Mpofu Dismisses BBC Doco of Marange Torture Camps

140 95 Rapaport News

RAPAPORT… Zimbabwe’s Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, told French language AFP that a BBC documentary, which interviewed former victims of torture at the Marange, was “nonsense” and a “ridiculous” show of misinformation designed to prevent diamond exports.

BBC Panorama broadcast “Mugabe’s Blood Diamonds” on BBC One, August 8. Program producers interviewed former survivors of a torture camp, allegedly run by Zimbabwe’s security forces in the Marange diamond fields.  Military police were said to use a number of  techniques on captives  such as whipping, beating, sexual assault, mock-drowning, and mauling by dog.

Mpofu questioned the motives behind producing the documentary. “These are the kooks who want to hamper Zimbabwe’s development,” he was quoted saying of the program.

The BBC stated that the main torture camp, known as Diamond Base,  was  a  collection of military tents surrounded with razor wire, where the prisoners were kept. The camp is about one mile from the main Mbada diamond mine in Zengeni. A second camp was located near Muchena.  Witnesses said that police and military recruit civilians to illegally dig for diamonds for them, according to the BBC, and those workers are taken to the camps for punishment if they demand too large a share of the profits.  Zimbabweans caught mining for themselves are also punished in the camps.

Following the program, Nick Westcott, spokesman for the working group on monitoring for the Kimberley Process, told the BBC that  the discovery of torture camps was “not something that has been notified to the Kimberley Process.” The BBC added that an E.U. proposal under consideration for Zimbabwe, would allow  diamond sales from two key mines in Marange, but that international monitoring must also be part of the deal.

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