Zimbabwean refugees at Dukwi Camp in Botswana who were set to be returned home from Botswana have petitioned the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees in Geneva asking not to be repatriated back to Zimbabwe because they will face persecution and torture.
The United Nations agency in Botswana had told the refugees to register for voluntary repatriation because they said they had done their due diligence and discovered it was now safe for the refugees to come back to Zimbabwe.
Their petition to the UNHCR noted Zimbabwe’s cases of human rights abuse and selective application of the law and how some refugees were arrested upon arrival in ZImbabwe and asked Geneva to consider that:
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PETITION TO THE UNIfED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: GENEVA
We (as ZPPM) are a Zimbabwean social movement whose aim is to fight for the rights of Zimbabweans. So many Zimbabweans from all walks of life are members of ZPPM and so we represent them where we feel they are not being fairly treated. We are a peace-loving grouping. We are writing to appeal to your office about citizens of Zimbabwe who are at Dukwi Refugee Camp in Botswana who is facing imminent deportation in the name of repatriation to Zimbabwe where their lives are truly in danger. This is against their wishes but they are having challenges as to what to do and whom to tum to. Without apportioning any blame on anyone, we are of the opinion that a case these Refugees need to be reconsidered.
We are really surprised to know that despite the fact that these people are regarded as true enemies of the Zanu PF-led government in Zimbabwe, but UNH. together with Botswana are laughing the teeth to be deported to Zimbabwe where most of them if not all will definitely face unspecified circumstances upon arrival. Mr. Secret, General, WP address you at the instance on behalf of the about 300 Zirnbabwean refugees on Botswana soil but who face imminent deportation in the name of repatriation, to intervene by whatever means so that they may not be sent to the gallows. They have suffered for far too long considering that most of them were once or more than once imprisoned in Botswana for merely seeking asylum in that country. After imprisonment, they were thrown Into Dukwi Refugee Camp where they are not allowed to work for themselves. These people are suffering and are disillusioned, they deserve much better treatment than at hand now.
We engage you at this moment so that you may save these innocent lives, They have not had any life for the past almost 16 years and are now facing worse challenges than before. It appears like UNHCR Botswana and Botswana Government have closed all avenues of helping these poor souls and the only remaining gap is for the people to return to Zimbabwe.
I his is truly a matter of public interest in that so many Zimbabweans and the world at large know that returning these people to the Zimbabwe government is like sending them to hell. The present Zimbabwe government under Emerson Mnangagwa is worse than that of predecessor the Zanu government under the now late dictator Robert Mugabe. We really, wonder where UNHCR Botswana gets its information if they do not see that sending these refugees to Zimbabwe is a mere violation of the Geneva Convention of 19S1. We are aware that in deciding refugee status each case is looked at on its own merit. However, this case is unique in that these refugees comprise of former army personnel who deserted the Zimbabwean Army who on return will be Court Marshalled. They deserted because they did not want to carry out illegal orders of beating up, torturing, and sometimes even shooting innocent civilians. They refused such orders and so fled for their lives after they had been put on the wanted list by the human rights violators. They are now facing punishment for refusing to further the interests of dictators.
We hear that UNHCR Botswana. Is claiming that it is now safe for the refugees to return to Zimbabwe and yet even the US, EU, Unit. Kingdom Government renewed sanctions on the so-called New Dispensation. The maintenance of travel restrictions on this Zimbabwe Government means acknowledging that this regime is no different from the former Robert Mugabe .d regime. There are so many reports of disappearances, torture, killings. etc gpng on ever since Emmerson Mnangagwa took over Office in 2017. It has even become worse. There are so many cases of disappearances and arrests of those who would have voluntarily returned to Zimbabwe. A few very recent political cases include that of Solomon Chikohwero who was arrested on 27 December 2020 upon return from Exile in South Africa where he had been since 2002. He is currently being treated as a very high-security risk prisoner at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. On 21 May 2019, one Tatenda Mukomberanwa was arrested upon arrival at Harare International Airport. The Telegraph reported of Zimbabwean opposition activists who were abducted and tortured on 14 August 2014 a.ad of protests. The media is full of recent and very recent cases of political abductions brutal torture, selected application of the law, harassments, imprisonment of innocent souls, and even killings of unarmed civilians by Zanu sponsored individuals and structures like the youths militias, war veterans, the army, Police, and ClOs. We do not expect UNIICR to work closely with the Zanu Pf dictators.
In addition, there are many well-known opposition activists amongst the same group of refugees who will certain, face persecution upon arrival in Zimbabwe. As a movement that is well versed with what is on the ground in Zimbabwe, we are really surprised by the decision to send these refugees back to Zimbabwe, instead, we propose that they relocated far away from Zimbabwe so that they can be free from both bar and persecution, and are able to rebuild their lives. They deserve as humans to move out of a refugee camp where they have to live for so long and survive on tokens. We kindly ask your office, (UNHCR Botswana) to reverse its decision and do the right thing. That is the only way to stop endangering these innocent souls. We highly suspect that the decision to deport them may have been reached with influence from the Zimbabwe regime is possible that something not right is about to take place for the refugees it would be best to set up an independent commission of inquiry to look into this case before they are deported. Some have been forced to register as if they are doing it voluntarily and yet they are not in agreement. We are kindly asking you to cause an inquiry so that you may establish the real truth of the matter so as to help these people. We are grateful for what UNHCR is doing in many parts of the world but this case in question is worrying every right-thinking Zimbabwean because the situation in Zimbabwe is not at all for these refugees. We thank you in advance for being there for the whole world where there are problems and havoc hoping that the matter will be revied.