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US presses African governments to act on Zimbabwe

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.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07STATE33268, PRESSING AFRICANS TO SUPPORT UN HUMAN RIGHTS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07STATE33268

2007-03-15 20:25

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Secretary of State

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SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2017

TAGS: UNHCR PHUM PREL ZI

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.

 

Background

———-

 

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

legal counsel.

 

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

Zimbabwe urgently.”

 

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.

 

Objectives

———-

 

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

countries.

— Express serious concern about the brutality of the

attacks, noting

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

coordinate.

 

REPORTING DEADLINE

——————

 

9. Embassy should report results of efforts by cable to

DRL/MLGA Julieta Noyes and IO/RHS Doug Rohn by OOB Wednesday,

March 21.

RICE

 

(24 VIEWS)

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