Lest We Forget : The 1980s Matabeleland Gukurahundi Massacres in Zimbabwe.
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Breaking The Silence: Let Your Voice Be Heard : The Matabeleland Gukurahundi Massacres
-35 Years On-
In recent weeks since the fall of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, there have been growing voices from the people of Matabeleland and Midlands calling upon the new government headed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to institute a process to deal with the 1980s government sponsored massacres disguised as a fight against the dissident menace. In his inaugural speech President Mnangagwa said- “My government is committed to compensating those farmers from whom land was taken, in terms of our laws of lands”. However, in what seemed contradictory, Mnangagwa said- “We should never remain hostages of our past. Let us humbly appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones readily embracing each other in defining a new destiny for our beloved Zimbabwe”. We assume that Mnangagwa was referring to the Matabeleland and Midlands masaccres when he said "Let Bygones be Bygones",
"Noone is more importatant than the other, we are all Zimbabweas”-Mnangagwa.
To help afford the people of Matabeleland a voice nearly thirty five years since the commission of atrocities we are appealing to you fellow Zimbabweans, fellow Africans and members of the International community at large to add your voice by adding your name to this petition (details below). This petition will be handed over to the Zimbabwean government urging it to institute A Truth and Justice Commission to preside over the events of the early 1980s which saw more than 20 000 Matabeleland and Midlands people of Zimbabwe massacred by the Fifth Brigade Army.
This is largely seen as a litmus test for the new government led by Mnangagwa who is alleged to have played a significant role in the said massacres together with Robert Mugabe and members of the security cluster. Our millions of Voices are the Voices of God which Mnangagwa pledged to heed upon his return to Zimbabwe after the forced resignation of Robert Mugabe.
“Forgiveness, far from precluding the search for truth, actually requires it. The evil which has been done must be acknowledged and as far as possible corrected. It is precisely this requirement which has led to the establishment in various parts of the world of appropriate procedures for ascertaining the truth regarding crimes between ethnic groups or nations, as a first step towards reconciliation.
There is need to insist on the great prudence which all parties must observe in this necessary process, in order not to accentuate contrasts, which would then make reconciliation even more difficult. Not uncommon are cases of countries whose leaders, looking to the fundamental good of consolidating peace, have agreed to grant an amnesty to those who have publicly admitted crimes committed during a period of turmoil. Such an initiative can be regarded favourably as an effort to promote good relations between groups previously opposed to one another.”- (Pope John Paul II for the World Day of Peace, 26th January 1997)
One of the most painful aspects of the 1980s conflict for its victims is their perception that their plight is unacknowledged. Officially, under the Mugabe regime the State blatantly denied any culpability for events during those years, and refused to allow open dialogue on the issue. In effect, there is a significant chunk of Zimbabwean history which is largely unknown, except to those who experienced it first hand.
All Zimbabweans, both present and future, should be allowed access to this history. It is only once all Zimbabweans have acknowledged this part of their history, that it can be put aside. This belief is also that of those who have motivated this project. In fact, it is believed that lasting reconciliation is contingent on truth.
Those who would rather that events of the 1980s should remain shrouded in secrecy have claimed that discussing them will "reopen" old wounds. However, it was clear during the interviewing procedure by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, that, for thousands of people, people still suffer today, physically, psychologically and practically as a result of what they experienced in the 1980s. Far from "reopening" old wounds, the victims' being allowed to speak out and having their stories validated by a non-judgmental audience should begin what is hoped will be a healing process, after more than 35 years of people suffering in fear and isolation.
There is a need for a deeper and more lasting reconciliation in Zimbabwe. This is only possible when the magnitude of the happenings in the affected areas is more widely understood by all those concerned. Only when those who inflicted untold hardship are prepared to acknowledge that they did so, can a lasting reconciliation take place between all who live in Zimbabwe. Only then can bitterness and fear finally be eased. Once the fact that thousands suffered atrocities during those years has been acknowledged, once fear has finally receded, then victims will feel able to speak out about their experiences without dreading retribution. “The Voice of The People is The Voice of God”-President Mnangagwa. Let us all help to break the silence by signing the petition.
For detailed information on the Matabeleland Massacres in Zimbabwe, please refer to the Report by The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe 1997. To sign the Petition, please go to www.change.org and search for "Lest We Forget: The 1980s Matabeleland Gukurahundi Massacres"
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