23 April 2008

Zimbabwe: Shocking Accounts of State Torture Continue

Reports of shocking incidents of torture and assault, perpetrated by state agents against innocent civilians, continue to be documented around Zimbabwe as the world community watches.

Zimbabweans participated in the March 29th election trusting that this democratic process would resolve the political crisis that has crippled their lives. But now they find themselves victimised by the party that lost the election and is refusing to accept defeat. The word "genocide" is already being applied to the situation as more and more officials and supporters of the opposition turn up as victims at treatment centres and safe houses.

Children and the elderly are not escaping the brutality. A girl of 7 and a boy 10 years of age were seen and treated by physicians from the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights this week. The organisation reported a cumulative total of 323 cases of organised violence and torture in April alone. 81 of the cases they treated were within a 3-day period.

There are numerous, confirmed reports from around the country, of brutal attacks. In Chiweshe villagers were forced to plunge their voting hands into boiling water while being told 'this is the hand that betrayed the nation'. Driefontein Hospital in Chirumhanzu, Mindlands province has been closed down after a group of 300 Zanu PF youth militia besieged it. The hospital authorities were accused of treating MDC members and the medical staff were beaten up. It is alleged that the youths then attacked the patients.

Reporters on the ground working at great risk have managed to capture and smuggle out many images. The victims' stories confirm that the violent campaign is about retribution for not voting for Mugabe and ZANU-PF. They also confirm that the perpetrators are members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Zimbabwe National Army and ZANU-PF youths.

Global television audiences have seen displaced people by the roadside, their few worldly belongings in plastic bags or sitting in tears, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Disturbing images of serious cuts, burns and bruises have also been broadcast.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) have been documenting and reporting cases of politically motivated violations in all the country's provinces. Their latest report shows an alarming increase of incidents of gross forms of physical attack by soldiers in army gear. There has also been a continuation of politically motivated in the Midlands and Matabeleland North.

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