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Human Rights Watch Charges Massive Violations in Zimbabwe Diamond Zone


Alleging massive human rights violations in Zimbabwe's Marange diamond field, Human Rights Watch on Friday called on the unity government in Harare to remove the army from the area and prosecute those whom it alleges have committed murder and other rights abuses.

The report accused President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of profiting from the alleged abuses taking place in the diamond fields of the eastern district.

Human Rights Watch Africa Director Georgette Gagnon said security forces have turned a peaceful area into a "nightmare of lawlessness and horrific violence."

Johannesburg Crrespondent Benedict Nhlapho of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported on the Human Rights Watch allegations that the Zimbabwean police and army have forced childen and adults to mine diamonds and tortured local villagers to control access.

Human Rights Watch says the army killed more than 200 people during the 2008 takeover of the Marange fields aimed at stopping illegal mining. It says soldiers forced miners to dig mass graves for many of the dead.

The report criticizes the power-sharing government of Mr. Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for seeking international aid even as it allegedly has been stealing diamond profits from government coffers.

The group is calling on the new coalition government to stop the human rights abuses and to ensure that all diamonds are properly documented and legally traded.

Human Rights Watch said it conducted more than 100 interviews with villagers, police officers, soldiers, and victims as well as others to compile the 62-page report.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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