Page last updated at 20:04 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 21:04 UK

Zimbabwe farmer seeks Obama's aid

Ben Freeth and his family
Ben Freeth's family home was set alight in a suspected arson attack

A Kent-born farmer has travelled to Washington DC to ask President Barack Obama to put pressure on Zimbabwe to resolve its political crisis.

Ben Freeth was beaten up last year with his in-laws, Angela and Mike Campbell, at their farm in Harare, which was later destroyed by suspected arsonists.

"Washington is a very, very important place," Mr Freeth said.

"The Americans have the power and we want them to have the will to do something about the situation."

Before they were attacked, Mr Freeth and the Campbells fought a landmark court case to prevent the Zimbabwean government from seizing their farm.

Mr Freeth, whose parents Claire and Zach live near Sittingbourne, had also written newspaper articles criticising the regime.

'Stop suffering'

In March, Mr Obama renewed US sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year.

And in June he announced $73m (£44m) in aid for Zimbabwe in an effort to encourage the rule of law, human rights and basic health and education.

Mr Freeth said he was in Washington to speak to senators and President Obama's advisers.

"We believe that there are some excellent men and women in the country who have got human rights at heart, who want to see the suffering of other countries stopped," he said.

"Time is ticking by and more and more people are leaving.

"Our doctors, our nurses, and our teachers have gone and we have to somehow arrest that mass exodus.

"Everyone needs to play their part."

Footage filmed secretly by Mr Freeth and his family forms part of a documentary Mugabe and the White African, which will be shown at the London Film Festival later this month.


Ben Freeth describes the "catalogue of terror and disaster" his family has suffered in the past year

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