The Story of Ben Freeth

As a white Zimbabwean your life is difficult enough, but as a white Zimbabwean actively challenging the Mugabe regime in the worlds media, you are lucky to still be alive. Ben Freeth, a Zimbabwean farmer, has done exactly that. Freeth and his family are among those suffering under Mugabe’s ruthless land seizure policy that has affected over 2,000,000 farm workers as he strips them of their land in an attempt to nationalize it. And what has this achieved? Nothing short of a crippled economy and soaring rates of hyperinflation. In 2009 they had their farm taken away from them;  since then it has, ‘not been watered, fertilised or sprayed by the farm’s new owner, who is a minister in the Zimbabwean government’. No wonder Zimbabwe is in such a dire state economically; this land seizure is a policy of  racial discrimination not economic benefit.

During this terrible period, where him and his family have lost their livelihood they have also had to endure death threats, arson attacks, in which both Freeth and his father-in-law’s house were burned to the ground, and an abduction where he was almost beaten to death by governmental forces. One can see the true extent of the horrors facing white farmers in Zimbabwe in a letter sent by Freeth to his son, Joshua

My dear Joshua,

You were born on the eve of the farm invasions and you are now four years old. As your Daddy, I have important decisions to make for you – decisions that will affect the rest of your life. As a family, we live in a country where 85 in every 100 white farmers have been removed from their homes since you were born. We live in a time where inflation is the highest of any country in the world and our economy is the fastest shrinking. We see our friends and our skilled people leaving all the time and they say, ‘We are leaving for the sake of our children.’

Maybe it’s stubbornness; maybe it’s the inherent fighting spirit passed on to me by your grandfather; but deep down I believe it’s God’s will for us and I say, ‘We are staying for the sake of the children.’ It may sound perverse given what I have said about the country that we live in, but I wish to explain.

At only three months, you had your first run-in with the darkness. They smashed up our car with axes and rocks and tried to kill Mummy and you and I but God got us through that. Your Daddy’s been beaten with sticks and kicked in the dust by a CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) man and a crowd and God got us through that. Your Daddy then had another smash-up in his car with war veterans and, by a miracle, God got him through that.

Your Daddy’s been shot at and abused; he’s dealt with beaten farmers and beaten farmers’ wives and beaten farm workers; and looted properties and butchered animals and even bloody butchered farmers murdered in the name of land reform. He’s had his job and his car taken away from him and the farming hierarchy has shunned him but God got us through that. He has been arrested and he has seen broken men coming out of prison and broken families spread out across the continents but I still say with your Mummy, ‘We are staying for the sake of you children.’

We have undoubtedly been more fortunate than most. We still have our home – for today. We still have our family around us – for today. We still have an income – for today. And, for today, when I see you go off in the morning with the shepherd – your hair the same colour as winter grass, head bobbing up and down behind the sheep, a little wild figure at one with the veldt – I feel so privileged to know that you are growing up in such an environment, learning to know and appreciate the real things away from the invasive world of cars and noise and shoebox flats.

When I say we are staying for your sake, I say it because as you grow up, you will face challenges of a nature that you will not face in other places and you will know hardships which, so long as we face them right, will make you real. You have seen death and heartfelt grief already and you have felt dust and wet earth and sun and rain and you know already the joys of growing things and hunting things and of being part of real life – the raw life that comes from being a son of the African soil.

For some, this impassioned reality is simply too much. After a time, they grow tired. The harsh extremities become just too much. The constant fight for our very survival eventually wears them down. “Goodbye,” they say. “Goodbye to all that. We would rather not be part of it.” And off they go to a land of security and progress and hardly ever come back because they know they have left their hearts behind and it would be too painful to become reacquainted with them.

From the cosy world of material security, it is an unthinkable madness that anybody should choose to stay here; but as one octogenarian couple said to me while in the process of being forcefully evicted out of their home of 50 years recently, “We do not deserve to have our home or our country if we are not prepared to fight for them.”

So our decision to stay has not been taken lightly. We have taken it knowing that things are going to get worse; that the people in power will continue to persecute us because of the colour of our skins; that when this storm is passed it won’t take long for the next one to brew up; that our decision to confront evil will continue to have consequences.

Our decision has been made knowing that when we become tired, God will give us the strength to go on, and that somehow in the groping darkness that this storm has plunged us into, we have a responsibility before God not to be overcome by it, but rather to be a beacon of light if ever we can. I write this with a prayer that you will some day understand.

With all my love, Daddy

Freeth’s courageous decision to stay and fight against this cruel repression is truly inspiring. He has even received an MBE for his bravery in exposing Mugabe’s terror campaign, which includes a film, ‘Mugabe and the White African’ secretly shot in Zimbabwe. He has appealed to world leaders, including Obama to increase pressure on the corrupt and repressive Mugabe regime.
At the 2005 World Summit, decisions were made in regards to the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect. Surely Mugabe’s actions towards a whole ethnic group, the white farmers in Zimbabwe, constitute crimes against humanity.
Responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing
and crimes against humanity

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from
genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This
responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement,
through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and
will act in a ccordanc e with it. The international community should, as
appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and
support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the
responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful
means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect
populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes agains t
humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely
and de cisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the
Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation
with relevant regional organiz ations as appropriate, should peac eful means be
inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations
from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We
stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the
responsibility to prote ct populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic
cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind
the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit
ourselves, as nec essary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to
protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and
crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before
crises and conflicts break out.

