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Detainees as hostages

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A recent comment by Veritas raises an important question about the prolonged detention of Jestina Mukoko and dozens of other political detainees.

There has been talk over the past two weeks that political detainees and civil rights activists will only be released as part of a general amnesty being demanded by ZANU-PF and the security force commanders. This would certainly explain the delays that that have dogged efforts to get them freed. The political detainees whose release is the subject of purported amnesty negotiations were picked up while a national unity government was being negotiated. So far the police have not produced enough evidence to bring them to trial. This raises the question whether they were picked up deliberately to be used as hostages in a subsequent amnesty deal. This would entail a lopsided trade of a few seemingly innocent people picked up specially for the purpose against all those involved in perhaps up to 30 years of State organised or condoned violence.

There needs to be public debate on the subject of a general amnesty and civil society could take the lead in facilitating this process and in making sure it includes victims of State violence and their families. It is hoped that politicians will listen to these voices before making any deals. A general amnesty would not only affect the present detainees, but all people and the families who have been subjected to political violence – murders, torture, beatings, rape, property destroyed, forced evictions, etc. In addition to those who are recorded, there are estimated to be many hundreds over the last thirty years who have never been accounted for and there, are the dead who have never been identified and buried. Read more

Other recent documents that are worth reading on the question of transitional justice include Transitional justice in Zimbabwe: A pilot survey of the views of activists and victims by the Research and Advocacy Unit, and Pondai Bamu’s comment in Pambazuka this week: Transitional justice without transition in Zimbabwe?

Meanwhile, we’ve had a few more replies to our question about Roy Bennett:

  • Roy Bennet should put pressure to have others released. – EM
  • Roy should put pressure and refuse to be released! I really advocate that  he better refuse because if he accepts its like a father who runs away from a hungry lion leaving behind his weak, defenseless son to be feasted instead of fighting the lion together. Remember that even the bible says two are better than one. – HC
  • I think Roy must stick to his guns. For he will never enjoy freedom with the others still detained, if he has a conscience. – CM

One comment to “Detainees as hostages”

  1. Comment by Sophie Zvapera:

    Blanket amnesty is a traversity of justice which alllowa perpetrators of untold human rights violations to go unpunished while sentencing the victims to continued victimhood with no recourse. The victims will remain victims forever and for generations to come as with the case with the Gukurahundi atrocities. As a nation we should never allow this to go on so there is no room for an amnesty and this should be made clear to the two MDCs who should allow for partcipative restorative justice in the pursuit of national healing.