Panorama goes deep into Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields and uncovers evidence of torture camps and wide scale killings. Will Robert Mugabe face prosecution for these crimes?
Browse content similar to Mugabe's Blood Diamonds. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Tonight on Panorama, would you buy a diamond from Zimbabwe?
TRANSLATION: It's like selling dripping blood.
In the diamond fields we hear evidence of torture camps. The dogs
were biting him. One of his ears was torn off.
We ask, will President Mugabe be prosecuted for these crimes? Is the
international community turning a blind eye to these atrocities?
says we are taking care of human rights abuses. We are stopping the
flow of diamond, and human right Out of the bowels of the earth come
these wonders - diamonds, symbolising pur ritty. People spend
billions of them each year and buying a diamond can have an impact
far beyond the ring on your finger. Diamonds have a potential to do
unbelievably good things. There is a reason God scattered them among
the poorest people of the world and the richest people in the world buy
them. This natural blessing of riches, some call it a curse.
Diamonds in the Marange area were created 1.1 billion years ago. It
is a miss fortune in history that they were just discovered now.
What's the real story behind these This town on the west coast of
India is the gate way of the world's diamond industry. It is
literally an epicentre, because almost all of the world's diamonds
are here to be cut and polished. We are here on the trail of the most
controversial diamonds in the world today. It is one of the few places
in the world where you can find blood diamonds. Two legal shipments
came through here. Otherwise they have been banned from world markets
since 209 because of allegations of human -- 2009 because of
allegations of human rights abuses. The world is running out of
diamonds N the last 20 years we have not found a significant new
deposit. Diamonds are rarer and rarer. Then all of a sudden
Zimbabwe, Marange came in. The most significant find for many, many
years. If the ban is lifted Marange diamonds could represent one-fifth
of world diamond production. Now, through the EU, Britain is helping
to push for the sales ban to be partially lifted and Marange
diamonds could end up on your high street. There's a reason why
Marange diamonds were banned for so long, the disturbing allegations
surrounding them lay far off in Zimbabwe.
Well, we are thousands of miles away from India's diamond polishing
centres now. We are in Mozambique and we are heading towards
Zimbabwe's border region, just down there, where the diamonds are
actually produced. On the other side of the mountains lies
Zimbabwe's diamond fields. This is the area known as Marange. An
extraordinary 26-squarekms saturated with gems. Miners dig for
diamonds. There are several full- scale mining areas too. Now the
area is tightly sealed off by police and soldiers. We sent
undercover cameras in to look for witnesses to violence. Police
stopped them. They got through. Their goal - to find locals brave
enough to come and meet us. Reports have been seeping out of
the area of abuses and killings, and for monthsvy been investigating
those reports and crucially a reported massacre of civilians that
took place there in 2008. Back in late 2008, people had
flocked to the diamond fields from all over. Teachers, drivers,
parents were toiling to find a way to feed their families. Here, in
one of the world's poorest countries, billions of dollars
worth of gems were tantalising. Then, one day, the military
launched an operation to clear the diamond fields.
We were moving towards a rendezvous point to meet the witnesses. We
could work discretely in these border hills. This is the first
batch coming over now. They are scared to be identified. This, at
least, is a quiet place where we can talk. It was a Thursday back in
208. One man was quietly digging for diamonds with his twin brother.
He had no job and children to feed. TRANSLATION: Suddenly military
trucks arrived and surrounded the fields. There were different sound.
What I clearly remember is the sound of guns and grenades. When my
brother was running he was shot in the back and died instantly.
firing came from all directions. You can see one soldier here moving
in. In this, one of the only existing snapshots. Out of sight
were around 1500 more soldiers. TRANSLATION: We were shocked when
we saw the soldiers. The three of us, all friends, got
up and ran in different directions. My first friend was shot in his
stomach. The second was shot in the knee. A bullet went through my
genitals. We were all running with our backs to the soldiers.
We spent time with many more witnesses. They told us how
soldiers fired down on them from helicopters.
The intense attacks went on for three weeks. They left the deepest
of scars. It wasn't just the guns. This woman had been selling clothes
to other diggers. Then her life changed.
TRANSLATION: What I can remember is being dragged into the bush by one
soldier. He then raped me. I could hear other people screaming and
crying - female voices. It meant they were being raped, like me.
The badly injured were being finished off by soldiers.
This was an atrocity, all for the sake of diamonds.
Our secret cameras got into the local hospital, where some of the
injured were taken. We have copied documents from here.
We've built up a huge body of evidence on the mass kaer.
-- on the massacre. We have 53 written testimonys, in addition to
the testimonys of the people we have spoken to ourselves. We have
smuggled and compiled these hospital records. There were over
250 entries. It is basically page after page of dog bites, rape,
beatings and killings. We re- organised the documents into date
order. The gunshot wounds clearly showed up in the period of the
operation and the disturbing pattern emerged. The wounds were
strikingly similar. Many victims told us they were forbidden from
getting medical help. Now the victims who were there were
illegally panning. They should not have been there. This wasn't just a
legitimate policing operation to flush them out, no. It was a full-
scale military operation against civilians. Our evidence clearly
shows that its aim was to maim and kill.
