by a STAFF REPORTER Black Rhodesians allegedly tortured by the Rhodesian Government are being supported by Bishop Lamont of Umtali, Rhodesia, in bringing charges against the Rhodesian security forces.
Bishop Lamont, president of the national Justice and Peace Commission, said this week the cases to be brought by eight people involved allegations of assault by shackling, blindfolding, whipping and the use of electric shocks on a teacher and farmers and their wives and children. The victims have brought three summonses against Mr Desmond Lardner-Burke, the illegal regime's Minister of Justice and Law and Order.
Last year the Justice and Peace Commission published a dossier documenting allegations of assault and brutality against tribesmen by security forces. Mr LardnerBurke said official investigations had shown the accusations to be groundless and refused a judicial inquiry. The Government later closed down "Moto," a Rhodesian Catholic paper.
Bishop Lamont said the cases he was supporting involved "peculiarly unpleasant" forms of ill-treatment by the Government forces. The Government have already refused to allow an independent investigation of the allegations.
Bishop Lamont's continual defence of thc rights of black Rhodesians has brought him into disfavour with the Government as well as a small group of Rightwing Catholics, who support the regime's policy of white rule.
He said he was also greatly_ disturbed by the removal of almost 70,000 blaa Rhodesians from their homes by the Government, who forced them into "protected villages" where living conditions were poor.
Bishop Lamont said the Justice and Peace Commission, which has lay and clerical members, were still investigating further cases of apparent injustice. These often originated in areas under military supervision.
Mr Ian Smith, the Rhodesian • white leader, has turned down an offer by Mr, James Callaghan, the Foreign Secretary, to send a British official to the country to discuss the situation. Observers report that Mr Smith may have been irritated by some of Mr Callaghan's ccmments on Rhodesian leaders on his recent visit to Africa.
In January 1974 six Rhodesian Catholic bishops attacked the white regime's racist policies and last June Bishop Lamont described the Government's policies as involving terror and intimidation differing "not in essence but only in degree from the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis." He later added the Pope supported him in his anti-Smith attitude.
Editorial — P4