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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April, 2003, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
UN 'should tackle Zimbabwe'
Zanu-PF supporters
The ruling party is accused of intimidating the opposition
The UK should press for a UN resolution to stop the "crisis" of alleged human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, the Tories have said.

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram says Britain cannot "turn its back" on reports of rapes, murders and beatings in Zimbabwe.

He fears people have "lost sight of what is happening" in Zimbabwe, because attention has been concentrated on war with Iraq.

He raised the issue as it emerged that the Zimbabwe government has ordered a huge crackdown on opposition supporters, with hundreds of claims of beatings and torture.

I would like to see a resolution before the UN Security Council, preferably moved by Britain
Michael Ancram
Many of the human rights abuses have been blamed on Zimbabwe's National Youth Service, known as the Green Bombers, teenagers who receive military training and who, according to some ex-members, are ordered to beat, burn, torture, rape and kill.

One group of youngsters, appalled by what was being asked of them, have escaped to South Africa where they are now on the run living rough.

World problem

Mr Ancram warned that the more the world ignores what Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is doing, "the more he is going to get away with it".

"Robert Mugabe said he was going to declare war on the opposition and that is precisely what he is doing," said Mr Ancram.

Michael Ancram
UK 'cannot turn its back' on Zimbabwe
"I have talked before about rape and murder and beating up. What I have been worried about over the last three or four weeks is because of what is happening in Iraq, people have lost sight of what is happening in Zimbabwe.

"I hope the world will now begin to look at what Mugabe's doing to his own people.

"I would like to see the UN involved. The UN has said this is an internal matter and don't want to get involved.

"I don't believe it is internal. I think what we are seeing now is a crisis which is spreading beyond the borders of Zimbabwe. Refugees are pouring into Botswana into the north part of South Africa and also humanitarian crisis is not one that is going to be specifically restricted to Zimbabwe."

Observers

Mr Ancram told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I would like to see a resolution before the UN Security Council, preferably moved by Britain and I would like to see the whole question internationalised.

"I don't see how we can go on having no action."

I hope the world will now begin to look at what Mugabe's doing to his own people
Michael Ancram
There was now "a very strong case" for involving the UN in what is happening in Zimbabwe, even if it was only sending in observers to see that food is properly distributed, said Mr Ancram.

"The UN cannot turn a blind eye to this, nor can South Africa which is beginning to be affected financially and politically by what is happening," he said.

"We cannot just walk by on the other side. Too many governments are trying to do that, including our own, and we really cannot let the people of Zimbabwe down that way.

"I would like to see us try to involve the UN. No real attempt has been made to do that."

British connections

Mr Ancram said he would like to see EU sanctions on Zimbabwe tightened up, assets frozen and travel restrictions on President Robert Mugabe and the families of "his henchmen" extended to the people that bankroll his regime.

He would also like to see a stronger use of the G8 rich countries' strategy for investing in Africa.

It's about Mugabe taking on his own people, declaring war on them and oppressing their civil rights, destroying law and destroying democracy
Michael Ancram
"I would like to see us saying to the African governments, of course we will invest in this development plan, in return for seeing you do something about Zimbabwe," said Mr Ancram.

"We cannot turn our backs on this. We know Zimbabwe. We have had connections with Zimbabwe. This isn't just about kith and kin and white farmers.

"It's about Mugabe taking on his own people, declaring war on them and oppressing their civil rights, destroying law and destroying democracy. We cannot stand by and let that happen."




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