Home » Human Rights » What Is the Human Rights Watch Watching?

Whereas organisations such as the Human Rights Watch (HRW) are expected to conduct their investigations using scientific and systematic methods, it is rather astounding that the neo-Western organisation decided to release a patently rumour and spite-driven report titled “Zimbabwe: 20 000 Relocated to Ruling Party Farm: Flood Victims Face Loss of Food Aid Unless They Grow Sugarcane”.

In the report, the HRW alleges that the Government artificially induced the floods that displaced villagers in the Tokwe-Mukosi basin.

To corroborate its dull allegations, the group quotes an unnamed worker at the Tokwe-Mukosi dam project saying, “what happened is that those in charge at the dam closed the sluice gates in the dam to prevent water from flowing downstream, thereby causing floods upstream in the Tokwe-Mukosi basin.”

Government is accused of conducting the “flood operation” in order to displace the approximately 20 000 villagers in order to “apparently force them into sugarcane farming at a ruling party ethanol plant”. According to the report, the ethanol plant is co-owned by ZANU-PF and businessman, Billy Rautenbach.

The group also claims that Government is denying food aid to the flood victims so as to bulldoze them into some farming plots where they will be coerced to grow sugarcane that will be fed into the ZANU-PFRautenbach ethanol plant.

The report does not take into account that there is no ethanol producing plant at the Naunetsi ranch. It does not take into consideration the land under discussion is not a ZANU PFRautenbach farm but State land as it was long back compulsorily acquired by Government to resettle villagers from the Tokwe-Mukosi basin at the completion of the dam.

The HRW also completely ignores the fact that Government had prior to the floods drawn up a master-plan to resettle the villagers in irrigable plots to enable them to economically benefit from the dam after its completion.

The HRW also deliberately sidelines the fact that the “artificial” floods also affected other parts of the country with places likes Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North experiencing severe floods. It remains an indisputable fact that the floods were not confined to the Tokwe-Mukosi basin only but also ravaged low lying areas as far as Johannesburg in South Africa and Botswana.

So to imagine that the Government of Zimbabwe could have created floods of such a magnitude is taking creativity to schizophrenic heights. In fact, there was no Government conspiracy to use floods to forcibly displace the Tokwe-Mukosi villagers. The floods were a natural occurrence that hit the country due to above normal rains that are probably associated with the devastating climatic shift being experienced globally.

All that mattered to the HRW were not the facts lying bare on the ground but the implausible rumours from a faceless worker at the dam project whom it conjured to knit a conspiracy theory that falsely pins the floods on Government.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that the pan-Western group has cooked up stories about the human rights record in Zimbabwe.

In 2009, the Human Rights Watch issued a 62 page report titled Diamonds in the Rough: Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of Zimbabwe.

It alleged that Government committed serious human rights crimes at the Marange diamond fields. The group accused the military of conducting mass killings of diamond panners leading to the discovery of thousands of mass graves in the Chiadzwa area.

In addition, ZANU-PF was accused of smuggling the gems and tapping the diamond proceeds to build a war chest to fund its electoral campaigns. The HRW report was based on rumours churned out by civil society groups such as the Centre for Research and Development who cooked up stories about human rights abuses at Chiadzwa.

This was all in a failed bid to tarnish the image of the vast diamond deposits in eastern Zimbabwe and necessitate their blacklisting as ‘blood diamonds’, thus denying them certification with the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

It is worth highlighting that the HRW is so fixated with concocting damning reports on Zimbabwe because the country falls into a category of countries adjudged to be enemies of the West after it redistributed its land from the few white farmers to the majority blacks.

As a neo-imperial institution that uses disinformation and misinformation to malign and vilify supposed enemies of the West, it is not surprising that Zimbabwe is its constant target.

However, what is baffling is that while the HRW is vainly trying to cook up far-fetched and implausible conspiracies against Zimbabwe, the world is ridden with blatant cases of human rights abuses that it does not censure.

A recent case in point is Ukraine where on May 2, 2014 some 46 pro-Russian activists were murdered in cold blood by pro-Western ruffians.

While it was clear to the world that the ruffians were responsible, the Human Rights Watch tried to dismiss the allegations as mere “rumours and speculations”.

On May 8, 2014, the HRW urged the Ukrainian government to investigate the matter saying, “it will be crucial for the government to keep the public informed about the progress of the investigation to stem rumours and speculation.”

Ironically, while the HRW was quick to publish rumours in Zimbabwe as fact, it practiced feigned restraint on the Odessa massacre and asked the Ukrainian government to clear the “rumours and speculations”.

While in Zimbabwe it came as the judge and jury, loudly accusing and convicting ZANU-PF of persecuting the flood victims, it fingered no one for the heartless Odessa massacre.

What is clear is that in cases where Westerners or their allies are openly in breach of the human rights statutes, Human Rights Watch becomes evasive and non-committal in its reports.

Surely, where is the Human Rights Watch when innocent people are indiscriminately killed by US drones in Pakistan, Yemen and other far flung places? Where is the HRW when Palestinians are daily denied access to basic health and education facilities under an apartheid policy employed by a known Western ally?

Source : The Herald