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Statement on the International Human Rights Day
Platform for Youth Development
December 06, 2010

Platform for Youth Development Trust (PYD) joins the whole world in commemorating the International Human Rights Day. This year's theme is Human Rights Defenders who act to end discrimination. Human Rights day is recognized throughout the whole world on 10 December as an opportunity to stock take on progress towards the attainment of the rights of the citizens'. Among these fundamental rights is the right to employment, health, education, equality and protection for all the people. While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights", millions in Zimbabwe face discrimination in their daily lives. Discrimination on grounds such as sex, racial and ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Basic principles on which the Human rights are founded remain a challenge.

PYD takes this opportunity to reflect and speak up on the role and risks taken up by the Human Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe and particularly in the rural areas whom we represent. It is that time again to publicly acknowledge and respect our youths (and adults) who have continuously been victimized, excluded, abused and displaced yet remains resilient and source of strength in their communities on issues of development and progress.

Platform for Youth Development has been part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender based violence that has received overwhelming responses from the communities visited. In our visits effort has been made to challenge harmful cultural practices (check Sunday Mail 14th -21 November 2010).We challenged child marriages while promoting their right to education, health and protection. Respecting women and youth promotes family values which in turn provide community progress. A community unsafe for the youths is unsafe for humankind and habitation. We challenge the African traditional religion and Christianity to shun practices that enable gender discrimination. Women and youth remain excluded from key issues of development in Zimbabwe. Their economic, social (cultural) and political rights have been violated at a grand scale. PYD challenges the government to make recorded effort to meet up to the promises of achieving Millennium Development Goals by 2015. In a way, the attainment of MDGs addresses the Human Rights challenges in Zimbabwe.

Human Rights Day reminds us of the residents of Chisumbanje community whose communal lands has been invaded by Macdom Investments and have nowhere to plough for two seasons now. Surprisingly, Bill Rotenberg who owns Macdom Investments claim to have offer letters signed by President Mugabe and his Deputy President Joyce Mujuru. The community is battling to recover up to 40 000 hectares of land which has affected up to 16 000 households. There is need for the government to treat this land dispute urgently to allow farming to take place unconditional this 2010-2011 season. Despite erecting an Ethanol plant, Macdom investments stay accused of unfair labor practices that need to be exposed.

Human Rights Day also reminds us of our heroes Simon Mukomana and Patrick Bodo who succumbed to the violent regime and have since passed on. Their contribution to the struggles of defending communities from the violence of the unforgettable 2008 June 16 will be difficult to forget. Residents of Chimbengende, Holland farm, Vheneka, Huchenani Village and Rusitu are lodged in the reservoir of our history for their never-die spirit. PYD cherishes and keep in mind the unremembered youths who are still in the Diaspora and have become economic refugees due to the lack of security at home.

The Human Rights Day forces us to commit to memory those young people who lost their lives and limps in the hunt for diamond at Chiadzwa. The human rights violation at Chiadzwa ranges from forced labor, rape, torture, harassment and exploitation. As means of survival continues to be hard with unemployment as high as well over 90%, the young people have found very little choice but to continue risking their lives as illegal miners in Chiadzwa and Rusitu (Chimanimani).

In view of our statement, we therefore recommend the following:

  • To campaign for prosecution and stiffer penalties to those who abuse children's rights
  • To increase awareness of gender roles, mutuality and co-existence of both sexes
  • To popularize Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the rural areas
  • To domesticate and localize the benefits of Chiadzwa diamond
  • To campaign against elections before constitutional reform because those elections will heighten human rights abuse between and among youths at the instigation by those calling for elections unconditionally.
  • The Inclusive Government (GNU) to urgently address the land dispute between Chisumbanje residents and Macdom Investments before it becomes violent.

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