By Peter Nolan 1
MORE than 100,000 black Rhodesians have been forcibly uprooted from their villages by the Smith regime, which is increasingly employing torture, according to a report published this week.
The report, "Racial Discrimination and Repres sion in Southern Rhodesia,"* is published jointly by the International Commission of Jurists and the Catholic Institute for International Relations.
conference by Mr Niall
It was introduced at a Press
MacDermot, QC, ICJ General Secretary, and Lord Gardiner, the former Lord Chancellor. Mr MacDermott had visited Rhodesia at the invitation of the Rhodesian Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
The report details the growing discrimination suffered by the country's six million blacks since unilateral independence was declared in 1965. Half the black labour force is controlled by legislation which makes absenteeism, disobedience and careless work a criminal offence.
The claim by the country's 277,000 whites that they had "created" Rhodesia was largely untrue, said Mr MacDermot. Half the white population had arrived since 1945, and about a third since UDI was declared.
About 100,000 tribespeople in border areas had been removed to various forms of "protected" villages last year and the report said double that number would probably be moved before the programme in border areas was complete, Many had lost their houses and possessions in the move to inferior and crowded accommodation.
The tribal community and customs which regulated it are destroyed when the people are moved to the more crowded camps, says the report. Each family is allowed a living area of less than 50 sq. ft. and often only one but instead of the half acre and several huts they were accustomed to.
The villages are more designed for the protection of the Government post — in a bunker in a compound in the centre — than the Africans living between this and the barbed wire outer fence, the report says.
Strict curfew, combined with the Africans' lack of watches and need to tend to their cattle, has led to many being shot dead.
Increasing brutality by the security forces, as distinct from the ordinary Rhodesian pace force, goes largely unpunished. The Rhodesian Justice and Peace • Commission, which last year published a report on torture and eviction of Africans, has made attempts to have some of those responsible punished.
The ICJ report says the cornmission had put an advertise ment in the Rhodesia Herald appealing to the Minster of Justice to investigate allegations of brutality. The Minister, Mr LardnerBurke, accused the Church of trying to embarrass the government. Later, the Churches in Rhodesia sent details about brutality to 600 influential Rhodesians, Some of the cases involved electric shock torture.
Mr Lardner-Burke said "it was still and always will be open" for the aggrieved to bring actions against the Government.
In January, 1975, the Justice and Peace Commission brought three such actions against the regime. Fearing court publicity, the Minister later that year introduced a Bill effectively depriving the courts of jurisdiction over proceedings against the Government.
Introducing the Bill, he said: "There is a fifth column at work which on the face of it appears to stand for justice and peace and so forth, but which in reality has much more sinister objectives . The illegal regime have voted themselves virtually unlimited powers, and recent legislation has made failure to report terrorists a capital offence. Last year the Defence Minister had said in Parliament that "the more curfew breakers that are shot, the better . . ." according to the report.
Executions need no longer be reported in the censored Press and, where reported, the victim's name is often not given.
Mr . MacDermot said he hoped the 118-page report would help people to understand why Africans believed there was no alternative to armed struggle.
"I personally fear that struggle will be prolonged and bloody," he said, Peaceful attempts to arrive at majority rule had been defeated by the white minority, who shared the qualities of ',`the ostrich and the Gadarene swine."
Fr John Harriolt, SJ, honorary treasurer of the Catholic Institute for international Relations, who was present at the conference, observed: "It needs to be said that the means it (the illegal regime) is using to defend 'Christian' civilisation are totally un-Christian."
Lord Gardiner said any mercenaries going to fight for the regime f rom Britain would invite a legal charge of treason. $ Racial Discrimination and Repression in Southern Rhodesia ICJ Report, £1.30 including postage from : The Catholic Institute for International Relations, I Cambridge Terrace, London NW 1.
American bishops visiting Poland
Iwo top officials of the United States Catholic Conference and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops arc visiting Poland at the invitation of the Primate. Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.
The two, Archbishop Bernardin of Cincinnati, president of the USCC-NCCB, and Bishop Rausch, general secretary, will take part in several major public functions. including one in Cracow which annually draws about 250,000 people. According to Bishop Rausch, the visit will he made to "express our solidarity with our sister Church in Poland."