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of human rights violations in Zimbabwe in 2007: Democracy and human
rights under siege
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human
Rights and Labor, Bureau of African Affairs
December 03, 2007
and human rights under siege
Against a backdrop
of deepening economic and humanitarian crises caused by its irresponsible
policies, the Government of Zimbabwe has intensified its crackdown
on democracy and human rights.
On March 11,
police attacked a peaceful prayer gathering of political opponents
and civil society leaders, killing one opposition member and arresting
50 others, a number of whom were severely beaten while in custody.
Africa, Europe, and North America condemned the brutal actions of
the Zimbabwean government. Eight months later, the campaign of repression
continues, even as regional leaders work to establish dialogue between
the regime and the opposition.
continue to employ arbitrary arrest, abduction, torture and other
abuse, including beatings with whips and cables, suspension, and
electric shock to repress civil and political freedoms on a massive
scale. 2007 has been the worst year yet for Zimbabwe's human
rights defenders. The suffering of all Zimbabweans grows more acute
by the day.
Feb 6- 78 students
arrested for peacefully demonstrating against tuition increases,
Feb 13- 174
members of Women
of Zimbabwe Arise! (WOZA), a peaceful women's non-governmental
organization (NGO), arrested, some carrying infants, and some brutally
beaten by police.
March 8- 37
members of the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an NGO calling for peaceful democratic
reform, arrested for demonstrating.
March 11- More
than 1,000 security forces in Harare violently disrupt a prayer
rally organized by the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of church and civil society organizations
and political opposition groups. More than 50 attendees arrested.
During ongoing clashes with unarmed opposition supporters throughout
the day, police shot and killed opposition member Gift Tandare.
Police severely beat many of the detainees for prolonged periods
while in custody, including opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
and denied them access to legal counsel and medical attention for
several days. All were released on March 13. At a rally of supporters,
Mugabe said of Tsvangirai's beating: "Of course he was
bashed. He deserved it . . . I told police to beat him a lot. He
and his MDC must stop their terrorist activities. We are saying
to him, 'Stop it now or you will regret it."
March 12- Two
opposition supporters wounded when police fired into a crowd of
mourners who were attending the funeral service of opposition activist
March 18- Opposition
leader and Member of Parliament Nelson Chamisa beaten with iron
bars by unidentified assailants, believed by eyewitnesses to be
state agents, at the airport as he attempted to travel abroad. Chamisa
sustained serious head injuries, and was prevented from traveling.
March 27- Suspected
state security agents abducted opposition leader Last Maengahama
from a shopping center and beat him with iron bars as they questioned
him about the opposition's plans, abandoning him more than
50 miles away with a broken leg, lacerations, and severe bruising.
March 28- A
journalist and more than 30 opposition supporters, including opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, arrested at opposition party offices;
many were severely assaulted while in police custody.
April 19- Police
arrested 82 members of the NGO WOZA for peacefully protesting frequent
power outages and poor service from the state electric authority.
Police arrested two other members when they attempted to bring food
to those in custody.
May 8- Police
beat more than 50 lawyers gathered outside the High Court to protest
the unlawful arrest of two prominent human rights attorneys.
May 26- 200
opposition youth beaten and arrested during a meeting at their headquarters.
June 6- Police
used batons to disperse a peaceful demonstration held by the NGO
WOZA. Seven members arrested; two were badly beaten during arrest.
At least 20 sought medical attention for injuries.
June 11- More
than 100 members of the NGO WOZA arrested during a peaceful protest
march against the economic crisis.
June 15- 50
activists reported missing after being taken from demonstration
sites, homes and shopping centers. Half had been abducted and abandoned
hundreds of miles away and 25 were detained for several days. Many
July 7-9- Police
used tear gas and dogs to break up a meeting of University
of Zimbabwe students protesting school fees. Six students arrested
and over 20 injured. University authorities then expelled all students
from their residence halls. Several students were injured and lost
their possessions; others had to sleep outside. The University defied
a court order mandating that all 4,500 students be permitted back
into their dormitories.
July 25- Police
detained more than 240 members of the NGO NCA after a demonstration
calling for a new constitution. More than 100 officers and others
suspected by eyewitnesses to be youth militia took turns beating
the group, including elderly women and women with young children,
for hours. More than 170 required medical attention for injuries,
including broken bones and head wounds. Bronislawa Kwinjo, a 64-year-old
grandmother, died from her injuries on September 7.
Betty Makoni of the NGO Girl
Child Network and two American documentary filmmakers arrested
and held for nine hours. Makoni was accused of smuggling in foreign
journalists without state accreditation and interrogated for 13
hours before being released. The Americans were released the following
Sept 10- Intelligence
agents arrested Reverend Sonykis Chimbuya, the chairman of the Pastors'
Forum, accusing him of having held an anti-government meeting. At
least 20 pastors from Pentecostal churches attended the meeting
to discuss problems affecting disadvantaged communities in Zimbabwe.
Sept 27- Members
of the government youth militia disrupted a public meeting organized
by the local NGO Zimbabwe Youth Forum, despite police clearance
for the meeting to take place. Eleven arrested, including students.
members of the NGO WOZA, including two mothers carrying babies,
arrested while taking part in a solidarity march.
More than 500 students protested the declining state of education
in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe
National Students' Union reported that riot police forcibly
dispersed the marchers before they could deliver a petition to the
Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.
More than 250 members of the NGO WOZA held a peaceful demonstration
outside Parliament to protest the continued harassment of human
rights activists by police. A riot squad dispersed the crowd, beating
a number of women with batons. 98 WOZA members were arrested and
held for 7 hours before being released.
During South African President Thabo Mbeki's visit to Zimbabwe,
following a peaceful NCA demonstration, 22 NCA members were beaten
by thugs linked to the Mugabe regime, according to eyewitnesses.
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