The West’s response to Gaddafi’s state terrorism demonstrates the transparency of their true motives. Mugabe’s regime has been killing, abusing and torturing their own people for years; surely if intervention is to occur in Libya then it should also occur in Zimbabwe, among many others abusive states. It becomes hard to deny ulterior motives, such as oil, when you consider the the wider scope of other state atrocities around the globe. Gaddafi’s firing on peaceful protesters in Tripoli earlier this year is fundamentally no different to Mugabe’s attacks on innocent white farmers over the last decade; not to mention the terrible economic situation in the country which leaves Zimbabweans dependent on food aid.
If we have a responsibility to protect, we can’t ignore those who do not having anything to offer in return. It’s understandable that the West cannot protect all the people suffering under corrupt regimes at one time, but Mugabe’s regime has been this way for so many years it’s startling to think that nothing has been done. Freeth has suggested deploying a peace-keeping forcein Zimbabwe in order to police and prevent the atrocities he has been subjected to. However with the UN peacekeepers spread out across 14 separate operations including


  • UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)
  • African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)
  • UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS)
  • UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI)
  • UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)
  • UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)


  • UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

Asia and the Pacific

  • UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)
  • UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)
  • UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)*


  • UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)
  • UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

Middle East

  • UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)
  • United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)
  • UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)
it seems unlikely that they would deploy any in Zimbabwe. Reporting the problems in Zimbabwe has certainly cooled in recent years, as the world seems prepared to turn a blind eye and concentrate on other African nations such as, the Ivory Coast, Sudan and the Congo. Yet for those farmers in Zimbabwe they at least have a hero in Freeth who seems willing at any cost to remind the world of the monster, Robert Mugabe.
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Wounds Still Healing

Remembering the Rwandan and Bosnian Genocides

Two of the major flashpoints in the history of UN sponsored humanitarian intervention, occurred within a year of each other. The Rwandan genocide which began in 1994, lasted 100 days and saw an estimated 500,000 – 1,000,000 people die, or approximately 20% of the population massacred mercilessly on an unprecedented scale. This was a targeted campaign against ethnic Tutsi’s and moderate Hutu’s, which involved the most abhorrent violence, sexual abuse, and torture.  The Bosnian genocide of 1995 saw Bosnian-Serbs undertake a campaign of ethnic cleansing, in the attempt to eradicate the Bosnian-Muslim population. Most famously was the massacre at Srebrenica; despite being declared a safe enclave by the UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Force) the peace-keepers were unable to sufficiently protect the town, leading to the towns capture and then the targeted killings.

On the 26th May 2011, somewhat paralleling the closeness of the aforementioned events, two of the leaders responsible for these genocides were captured. Ratko Mladic, former leader of the Bosnian-Serb army and Bernard Munyagishari, a militia leader, accused of inciting and masterminding the massacre. The latter did not receive as much media attention as Mladic who has long been viewed as the most wanted man in Europe and will now potentially face a trial for war crimes at the Hague; providing his health does not deteriorate too badly. As far as closure, or comfort, is concerned the two leaders will hopefully be brought to justice 16 years after their crimes.

The wounds and scars left by the events of 1994/5 are certainly still in the process of healing. Many Serbs don’t consider Mladic a war criminal; the BBC (  make note of one Serbian resident who claimed, ‘”I feel sorry for Mladic, he was a real Serb.”‘ On the surface, the capture of Mladic anaethsetises the pain, but the underlying wound is still very much felt when people are unwilling to accept the man as a modern-day monster. The ethnic and racial tensions appear very much present in modern day Serbia, if that resident’s statement is anything to go by.

In terms of Rwanda, the BBC (, again claims that one of the suspects equal, in terms of their involvement, to Munyagishari, is thought to be in Kenya, protected by their government. The effects of the 1994 massacre are huge; proliferation of HIV, children of the rape victims having to grow up in broken families, even other African nations have been affected by fleeing perpetrators, most noticably the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Economist presented a startling statistic for the DRC itself, that every minute, 48 women/girls are raped; hiding Rwandan war criminals do not help the vulnerable state, already plagued by its own problems. Even though Munyagishari has been captured many still havn’t been brought to justice, leaving Rwandan memories still somewhat vivid.

Is enough being done? One cannot be sure. If the operation to find these criminals and bring them to justice mirror the efficiency to which the UN dealt with the war crimes, then sadly no. The Bosnian and Rwandan genocide will always be remembered more for what the UN didn’t do, rather than what they did. They reduced numbers of peacekeepers in Rwanda days prior to the massacre despite the planning of it being almost common knowledge and were essentialy held at ransom by Russian and Chinese veto over what to in Bosnia; it was only after NATO acted independently that anything was done. It is both important and great news that these murderous criminals have been caught, but it does serve to provide a poignant reminder of past mistakes and oversights in the UN, and problems and tensions that are in many ways still present now within Serbia and Rwanda, as well as all the surrounding countries that have been affected.

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