Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Political cleansing in Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe has come under renewed international criticism following a disturbing report by Amnesty International. Amnesty obtained satellite images that recorded the regime's destruction of a housing settlement. The images documented the destruction wrought at an area called Porta Farm, just outside the capital Harare, which had been home to some 20,000 people and contained schools, a children's center and a mosque.

Amnesty says that the images - taken last month - show the horrifying transition of an area from a vibrant community to rubble and shrubs in the space of less than a year.

"These satellite images are irrefutable evidence... that the Zimbabwean government has obliterated entire communities, completely erased them from the map, as if they never existed," Amnesty's Africa Programme director Kolawole Olaniyan said.

Most of the former residents now live as internally displaced people since the regime didn't make any provisions to help them after the demolitions. This isn't surprising since late last year, Mugabe rejected a UN offer of help dealing with the homeless he created.

While such forced evictions and demolitions are disgusting in their own right, it's even more sickening when you consider that the fact that the cleared land has not been subsequently used for any purpose.

Of course, Mugabe swears up and down that the objective of the demolitions was to clean up the country, not to punish perceived opposition strongholds.

Then again, this is a megalomaniac who blames Tony Blair and George W. Bush for everything INCLUDING the bad weather, who manipulates food aid to punish political opponents and blames a western conspiracy against him for the problems inflicted by his cabal's own competence and corruption (despite the fact that even an arm of the normally docile African Union condemned his human rights record). So if I don't believe him, perhaps that makes me... sane.

(The Amnesty images are available here.)

If 20,000 people were made homeless in this single township that Amnesty was able to find evidence for, home many tens (hundreds?) of thousands of others have been displaced by the regime's malice that we don't know about?


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