The Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s in which about 20 000 Zimbabweans were massacred in Matabeleland and the Midlands by government forces remain a sore point in the country’s history, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has said.
The ZANU-PF-led government which has been accused of lacking the political will to address that dark part of the country’s history, is yet to meaningfully address Gukurahundi and compensate its victims.
In a statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims Wednesday, ZLHR called upon the state to take concrete measures designed to reveal the truth concerning gross human rights violations, including Gukurahundi, that have occurred in Zimbabwe.
“ZLHR has collaborated in the past with other like-minded organisations to compel the state actors to release information to establish the truth. In the constitutional case of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Another v The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Another filed as case No. 311 of 1999, the applicants sought a court order for the release of information to establish the truth about Gukurahundi.”
The ZLHR added: “Although the case was dismissed, ZLHR joins all progressive people who continue to call on state actors to release information for the truth to be established and bring the perpetrators of the massacres to account and pay reparations to the families of the victims and survivors.”
The right to the truth and dignity of victims, the ZLHR said requires that the state pays reparations for the state-sanctioned gross violations and apologise.
“Although the Constitution of Zimbabwe established the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), ZLHR remains concerned that many victims and survivors of gross human rights violations have not yet been able to know the truth about what happened to them, their relatives, friends or neighbours,” said the ZLHR.
“Similarly, the state should promptly and thoroughly investigate all documented cases of human rights violations such as disappearances of human rights defenders that have occurred in the past.
Celebrated every year on 24 March, the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims aims to honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice.
The day also seeks to pay tribute to the people like Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero who have devoted their lives to or lost their lives in the struggle to promote and protect the human rights of everyone.