the government to improve human rights in Zimbabwe.

Specifically, Khan noted the continued intimidation and arrest of

human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers, the continued

prosecution of numerous MPs, the stifled media environment, the

inability to protest peacefully, farm invasions, and the education

crisis.

 

5. (SBU) During the diplomatic briefing, Khan said that when she

pushed government officials on the subject of impunity, she received

 

HARARE 00000510 002 OF 002

 

 

only vague answers. She further explained that before perpetrators

can be rehabilitated, there must be an end to the denial that a

problem even exists. Khan said that Zimbabwe is “nowhere near ready

to identify or admit what has happened.”

 

6. (U) In the press conference wrapping up her visit, Khan bemoaned

the lack of urgency in improving human rights and the failure to

introduce security reforms. She also noted that senior government

officials she met confirmed that “addressing impunity is not a

priority for the government right now.” Khan’s press statement

revealed her frustration with the government’s lackadaisical

attitude, “whenever we raised the issue of human rights change, the

government answered that it needed more resources… Ending attacks

on human rights defenders, lifting restrictions on the media, and

allowing public protests do not require money – they only require

political will.”

 

7. (U) The local press has blasted Khan’s critical assessment,

calling it one-sided, damning, and hurriedly compiled. On June 19

Vice President Joice Mujuru brushed aside AI’s call for addressing

impunity and told the press “the people of Zimbabwe have got over

their differences and have no time to waste fighting each other as

they are too busy rebuilding their country.”

 

—————————-

AI Wants More UN Involvement

—————————-

 

8. (SBU) In the June 16 diplomatic briefing, Khan told African and

Western diplomats that she will likely present her findings to

diplomatic missions at the United Nations in New York in the coming

weeks. The German and Canadian ambassadors welcomed her proposal

and suggested that AI recommend sending a UN political observer team

to help the inclusive government improve its performance.

 

9. (SBU The AI online report published June 18 calls on the

Zimbabwean government to invite the UN High Commissioner for Human

Rights to establish a presence in Zimbabwe to support human rights

reform and monitor progress. The report also calls on the

international community, “both African governments as well as

western ones,” to develop a common human rights strategy in

Zimbabwe.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (SBU) We welcome Khan’s visit and are pleased that she and her

team were able to freely travel around Zimbabwe. We believe that

AI’s critical assessment of conditions on the ground is accurate and

well-timed. Khan is right to point out that while responsibility

for the vast majority of the human rights violations rests with

ZANU-PF, some in the MDC are too eager to ignore these past wrongs

for “political expediency.” VP Mujuru’s kneejerk defensive remarks

in the press are regrettable, but to be expected as Zimbabwe’s human

rights record is condemned yet again in the international press.

Qrights record is condemned yet again in the international press.

END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

(9 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment