09 December is commemorated every year as the United Nations International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime and as we commemorate the 2017 Genocide Day, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) joins the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) in calling the Government of Zimbabwe (led by Emerson Mnangagwa) to speedily ensure that the Gukurahundi Genocide issue is addressed in the country.
To address the Gukurahundi genocide issue, MIHR calls for the government of Zimbabwe to:
- Provide adequate fiscal resources for the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to execute its mandate without executive bias and infringement;
- Fully operationalize the NPRC by appointing a substantive Chairperson and facilitating resources for the Commission to employ the secretariat;
- Open space for civil society organizations in Matabeleland to freely programme on the Gukurahundi issue without any hindrance or police blockages;
- Instruct the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) in Matabeleland and Midlands to forthwithly refrain from stopping/blocvking Gukurahundi Commemorations being conducted by civic society and pressure groups such as Ibhetshu LikaZulu;
As we commemorate the 2017 International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime we, MIHR, reiterates the ZHRC call that: “Whilst acknowledging that building peace and reconciliation falls within the mandate of our sister commission, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), the ZHRC encourages the New Government to address the issue of the Gukurahundi disturbances that took place in the Matabeleland Region and parts of the Midlands Province in the early to mid- 1980s. Addressing this issue of national concern will help in ensuring closure on the part of the affected families, whilst at the same time ensuring that Zimbabweans are able to move forward together in the spirit of forgiveness and oneness.” (Issued on 1 December 2017 by the ZHRC).
We further reiterate the statement by the United Nations Secretary General Mr António Guterres in his 2017 statement where he said “As we commemorate the dignity of the victims of genocide, we should also commit to ensuring that affected communities are able to tell their stories, create a historical record of what happened.”
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights also takes the opportunity to recognize the sterling efforts of the local and international media for having unbiasedly reported on the Gukurahundi issue in the past 30 – 40 days.
Background to Genocide Day
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. The 9th of December is the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”). The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of the Genocide Convention and its role in combating and preventing the crime of genocide, as defined in the Convention, and to commemorate and honour its victims. In adopting the resolution, without a vote, the 193-member Assembly reiterated the responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, which entails the prevention of such a crime, including incitement to it.
MIHR General Secretary