Stop discriminatory targeted removals of Matebele Refugees in the UK

Stop discriminatory targeted removals of Matebele Refugees in the UK

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1893 Mthwakazi Human Rights Restoration Movement 1893 MHRRM started this petition to The UK Home Office

The UK Home Office Country Policy and Information Note on Zimbabwe issued on February 2019 (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/781706/Zimbabwe_-_Pol_Oppn_-_CPIN_-_v4.0__Feb_2019__GOV.UK.pdf) on Refugees from Matebeleland currently in the UK and seeking refugee status is unfair, unjust, inhumane and discriminatory against Matebeleland refugees in the UK.

The Policy and Information Note state the following in its unjust, unfair, inhumane and discriminatory target for removals of Matebeleland refugees from the UK under its Risk Assessment Section:

The Risk Assessment Section:

2.4.2 The Tribunal in CM also found that a person without ZANU-PF connections returning from the United Kingdom after a significant absence, to a rural area of Zimbabwe, other than Matabeleland North or Matabeleland South, may find it difficult to avoid ill-treatment from ZANU-PF authority figures and those they control. Ill-treatment may involve a requirement to demonstrate loyalty to ZANU-PF, with the prospect of serious harm if this is refused. Persons returning to these areas who have shown themselves not to be favourably disposed to ZANU-PF are entitled to international protection, whether or not they could and would do whatever might be necessary to demonstrate such loyalty (RT (Zimbabwe) (para 215 (2)).

2.4.3 However, the Tribunal in CM found that in general those returning to rural areas of Matabeleland North or Matabeleland South would be highly unlikely to face significant ill-treatment from the ZANU-PF and its proxies, including the security forces, even if the returnee is a MDC member or supporter. A person from Matabeleland may, however, be able to show that his or her village or area is one that, unusually, is under the influence of a ZANU-PF chief (para 215 (4)).

2.4.7 Returnees to Bulawayo will in general not suffer the adverse attention of ZANU-PF, including the security forces, even if he or she does have a significant MDC profile (para 215 (6)).

The Case for Matebeleland Refugees in the UK:

Matebeleland and its people have a longstanding history of being a strong opposition to the government of Zimbabwe due to that government’s plethora of crimes against humanity including genocide against the people of this region. Matebeleland, since Zimbabwe got independence from Rhodesia in 1980, has been and remains a bastion and a stronghold of opposition politics in Zimbabwe. The region and its people, since independence, have been steadfast and steeled for years in their opposition to Zanu PF government’s misrule than any other region in Zimbabwe.

In both 1980 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Southern_Rhodesian_general_election ) and 1985 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_Zimbabwean_parliamentary_election) elections, Zanu PF was overwhelmingly rejected in Matebeleland both in rural and urban areas despite use of violence and genocide against the region and its people.

The people of Matebeleland have, as a result of their longstanding opposition to the Zanu PF government, paid a heavy ethnic genocide price since independence. Between 1981 and 1987, the Zanu PF government, under the combined leadership of the late President of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Perence Shiri, the current Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and the current President of Zimbabwe, Emerson Mnangagwa, unleashed a specially North-Korean trained Shona ethnic army called the 5th Brigade of Zimbabwe and its Central Intelligence Organization on the people of Matebelelaland leading to a genocide of gigantic proportions, the first ever genocide committed by a liberator government in Southern Africa, where over 20 000 Matebeles were mass murdered, thousands mass raped and mass beaten and millions displaced to neighbouring countries and abroad.

At the time of this genocide, the current President of Zimbabwe, Emerson Mnangagwa was the Minister in charge of State Security and Perence Shiri, the current Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, was in charge of the Gukurahundi 5th Brigade army. 

Gukurahundi is a Shona term that means the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains. In this instance the people of Matebeleland were dehumanized and equalled to the chaff before the spring rains that needed to be washed away.

The 5th Brigade of Zimbabwe and its perpetrator partner, the Central Intelligence Organization, as already mentioned above, went on to commit a genocide against the ethnic people of Matebeleland between 1981 and 1987. In this Genocide, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Report, conducted under a climate of fear and terror from the Zimbabwean government, made an estimate conservative figure of over 20 000 of ethnic Matebeles that were killed during the operation (http://www.rhodesia.nl/Matabeleland%20Report.pdf) The real accurate figures are yet to be established post the collapse of the regime of Zimbabwe. The casualties of this genocide are estimated to be higher than this conservative figure given by the CCJP Report.

