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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Bahrain, Too Soon…

This seasons Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain was postponed earlier this year due to the uprisings against King  Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Bahrain’s uprising was particularly violent with troops firing quite relentlessly on the demonstrators, who are rising up against the autocratic and monarchical system within the country. With a wave of rebellion spreading across the Middle East, Bahrain too sought out some form of democratization through political and constitutional concession. In February, demonstrators gathered at the Pearl Roundabout, calling for the end of the monarchy. The response from King Hamad however, was to use the royal army to massacre the protesters.

King Hamad has yet to concede power and the issues are unresolved. Problems are still quite apparent in Bahrain and rioting still prevalent, yet Bernie Ecclestone, President of Formula One Management, has today declared that the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead in October. Bernie must be hoping his crystal ball is on top form as belligerence between the army and the demonstrators shows little sign of relenting. With the Middle East and parts of North Africa seeming rather volatile at present, it seems a strange decision to take the risk in holding a Grand Prix in a state that has openly slaughtered innocents. However the FIA and the Formula One teams, especially Ferrari, face losing revenue to the sum of millions if they were to cancel. Ecclestone has strongly rejected claims that this rescheduling is about money.

With the riotous situation in Bahrain it seems rather a risky venture for Formula One. Touring sport has faced problems before within troubled nations. Most notably, England’s cricket team have refused to play in Zimbabwe due to a fear for the teams safety in the failed state under the Mugabe regime. Unless the trouble in Bahrain is resolved before October, then the Grand Prix could potentially put the drivers, mechanics,  journalists, and fans at risk. It will be interesting to see how the teams respond to this news and whether they go ahead with the race.

Potentially, the Grand Prix could create a unifying event to soothe tensions in the nation. But the merciless approach of King Hamad provide ample enough reason to not go ahead with the race. However, this move by the FIA could also potentially be viewed as one that endorses the actions of Bahrain’s monarchy. Bahrain in it’s current state, is not suitable to host a Grand Prix. It must be hoped that the FIA consider the severity of the situation, re-assess closer to October and are not just pressured into the decision to reschedule out of a fear of losing money.

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