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defenders under attack in Zimbabwe, United States warns
Charles W. Corey, USINFO
December 04, 2007
Washington -- As International
Human Rights Day approaches on December 10, the world must be concerned
about the situation in Zimbabwe -- where defenders of freedom are
under attack and where the human rights situation is becoming worse
every day, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs
In Zimbabwe, under the
government of President Robert Mugabe, "the attacks, arrests
and abductions continue unabated with more than 500 instances of
human rights abuses reported each month, Jendayi Frazer told USINFO
November 30. "In fact," she added, "the number of
victims requiring medial treatment this year alone was 3,463 --
nearly triple that of 2006. So ...the defenders of freedom in Zimbabwe
are under attack."
Frazer noted that there
have been more than 6,000 instances of human rights abuses reported
by Zimbabwean nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) since January.
"The world must focus on the crisis in Zimbabwe," she
Asked what should be
done, Frazer said that "it is extremely important for the international
community to put pressure on this [Mugabe] regime to accept freedom
of expression rather than beating people down -- to prepare for
free and fair elections.
"I think that the
neighboring countries -- the Southern African Development Community
countries -- certainly support the efforts of President [Thabo]
Mbeki to negotiate an agreement between the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change and the [Mugabe] government, but we think
that most important to signing an agreement is actually implementing
However, Frazer said,
"We have not seen that will being carried out by this [Mugabe]
government, so we are a little bit concerned that even if an agreement
is signed, it won't be implemented."
Looking ahead to the
December 8-9 European Union-African Union Summit in Lisbon, Portugal,
Frazer said, "We are certainly concerned that the issue of
Zimbabwe became a sticking point [in planning the conference]. We
feel that Zimbabwe should not be invited to the EU conference but
the fact that Zimbabwe will be discussed at the conference is extremely
important in our effort to try to change the human rights abuses
which are taking place there."
Frazer added, "It
is interesting that African countries would seem to come to the
defense of a government that is so counter to all of the principles
that they put forward -- the New Partnership for Africa's Development,
good governance, peer review -- clearly they are not reviewing this
peer of theirs by pushing for his attendance at the summit."
Frazer spoke to USINFO
prior to a scheduled appearance December 3 at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies in Washington on a program examining the
ongoing human rights crisis in Zimbabwe.
Frazer called that CSIS
program an "important forum for exchange to again look at how
we can collectively work to see Zimbabwe return to democracy, return
to its former strong economy [and] end the human rights abuses --
the ongoing crisis that is taking place there. .... I definitely
think this is an opportunity to bring world attention to try to
end President Mugabe's reign of terror on his population,"
"There are many
in Africa who look at President Mugabe and the ZANU-PF legacy as
advocates of liberation against the Rhodesian government and that
certainly is a legacy that ... should be held up for commendation,
but President Mugabe at the time opened schools for children,"
"Now that they are
adults and free thinking people, he is beating them down. So he
really has gone back on that legacy. He has actually failed the
people of Zimbabwe and he has failed the aspirations of liberation
of the region as a whole -- so I do believe that again, hopefully
the SADC mediation will help to end this crisis" and that the
international community will continue to focus on improving the
... Zimbabweans that are trying to return their country to democracy
deserve our support and our assistance and we certainly will provide
it," she said.
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