It was called Operation You Shall Never Return. What were the orders,
and who gave them? To find out, we travelled to
neighbouring South Africa. We've come here to Johannesburg,
where millions of Zimbabweans have taken refuge from the Troubles of
their country. Some were involved in the operation. We are here to
see if we can track down some of the perpetrators.
We are the first ones to piece together full details of the
military operation. These former soldiers and policemen took place
in it. They've never talked publicly before, but agreed to meet
us just outside Johannesburg. All of them were plagued with guilt.
This man was an officer in Zimbabwe's army. He said the
operation had a specific military goal - to surround the diggers and
trap them. TRANSLATION: The first thing we did was to close all the
supply routes. We then stationed armoured cars and deployed an
infantry battalion who dug pits from where they could fire their
light weapons. We then set up booby traps.
At the end there was no way out. The soldiers started to fire live
ammunition, killing people instantly.
The massacre was the culmination of violent security sweeps. This was a
military takeover of Zimbabwe's astounding new treasure trove. This
man was with the paramilitary police unit, known in Zimbabwe as
the Black Boots. He was stationed in the inner ring around the
diggers. He would not let us show his face. REPORTER: Did you show
The soldiers had encircled not a handful, but many thousands of
civilians. A makeshift town full of people. TRANSLATION: Women and
children had come to sell food, clothes, even water so that the
panners could bathe. All of them were caught up in the operation.
They were also killed. Our cameras went deeper inside the diamond
fields. Covertly they got into these - the premises of a key
company set up a year after the killings. Now it mines diamonds on
a large scale, here in the richest part of Marange. For President
Mugabe, faced with an economy in ruins the diamonds are a miracle.
The company is run by one of his close friends. The military and
police mine much of the rest of the diamond fields themselves. Diamond
profits, insiders told us, were the whole point of the military
So, how many were killed for the diamonds? We travelled around the
edge of Zimbabwe's borders to the banks of a river in South Africa.
We were here to get records. We had deployed our undercover team
to this mortuary back in the diamond area inside Zimbabwe to
find a book we knew was in this room. It catalogued the dead. At
night, they hand copied the pages and smuggled them out.
We've been planning this rendezvous for weeks. The documents we are
after have passed through the hands of various people who have been
working for us. Now one of our key contacts has driven through the
night to get them to us. Zimbabwe's Government has acknowledged there
was an operation to clear illegal miners out. It says, no-one was
killed by the security forces during the operation. And that
reports of many deaths are These documents show clearly that
bodies were coming in in large numbers during the three weeks of
the killings. Each body was given a burial order number. It is
extraordinary, but all of this was documented in meticulous detail. We
have it, hard evidence of large- scale killings. More than 80 bodies
were brought into this mortuary during three weeks at the end of
2008. This means - brought him dead. Many of them stated, from the
Marange diamond fields. Most of the dead were unnamed, which is highly
irregular. We located a mass grave, here at the cemetery near the
diamond fields. A man who prepared the bodies for burial told us more
than 100 bodies lay in two deep holes amongst the gravestones. One
of our team went to the cemetery to make a worker who witnessed the
burials. The details are disturbing. TRANSLATION: The body parts were
broken. It was possible to pack them. They were packed in black
plastic bags. You could see the bones piercing through the plastic.
Blood was dripping everywhere. It was disgusting.
We log reports of several other mass graves in the area from single
witnesses. Separately, numerous people told us they had seen
clusters of bodies left out in the fields or in shallow graves. 20-30
people would die every day. I'm talking about the ones I saw with
my own eyes. It was very shocking and disturbing. After seeing it all,
you could not sleep. These events We do not know the exact number who
died, but for our Research, it is We have come here to The Hague to
bring our evidence to the chief prosecutor of the International
Criminal Court. That's the organisation that's meant to
Is there anyway this military operation could have happened
without it being commanded from the very top, Robert Mugabe?
TRANSLATION: Without orders from the top, this operation would not
have been possible. President Robert Mugabe has overall
responsibility for Zimbabwe's military. We have tested me that
this general, next in command, travelled to the area at the time
of the killings, and that the helicopters used were deployed from
the air base of this air marshal. These are the same men are accused
of being behind the ethnic killings of thousands in the 1980s. The
International Criminal Court has not been able to prosecute - those
killings happened before it was formed, in 2002. So, our evidence
of this massacre could present a first chance to put these men on
If there were to be a prosecution in the future, would you be able to
But the reality is that President Mugabe, who recently turned 87,
after three decades in power, is unlikely to be prosecuted.
Currently there is not the international will to push for it.
