Monday, May 21, 2007

Opposition repression escalates"


Over the past year, the government has reacted to peaceful protests against its policies on social, economic, and human rights conditions in the country by intensifying its efforts to intimidate, silence and punish those who expose abuses and exercise their basic rights.

Since the beginning of the year, the police have arbitrarily arrested hundreds of civil society activists and opposition members and supporters during routine meetings or peaceful protests, often with excessive force, and in some cases subjected those in custody to severe beatings that amounted to torture, and other mistreatment. The government has taken no clear action to halt the rising incidence of torture and ill-treatment of activists while in the custody of police or the intelligence services.

The arrest and severe beating of over 50 opposition leaders and civil society activists by police and state security officers on March 11 marked a new low in Zimbabwe's seven-year political crisis. It ignited a new government campaign of violence and repression against members of the opposition and civil society - and increasingly ordinary citizens - in the capital Harare and elsewhere throughout the country. Police used disproportionate and lethal force against unarmed activists resulting in the death of at least one activist, Gift Tandare, and serious injuries to several others.'''....

President Mugabe's statements endorsing abusive law enforcement measures can but contribute to entrenching the culture of impunity that already exists in Zimbabwe...."

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