Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Torture in Zimbabwe

Below I post a letter concerning torture in Zimbabwe Letter sent to the Chair, Vice-Chair, Members and Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples, as I received it today and think it is important. All eyes on Iraq, while Zimbabwe burns.

Torture in Zimbabwe

Letter sent to the Chair, Vice-Chair, members and Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Dear Mr. Rezag-Bara, Mrs. Johm and members

We wish to bring to your attention the continuing and deepening human rights abuses being perpetrated in Zimbabwe, most notably the increasing use of torture and associated cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment. As you are well aware, in terms of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights - let alone other regional and international instruments - such practices are prohibited. Furthermore, such practices and the apparent silence of your Commission in condemning the same, make a mockery of the recent adoption by your Commission of The Robben Island Guidelines; the Guidelines and Measures for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment IN AFRICA.

In this regard, we attach hereto statements from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, the Zimbabwe Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, The Zimbabwe Legal Resources Foundation, and ex-Director of Amani Trust in Zimbabwe, concerning the flagrant recent instances of torture, notably on a prominent opposition MP and a young human rights lawyer (Gabriel Shumba),and threats of violence against civil society organisations.

It is indeed ironic and utterly incomprehensible and despicable that such abuses not only occur but do so in a country which has a government official as one of the nine other members of your Commission - namely, Mr Andrew Chigovera of Zimbabwe's Attorney General's Office. An added cruel irony is that another member of your Commission, Dr. Pityana, is actually a member of the academic staff at the University of South Africa in Pretoria - where Mr Shumba was, until a few weeks ago, a post graduate student in human rights!

For the dignity, soul and above all, the people, of Africa we call upon you to condemn such gross human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, to formally request Mr Chigovera to report to the commission on the same or else request that he relinquish his membership forthwith, and to immediately initiate a process to send an investigation mission to Zimbabwe.

Please be assured that we, and thousands of individuals and many organisations throughout Africa and the world, are recording and documenting in detail instances of torture and its perpetrators in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, and stand committed to cooperating with your Commission as you may require, and as requested by your Commission in terms of The Robben Island Guidelines. In this regard we are sure you will concur with us in welcoming the fact that today torturers, and those who abet torture, may hide but cannot run ..... witness Mengistu, Amin, Sharon .... and even when they hide the closing net of universal justice closes...witness Pinochet, Habre ... and international criminal tribunals prosecute .... witness Akayesu, Kambanda, Tadic, Milosevich.

We wish you continued progress in your endeavours.

Yours sincerely

H. Humamondira

Secretary AFRICARights (Association For Renaissance In the Countries of Africa Reborn)

Source

Please find above for your information, a letter sent to the Chair, Vice-Chair, members and Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. For your future purposes, should you so require, the email addresses of the Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary of the Commission are respectively: mkrezagbara@hotmail.com or rezbakam@wissal.gm; fjohm@aviso.ci or jaijohm@hotmail.com; and secretary@achpr.gm or gerbaricako1@hotmail.com. Note this is also sent to selected international organisations and officials, but you are welcome - indeed encouraged - to forward it to whom you may consider appropriate. H. Humamondira (Secretary)

Friday, January 24, 2003

Racism and health

In a recent article in the BMJ, Kwame McKenzie says there is a growing literature showing an association between racism, morbidity and mortality. McKenzie argues that racism may be aetiologically important in the development of illness. See this interesting article at: Address: http://bmj.com:80/cgi/content/full/326/7380/65?maxtoshow=?eaf

Thursday, January 23, 2003

William Gibson Blog

William Gibson, coiner of the term Cyberspace, now has a blog. He says: "In spite of (or perhaps because of) my reputation as a reclusive quasi-Pynchonian luddite shunning the net (or word-processors, depending on what you Google) I hope to be here on a more or less daily basis. "

Blogging and Reality TV

Thanks for that Martin. It occurs to me that blogging is like Reality TV with yourself. Based on your hypotheses Reality TV will probably go the same way - dead, or even bigger, until it is back to watching gladiators in ancient Rome in the comfort of your living room. I digress, today, I am working on a report about policy making for victims of violence in Northern Ireland. Not much of interest to say just yet.

Predictions

This blogging thing is really taking off, isn't it? My two blogging predictions:

1. In five years blogging will be dead (in the sense that the Citizen Band radio is dead).

2. In five years blogging will be a hundred times bigger than now (in the sense that the kinds of collaborative knowledge work that blogs make possible will be pervasive.

That is the word from ye olde wise guru.

Andie posted this in reply to Martin 1/23/03:

Kind of like the Rand, innit, Martine?

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Ancient Art of Haranguing

I should have known it was only a matter of time till you started blogging! You can rely on me to contribute some (a)musings (hopefully!) from time to time, and some theory on this eccentric online sport. See the The Ancient Art of Haranguing Has Moved to the Internet.

Herero to file atrocity claims against Germany

It was reported today in the Mail and Guardian (South Africa) that the Namibian Herero are to file atrocity claims against Germany. A four-billion dollar claim against Germany and two firms for alleged atrocities committed against Namibia's Herero people in colonial times may go to court within two months, The Namibian daily reported on Wednesday. The German government, Deutsche Bank and shipping company Woermann Line (now known as SAFmarine), stand accused of forming a brutal alliance "to commit atrocities and exterminate more than 65,000 Hereros between 1904 and 1907". The full article reads:

Herero to file atrocity claims against Germany

Mail and Guardian Online / SAPA , 22 January 2003 14:23

A four-billion dollar claim against Germany and two firms for alleged atrocities committed against Namibia's Herero people in colonial times may go to court within two months, The Namibian daily reported on Wednesday.

The German government, Deutsche Bank and shipping company Woermann Line (now known as SAFmarine), stand accused of forming a "brutal alliance" to commit atrocities and exterminate more than 65 000 Hereros between 1904 and 1907.

Germany colonised Namibia in 1884 and prime grazing land was given to whites, leading to bloody wars with local tribes. In 1904, German General Lothar von Trotha issued an extermination order, stating that "every Herero, whether found armed or unarmed, with or without cattle, will be shot."

The Herero People's Reparation Corporation is now charging in court that two German companies helped the Berlin government to relentlessly pursue the enslavement and genocidal destruction of Hereros.

Herero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako told The Namibian that the corporation was still awaiting the final dates for the court case. But he added that the two cases could be heard in the United States, where the Herero People's Reparation Corporation is registered, in March or April.

The two cases -- the first against the government and the second against the two companies -- are worth two billion dollars each. The papers before the court stated: "The defendants and imperial Germany formed a German commercial enterprise which cold-bloodedly employed explicitly sanctioned extermination, the destruction of tribal culture and social organisation, concentration camps, forced labour, medical experimentation and the exploitation of women and children in order to advance their common financial interests."

The claims were originally also made against a third German manufacturing company, Terex Corporation, but were withdrawn after Terex claimed it was under different management at the time of the alleged atrocities.

The Herero is a collective term for a group of tribes -– the Himba, Herero, Tijimba and Mbanderu -- and there are more than a 100 000 Herero people living in Namibia, southern Angola and Botswana.

Sapa-AFP

Tuesday, January 21, 2003