Saturday, April 14, 2007

600 arrested, abducted, tortured

NCREASING political violence across the country over the past few weeks has seen over 600 opposition leaders and supporters arrested, abducted, tortured or even killed.

Security agencies who have been at the forefront of the mayhem have defended their actions, arguing that they were thwarting plans to overthrow a legitimate government. Police have also accused the opposition of masterminding a spate of petrol bombings around the country.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change this week blamed security agencies it said had been turned into vigilante groups, abducting people, often during the night, torturing and then killing them.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told journalists yesterday that since February, over 600 people had been abducted and tortured by hit squads, comprising the police, the CIO, and the militias.

"Since February 16, 2007, over 600 people have bee abducted and tortured," Tsvangirai said. "Of these, at least 150 activists and leaders at various levels have sustained death threatening injuries at the ruthless arm of the increasingly partial security apparatus of the state."

"It saddens me to note that some people are being denied bail by the increasingly complicit judiciary and a bench stuffed with subjects who have benefited from the pat...ronage system of land reform and inputs generated by the government," he said.

Tsvangirai distanced his party from the spate of petrol bombings, calling the claims "hysterical shrills of false allegations".

Ten MDC activists including Ian Makone and Luke Tamborinyoka arrested last week for masterminding petrol bombings are still in custody.

His comments come as the police crackdown continues. On Wednesday police arrested two national executive members of the Tsvangirai faction and an unconfirmed number of activists in Bulawayo on allegations that they plotted to derail a local passenger train last month.

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