The methods used for the mass ethnic slaughter of the Matebele involved mass shootings and mass burning of victims inside grass thatched houses after mass beatings, mass rapes and mass starvation. The regime ensured that there was a food embargo in Matebeleland from 1981 to 1987 to trigger mass starvation of Matebeleland people. Many children died of malnutrition diseases during this time. Many women were raped and used as sex slaves by the 5th Brigade of Zimbabwe. Matebeleland has a higher rate of children born out of this serious crime against humanity than any other region in Zimbabwe.

Essentially Matebeleland region has not recovered from this genocide and most of its surviving victims remain fearful of the regime and have always registered their strong opposition to the regime at the ballot box, making them continuous and longstanding targets of the regime in terms of human rights violations and discrimination since 1980.

When the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party came into politics in the late 1990s, it quickly enjoyed massive support from the region, both in rural and urban areas respectively like its predecessor Zapu. It is an established historical and current fact that people of this region are anti-Zanu PF government and the Zanu PF government is acutely aware of this fact and has always sought to punish them for this. Matebeleland remains a strong hold of opposition politics in Zimbabwe up to this day as stated by Alexander and McGregor below:

(https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jocelyn_Alexander2/publication/230149441_Elections_Land_and_the_Politics_of_Opposition_in_Matabeleland/links/5c3e3a20299bf12be3cb2d32/Elections-Land-and-the-Politics-of-Opposition-in)

The election results overall showed a victory for ZANU-PF of 62 contested seats against the MDC’s 57 (there are, in addition, 30 appointed seats; one seat was won by ZANU-Ndonga). ZANU-PF lost all the major towns and cities; it lost in Matabeleland and significant parts of Midlands and Manicaland. The press began to call ZANU-PF a ‘Shona peasant party’ – and even many ‘shona peasants’ appear to have been reluctant in their support.63 In some constituencies, the scale of the MDC’s winning margin was remarkable. Previously unknown candidates were swept in with over 80 per cent of the vote.

In Matabeleland as a whole (including Bulawayo), ZANU-PF won only two of 25 seats. In Matabeleland North, the province we are concerned with here, the MDC won all seven seats by margins ranging from 58.7 per cent in Bubi Umguza to 85.9 per cent in Binga. The four constituencies we have been considering in detail had MDC victories of 84 per cent (Hwange West), 77.9 per cent (Hwange East), 77.2 per cent (Lupane) and 64.7 per cent (Nkayi). In all these constituencies, the results were greeted by ZANU-PF leaders with disbelief. As one ZANU-PF district leader and war veteran recalled: ‘After the polling, I went to the bottle store and waved to my friends and patrons. They all gave me the open hand wave. I was so shocked!

The Montlante 2018 Commission acknowledged that, “Zimbabwe is a “bleeding nation” that requires peace…”. This is a significant statement indicating that Zimbabwe is not a peaceful nation. On the day of the Commission in Bulawayo, several victims of the Gukurahundi and opposition activists were arrested and some were beaten for daring to speak out against human rights abuses by the state of Zimbabwe ( https://www.thestandard.co.zw/2018/10/28/activist-arrested-gukurahundi/).

Since Emerson Mnangagwa took power and since the Montlante Commission, post the shooting of the Harare 6 protestors, the human rights violations have increased in that country and Matebeleland has not been spared of these violations. It is therefore inaccurate for the UK Home Office to designate Matebeleland and Bulawayo as safe places to return refugees from Matebeleland to Zimbabwe. The following reports give good information on the continued violations of human rights in Zimbabwe including Matebeleland: (https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2020/02/28/zimbabwe-new-dispensation-hope-human-rights-violence/) and (https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/zimbabwe).

In 2019, the UN condemned the Zimbabwe government for its human rights abuses and arrest and detention of children as contained in these articles: (https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/02/un-condemns-zim-rights-abuses/) and ( https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/africa/un-envoy-calls-on-zimbabwe-to-stop-abuse-of-protesters-1.4032935) This condemnation does not exclude rural and urban Matebeleland or Bulawayo.  

The UK government’s own January 2019 to June 2019 ministerial human rights priority countries statement published on 22nd October 2019,(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/human-rights-priority-countries-autumn-2019-ministerial-statement/human-rights-priority-countries-ministerial-statement-january-to-june-2019) ,states that:

In Zimbabwe, 2019 has seen a sharp increase in reported human rights violations. The majority relate to the heavy-handed security sector response to the January fuel protests, which led to at least 17 deaths, sexual and physical assaults, and over a thousand arrests across Zimbabwe for inciting public violence and other related charges. To date, no one has been held accountable for the deaths of demonstrators. Over 20 opposition and civil society members have been charged with treason since January. In addition, abductions and assaults of opposition figures have continued with impunity. The Government of Zimbabwe has committed to repealing oppressive unconstitutional legislation and to implementing the recommendations of the Motlanthe commission into the violence in August 2018, but we have yet to see any definitive progress.

