The United States issued a directive to its embassies to lobby governments to condemn the brutal police attack on the opposition in Zimbabwe which had left one activist dead.
It also requested the embassies to deploy a robust public diplomacy strategy, to encourage local media to run pieces on the situation in Zimbabwe and the Human Rights Council’s role in addressing it but without associating these pieces with the US efforts.
In Pretoria, Washington said the ambassador should approach deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad personal–ly on this issue.
Viewing cable 07STATE33268, PRESSING AFRICANS TO SUPPORT UN HUMAN RIGHTS
DE RUEHC #3268 0742035
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O 152025Z MAR 07
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C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 033268
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2017
SUBJECT: PRESSING AFRICANS TO SUPPORT UN HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL ACTION ON ZIMBABWE
REF: GENEVA 633 (NOTAL)
Classified By: DRL DAS Erica Barks-Ruggles. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
¶1. (U) Summary: The United States believes the UN Human
Rights Council (HRC) should respond to the extremely brutal
attacks — which resulted in at least one death — by
Zimbabwean authorities against opposition members during and
after a peaceful prayer meeting on March 11. Posts are
instructed to demarche host governments at an appropriately
senior level, and President Konare as African Union President
or his senior staff, in support of a response to these abuses
by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). In addition, posts are
requested to deploy as soon as possible a robust public
diplomacy strategy, to encourage local media to run pieces on
the situation in Zimbabwe and the Human Rights Council’s role
in addressing it (but without associating these pieces with
the U.S. efforts). For Pretoria Only: Ambassador should
approach Aziz Pahad personally on this issue. End Summary.
¶2. (U) Democratic opponents of the Mugabe regime gathered
peacefully in a Harare suburb for a prayer meeting on March
11, and were brutally attacked by government security forces.
At least one person was killed, and others – including
children – were wounded. Over a hundred people were
arrested. Among others, Morgan Tsvangirai – a leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change – was severely beaten after
being detained. The full extent of Tsvangirai’s injuries has
not been confirmed, but he suffered serious injuries,
including a skull fracture, for which he is now being treated
in intensive care. Many of those who were arrested and
assaulted by the police on March 11 remain in the hospital.
The High Court ordered medical attention for those who had
been beaten while in custody of Zimbabwe’s authorities only
after the High Court ordered they be brought before the court
on March 13.
¶3. (U) The funeral for the slain opposition activist Gift
Tandare will be held on Monday, March 19. Morgan Tsvangirai
said he intends to participate in the event if he is
physically able to do so. The U.S. has called on the
Government of Zimbabwe to exercise restraint at the funeral
and to respect the democratic rights of the people of
Zimbabwe to assemble and express their views peacefully.
¶4. (U) The United States has strongly condemned the
disgraceful abuse and mistreatment the detainees received at
the hands of the police and has called on the Government of
Zimbabwe to investigate and prosecute those responsible for
this outrage. Secretary-General Ban, UK Foreign Secretary
Beckett, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Arbour, EU
officials and others have joined in this international call
for the respect of human rights in Zimbabwe. U.S. officials
continue to monitor the situation carefully and will work to
insist that the victims receive proper medical treatment and
¶5. (U) The USG believes strongly that the Human Rights
Council (HRC), the UN’s premier human rights body, has a
responsibility to act when confronted by egregious human
rights violations, notably as gross violations are emerging.
The Council is currently in session in Geneva, which
facilitates its taking action on Zimbabwe now. Individual
HRC members (e.g., the UK, Canada, South Africa, Australia)
have issued individual statements on the situation in
Zimbabwe already, but a response from the HRC as a whole is
warranted. British Foreign Secretary Beckett, in particular,
has also called on the HRC to “look into the situation in
¶6. (C) There are several alternatives for HRC action on
Zimbabwe. These include: a statement by the President of the
Council (which would require the consensus of all 47
members), a Special Session (which would require 16 sponsors
on the HRC), and a resolution (a majority of 24 needed to
pass). The U.S. and UK Delegations in Geneva have
coordinated closely and believe that a resolution is the best
option for action, since the unanimity required for a
Presidential Statement would likely water it down beyond use.
However, posts should not/not share with host government at
this time the ultimate objective of a resolution by the HRC
on Zimbabwe. (This is particularly important given that our
mission in Geneva is also working to build support among
sub-Saharan HRC African members for a nearly concurrent
resolution on Sudan, opposed by the Africa Group’s Arab
members.) To achieve a resolution, given the history of
African solidarity to oppose UN resolutions on Zimbabwe, we
will seek to build support over the co
ming few days with key partners and particularly with the
Africans. Once we have laid the groundwork with demarches,
outreach in Geneva, and strategic calls from Washington as
needed, the UK – working with our delegation — plans to
unveil a draft resolution in Geneva on/about March 22 (as the
tabling deadline for draft resolutions is March 23).
¶7. (U) (Note: The United States chose not to run for
membership on the Human Rights Council in its initial year,
2006-7, due to concerns that the body and its membership
would not represent enough of an improvement over the deeply
discredited body it replaced, the Commission on Human Rights.
The HRC’s record in its first year has been a major
disappointment, with the body issuing eight resolutions
condemning Israel, taking only weak action on Sudan, and
addressing no other country-specific issues. For these
reasons, the U.S. recently announced we will not run for
membership in the HRC’s second year, 2007-8, either, but has
committed publicly to remaining as an active observer there.
End Note) End Background.
¶8. (U) Posts are requested to contact UK embassy and
coordinate on these demarches, delivering them jointly where
appropriate and helpful. Posts should:
— Raise the seriousness of the security situation in
Zimbabwe, emphasizing that further instability or violence in
Zimbabwe has the potential to spill over to neighboring
— Express serious concern about the brutality of the
that we are not seeking to politicize the situation, but that
threats, physical beatings and arbitrary detention of
citizens engaging in peaceful activities must stop.
— Urge host governments, in their national capacity, to
condemn the barbaric events in Zimbabwe.
— Indicate that the Human Rights Council was created
specifically to address urgent situations such as this, and
that it has a responsibility to address such atrocities.
— Note that that a failure by the HRC to address this urgent
and pressing human rights matter would raise further doubts
about the body’s credibility, particularly when viewed with
its deeply disappointing record to date. The Council must
take action on Zimbabwe – both to protect the rights of the
people of Zimbabwe and to protect its own future.
— (For all action addressees except Kenya and Mozambique,
which are not HRC members) Ask host government to send
instructions to their missions in Geneva to support some sort
of HRC action — preferably by consensus — to address this
situation during the current HRC session (which runs through
March 30). Missions should also be instructed to be in close
contact with the U.S. and UK delegations in Geneva to
¶9. Embassy should report results of efforts by cable to
DRL/MLGA Julieta Noyes and IO/RHS Doug Rohn by OOB Wednesday,