So, for the foreseeable future, those implicated will walk free. We
made contact with a military officer in the Diamond area. He
took a great risk to speak to us. He told us where many of the
TRANSLATION: Diamond revenue is not benefiting the bulk of the people
of Zimbabwe, only a very small section of the population. The
people who benefit start from the top. From President Mugabe,
ministers from his party and the Every evening, in India, the
streets of Surat, live with diamond traders. This place is literally
awash with diamonds. There is an organisation that meant to make
sure that diamonds on world markets do not benefit perpetrators of
violence. It is called the Kimberley Process, or the KP. The
KP did eventually impose a sales ban after the massacre on the
diamonds from Marange. But now changes are being planned. We're
here in Brussels, at the head of the Kimberley Process. The Delors
plan which would allow these diamonds to be openly sold on world
markets, in spite of the violence - so what's going on? The KP Centre
team to Zimbabwe last August and concluded that the situation in the
Diamond area was still problematic, but much better. But we have
established their team only spent two and a half days in the Diamond
area, and only met a handful of miners. As far as the Kimberley
Process is concerned, what is the situation in the Marange diamond
fields right now in terms of human rights? The air has been an
improvement. On what basis do you think there has been significant
progress in human rights? This was on the basis that there was far
less military in the area, that the two concessions covered by the
Kimberley Process were showing visible and verifiable improvement.
That view that there has been some improvement has led the EU,
including Britain, to push for exports to resume from two Ky mines.
The UK strongly condemns the operation, and it insists that
human rights monitoring should continue, and that the sales and
should remain on the other mining areas for now. But our
investigations revealed serious human rights abuses which
international monitors completely missed, and which taint the whole
of the Marange area. We were told about this camp, and given its
location. We managed to film a few glimpses of it. It is run by police
and soldiers. Our cameras could not stay long, it was dangerous. The
former policeman we had met, Tino, knew what this place was - he used
to work here. We tracked down this man, who just got out of the camp
in February. He could not use his arm or walk properly.
TRANSLATION: They took us and put us in an enclosure. They started
beating us, 48 in the morning, 40 in the afternoon, 40 in the evening.
I was beaten on the ankles by a stone, and by a plank on the soles
of my feet. Other recent prisoners had consistent stories. Prisoners
are held in a razor wire enclosure behind these tents. Everyone gets
three severe beatings a day. Bones have been broken. Military dogs are
used to maul. This is amateur video of basic training which many
Zimbabwean policemen go through. A former policeman we had met had
been through this training before working in the camp in 2008. They
had been taught brutality. One policeman turned torturer said they
took it to an extreme in the camp. TRANSLATION: I saw one person who
was handcuffed at the back. The dog handler was making the dog maul him.
One of his ears was torn off. One finger was nearly severed. The
whole body was covered in blood. The prisoners are illegal miners.
Here, they are taught the rules. The diamonds are only for police
and soldiers - any diggers must work for them. Demand too much
money, work for the wrong rival, and they're punished. We heard they
carried out mock drownings, burnings and worse. Was that
routine, if a woman was taken to We know there is at least one more
camp like this. Several of the prisoners we met had been in this
camp both two years ago and very recently.
TRANSLATION: I was there in 2009. As I see it, nothing has changed.
We put our evidence to the Zimbabwean Government, but have
received no reply. It has publicly stated that its operations in
Marange are compliant with the Kimberley Process. Is the Kimberley
Process formally aware of the fact that there are torture camps
operating now in this area? Mega this is not something which has
been notified to us. How is it that journalists know more than the
Kimberley Process about the human rights situation on the ground?
do not have a huge secretary out to go out and investigate. We have to
operate on the basis of evidence which has brought to the intention
of those of us running the monitoring group. This man, a well-
known diamond industry trader, thinks the Kimberley Process is a
bad joke. Fundamentally, the Kimberley Process says, we are
taking care of human rights abuses, but they are not. It is wrong, it
is evil, and the Kimberley Process is impotent, it is incapable of
dealing with that issue. The KP is in turmoil over Zimbabwe. Some
members already considered the sales ban lifted, and some Marange
diamonds are already on sale. But pending wider approval of the EU
proposal, Britain is still boycotting the diamonds. You would
think it would be impossible to buy one here, but is it? We went down
to Hatton Garden, a Premier diamond retail street in London, to find
out. I'm going to go into this shop, which has been selling diamonds
since 1875. I'm going to ask them if they or any high-street jeweller
knows whether diamonds come from. This dealer was adamant... I have
no idea where they come from, not even the shopkeeper would know.
Even the supplier would not know. So you could end up buying
Zimbabwean diamonds without knowing it. Quite easily, absolutely.
approached 26 other jewellers on this street, none of them would
talk to us. We asked them if they had paperwork stating which country
their diamonds came from. In some cases, jeweller's in the UK can
clearly prove the origin of the diamonds, but often they cannot.
The British jewellers Association says the industry is working to set
up a system for more responsible supply chains. It has called on
British Jor-Els to say that they do not want Marange diamonds. We must
have had 1,000 customers coming in, but most of them do not even care,
they just want something to put on their finger. People may not care,
but behind these diamonds lies a terrible massacre, and ongoing
abuse. Do you think people in Britain should buy these diamonds?
I don't think people have the right to buy these diamonds. As of now,
Have you bought a diamond recently? Would you really know where it came from?
Panorama goes deep into Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields and uncovers evidence of torture camps and wide scale killings. As the international community argues over whether these diamonds should be sold on the open market, we ask if President Robert Mugabe will ever face prosecution for these crimes.