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Statement on the outbreak of violence and selective application of the law
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
February 11, 2011

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) unreservedly condemns in the strongest terms the violence that has erupted in parts of the country, especially in Harare, barely a week after the signing of the Declaration condemning political violence in which the Principals to the Global Political Agreement concurred that it is within the scope of their power to end violence. While we welcome the signing of the Declaration condemning political violence we are highly concerned that this "positive" step has remained meaningless as evidenced by the resurgence of violence.

The Forum believes hate messages from officials and some sections of the media as well as pronouncements on elections have fuelled the resurgence of violence. It has been reported that ZANU-PF youths are moving around assaulting perceived and known MDC supporters. This has resulted in violent clashes between the MDC and ZANU PF youths in areas such as Harare, Bindura, Gutu, Bikita and Chitungwiza. These clashes have reportedly resulted in the destruction of property, injuries and displacement of people. This unruly behaviour by ZANU-PF supporters is a cause for concern and is contrary to the spirit of national healing stipulated in the Global Political Agreement.

The Forum is equally disturbed by, and condemns allegations of partisanship and selective application of the law by police officers in the discharge of their duties. There are instances where the police have arrested members of the MDC only even when the police itself admitted that ZANU PF was involved in the violence. Police officers have also reportedly arrested and assaulted the victims instead of the perpetrators. The Forum deplores such behaviour by the police and implores all uniformed forces to be professional and impartial, and desist from using torture during investigations. The behaviour of the police is contrary to Article XIII of the Global Political Agreement, which states that all "state organs should be impartial in the discharge of their duties."

The Forum is also deeply concerned about the continued abuse of jobless youths by party leaders. We urge political leaders to stop abusing youths as political tools who are paid to instill fear in the public ahead of elections. The Forum also implores the parties to the GPA to promote the values and principles of tolerance and to do everything possible to stop and prevent all forms of political violence.

We will continue to expose any incidences of violence occurring in any part of the country. Those who perpetrate violence, sponsor and/or collude in its execution shall also be exposed and held accountable.

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