Democracy is a right and it is though democracy that citizens feel they belong to a state. In the absence of democracy, citizens suffer the brunt of the absence of rule and law consequently the state can expose citizens to human rights violations. Such was the drive in Nyamaropa when hundreds of people gathered to commemorate the International Day in support of Victims of torture, organized by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Non Governmental Forum on the 26th of June, 2018.
The day is significant the world over as it takes victims and activists back in sad memory of the bitter experiences they have gone through, and serves as a reminder to perpetrators that evil deeds like torture are human rights abuses and as such they should be treated with the highest contempt. Speaker after speaker, narrated harsh ordeals of how they fell victim, with activist and former news-reader Jestina Mukoko leading from the front, narrating how her family almost lost hope on her when she was captured by six men, and one woman who kept her under unconstitutional captivity.
Said Mukoko, “ Mine is a sad tale for democracy. I was captured while wearing my night dress early in the morning. I was under captivity for days without formal police prosecution. Ndakarohwa pasi petsoka and the experience was bitter. “
She narrated her horrific experience, saying that perpetrators of torture will live with guilt until their deathbed.
Agness Chirochimwe of Buhera narrated how in the run up to the 2013 election, their homestead was torched and was left with nowhere to go. She said, “Our homestead was gutted by fire while my husband was away in a campaign team elsewhere. I was left stranded with my children and to add insult to injury, l was raped on the way to a base where we had been directed to go. This was a very difficult time for me, and l had to seek help from the Counselling Services Unit who helped me to break the news to my husband.”
Victims also narrated how they were tortured in Nyamaropa, but organizer Tafadzwa Christmas of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum said torture is a universal problem and that is the reason why the day is on every country’s calendar. He said this year the event was helpd in Nyamaropa to signify that such issues are not only for the urban folk.
Said Mr Christmas, “ This year we have come to Nyamaropa in Nyanga North, Manicaland Province, sometimes back we were in Chipinge, and we have come here in support of a local trust we work with and as well to show the country that torture and violence not only happen in urban areas but also in such rural areas. I am overwhelmed by the attendance today which has exceeded our target of about 60 people. This shows that the issue at hand is a community concern and the people have also come to support victims,”
Reverend F. Gandi of the Methodist Church led the candle lighting ceremony as the hundreds of people present reiterated their support for the victims of torture. She praised the people for showing political maturity as we heard for the elections by campaigning in peace.