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Gukurahundi: genocidal rape in Zimbabwe 1983 - 1984

Gukurahundi Memorial. credit:


By Hazel Cameron

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s historic judgment in the Akayesu Judgment established that rape and other forms of sexual violence can be an actus reus of genocide as defined by the United Nations Convention on Genocide Article II.

The Akayesu Judgment therefore provides a logical framework to analyze a hidden episode of extreme post-colonial state violence in the newly independent Zimbabwe, namely a state policy of mass atrocities in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands, targeting the minority Ndebele ethnic group during Operation Gukurahundi.

The specific foci of this study are the patterns of mass rape and sexual violence in the military operation between 1983 and 1984 in Matabeleland. Drawing on 36 in-depth interviews with survivors from throughout Matabeleland, this study provides a critical new lens on Operation Gukurahundi through its identification of uniform systematic patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence across Matabeleland.

The article concludes that the patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence identified in this study are indicative of a state policy of systematic genocidal rape between 1983 and 1984, deployed with the intent and effect to destroy, in part, a specific ethnic group, namely the minority Ndebele of Zimbabwe, thereby constituting acts of genocide as defined by the Genocide Convention.

To read the article please click on the PDF below:

[Genocide Watch comment: The current President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, planned and led the Gukurahundi genocide in Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe.]

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