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14 June 2007
Dutch-based ZimbabweWatch makes a strong statement with ‘Living museum’
Successful protest against violations of human rights in Zimbabwe

The Hague, June 13th – Twenty people stand on twenty white pedestals on the lawn opposite the World Forum Convention Centre in The Hague. They form a ‘Living Museum’ in solidarity with the millions of Zimbabweans whose human rights are violated on a daily basis. A majority of people in Zimbabwe are currently suffering under the violent policies of President Robert Mugabe and his government.

The demonstration, organised by the Dutch-based NGO ZimbabweWatch, draws specific attention to Zimbabwean Minister of Environment and Tourism, Mr. Francis Nhema, who is attending the 14th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in The Hague. The Minister is to talk about issues concerning endangered wild animal species. His attendance is exceptional because the EU has imposed a travel ban on him, like it did on all prominent members of the predatory ruling elite in Zimbabwe.

The ‘Living Museum for Zimbabwe’ in The Hague is a peaceful protest drawing attention to all endangered human species in Zimbabwe, like journalists, trade unionists, lawyers and human rights defenders. Picture: Merel Maissan.

Endangered Human Species

This visit does not violate aforementioned EU-sanctions. However ZimbabweWatch co-ordinator Pascal Richard calls Mr. Nhema’s presence ‘An outrage’. Richard comments: ‘How can Nhema talk of protecting elephants and rhino’s when he fails to protect or even acknowledge the basic rights of his fellow human beings? Endangered species in present-day Zimbabwe are judicious journalists, trade unionists, members of the opposition, human rights activists, student leaders, lawyers and clergymen, to name but a few.’

Keen interest

The ‘Living Museum’ can count on the keen interest of almost all visitors of the conference, including several members of the Zimbabwean delegation. The latter come outside during their lunch break to look at the demonstration since they are, as they claim, ‘constantly bullied inside the conference building’ anyway. In turn, they start bullying the activists of ZimbabweWatch. ‘These are all lies,’ howls Dr. Mtsambiwa, Director-General of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. He continues: ‘There is nothing wrong in Zimbabwe. You hate us because we took land from the white farmers. Land distribution was very necessary.
The New Zealand Minister of Conservation, Mr. Chris Carter, congratulates ZimbabweWatch with their ‘Very nice and peaceful protest.’ Picture: Merel Maissan
You are just being racist. Why do you not protest against President George Bush?’
However, another member of the delegation confesses that he feels that people in the rural areas of Zimbabwe should receive better education in order for any election to be fair.

Support from New Zealand

Mr. Francis Nhema does not come outside to meet with ZimbabweWatch. When asked, one member of the Zimbabwean delegation declares that [i‘Mr. Nhema is not amused by this rubbish.’ Mr. Chris Carter, the New Zealand Minister of Conservation, personally walks over to shake hands with Pascal Richard of ZimbabweWatch. ‘Well done,’ he says. ‘New Zealand is a strong opponent of Mr. Mugabe and his Cabinet. I will take your flyer inside and put it on the seat of Mr. Nhema before the meeting.’

Voor meer informatie en interviews:
Pascal Richard, coördinator ZimbabweWatch
06 289 13 181, pascal.richard@niza.nl
Annemieke van Twuijver, persvoorlichtster ZimbabweWatch
06 467 27 839, annemieke.van.twuijver@niza.nl


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