Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Zimbabwe rape camps

The President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has "set up secret camps across the country in which thousands of youths are taught how to torture and kill."

President Robert Mugabe's government has set up secret camps across the country in which thousands of youths are taught how to torture and kill, the BBC has learned.

The Zimbabwean government says the camps are job training centres, but those who have escaped say they are part of a brutal plan to keep Mugabe in power.

Former recruits to the camps have spoken to the BBC's Panorama programme about a horrific training programme that breaks young teenagers down before encouraging them to commit atrocities.

Members of the youth militia are warned never to tell of their experiences inside the camps, and many refuse to be identified when talking about their experiences.

However one girl, Debbie, claims she was kidnapped and forced into a camp - where she was raped on her very first night.

In accounts gathered by BBC Panorama from dozens of youths, it appears that for many of them the training in the camps begins with rape.

Debbie said she was raped three times on the first night, but claimed that the abuse didn't stop then.

She told the programme: "I was raped again at night and they said no-one can complain because its part of training."

She claims she used to share a blanket with an 11-year-old girl. The little girl was also raped night after night.


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