The above ministerial statement is in line with the USA report on human rights violations in Zimbabwe leading to the extension of sanctions by the USA government as of the 4th March 2020 contained in this article:  ( https://www.zimlive.com/2020/03/04/us-extends-zimbabwe-sanctions-over-accelerated-persecution-of-critics/ ).

The longstanding and historical human rights violations in Matebeleland by the government of Zimbabwe since independence up to the present time do not suggest that Matebeleland and Bulawayo are safe areas to return Matebeleland refugees in the UK who have a longstanding history of opposition to the government of Zimbabwe. On the contrary, those coming from Matebeleland are at a far much greater risk of being harmed by the state of Zimbabwe due to them coming from a region that is historically and currently a stronghold of opposition politics to the government of Zimbabwe and perceived as anti-Zanu PF and anti-Zimbabwean government.

The UK January 2019 to June 2019 ministerial human rights priority countries statement published on 22nd October 2019, as indicated above, clearly state that there has been a “sharp increase in reported human rights violations” in Zimbabwe. The above UK government ministerial statement on human rights violations in Zimbabwe is in sharp contrast to The UK Home Office Country Policy and Information Note on Zimbabwe of February 2019 on immigrants from Matebeleland currently in the UK and seeking refugee status.

There is no doubt that the UK Home Office’s Country Policy and Information Note on Zimbabwe with regards to refugees from Matebeleland in Zimbabwe issued in February 2019 is deeply unfair, unjust, inhumane unethical and thoroughly discriminatory against refugees from Matebeleland who come from Zimbabwe.

Additionally the UK Home Office and UK government, in contrast to the ministerial statement on human rights violations in Zimbabwe, have made an agreement with the Zimbabwe government for Zimbabwean government officials to interview Matebele and Zimbabwean refugees in general here in the UK as evidenced in this article below,(https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/12/i-can-hardly-sleep-the-zimbabweans-facing-deportation-from-uk)

This agreement between the governments exposes the refugees to easy identification and tracing by the Zimbabwean officials for easy victimization when they return back to Zimbabwe. This agreement is unethical and unjust and we demand it be stopped urgently.

It would seem that the UK Home Office is driven by a discriminatory removal target policy of largely people coming from Matebeleland in Zimbabwe and classifying them as not at a risk from the regime whereas evidence, since 1980, demonstrates that they have and continue to be perennial victims of the sectarian state of Zimbabwe.

These refugees have, since the 1980, been at the receiving end of gross human rights violations from the sectarian Zimbabwean regime and state. These gross human rights violations include a genocide that was committed against them in the 80s that saw more than 20 000 law-abiding Matebele being mass murdered and mass displaced to regional countries and to the Diaspora in America and Europe.

The region of Matebeleland in Zimbabwe is still experiencing ongoing cultural, language, educational, healthcare and employment human rights violations, additional to a plethora of human rights violations listed by the UK government ministerial statement on human rights violations in Zimbabwe published in October 2019. Zimbabwe as a state, since 1980, suffers from institutionalized tribalism.

The people of Matebeleland have been and remain at the receiving end of this institutionalized tribalism in Zimbabwe since independence from Rhodesia.

There is no doubt that refugees of Matebeleland that are currently in the UK will face serious harm and human rights violations against them if returned back to Zimbabwe by the UK Home Office against the factual statement about human rights violations given by the UK Government in its Ministerial human rights violations statement in Zimbabwe published in October 2019: (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/human-rights-priority-countries-autumn-2019-ministerial-statement/human-rights-priority-countries-ministerial-statement-january-to-june-2019) .

The 1893 Matebeleland (Mthwakazi) Human Rights Restoration Movement (1893 MHRRM) demands, as a matter of justice, humanity and non-discriminatory policy towards the people from Matebeleland, that this policy be withdrawn urgently by the UK Home Office and an immediate, full and unconditional protection of these refugees be given, as well as  any other refugees facing such discriminatory targeted removal treatment from the UK Home Office.

Kindly sign this petition in solidarity with the UK Matebeleland Refugees targeted for removal, who have suffered a genocide from the state of Zimbabwe and who will face serious harm and all other forms of discrimination if returned to Zimbabwe, a state deeply enmeshed in institutional tribalism against the Matebele.

And you are kindly invited to join the 1893 MHRRM organized Matebeleland UK Refugee Conference on 9th May 2020 at:

The Oak Centre Tree Hall, Bendbow Rise Braunstone, LE3 1QA in Leicester, UK from 13:30 PM to 19:30 PM to move the matter Forward in terms of the submission of the petition to the UK Home Office at a date to be announced!

 

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