A Dangerous Time for Human Rights in Zimbabwe

Accordingto recent reports from watchdog organization Sokwanele,politically-motivated human rights abuses are on the rise in Zimbabwe.

PresidentRobert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party employed brutal tactics to garner votes inZimbabwe’s March 2008 elections. His main political rival and leader of theMovement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai became Prime Ministerafter a Southern African Development Community (SADC)-brokered deal which created anartificial “unity government” featuring leadership positions for both men. AsMugabe expresses growing dissatisfaction with this joint political arrangement,ZANU-PF has begun mobilizing its many troops for a campaign of violence andintimidation, hoping to scare the people of Zimbabwe into voting it into poweryet again.

Recently,ZANU-PF-controlled police arrested a top aide to Morgan Tsvangiraiat his home in Harare. The aide, Jameson Timba, was accused of “insulting Mr.Mugabe,” a criminal act under Mugabe’s autocratic rule, and thrown into one ofthe country’s lice-infested prisons. Tsvangirai himself has been labeled a “security threat”in a flagrant attempt to vilify him in the face of the country’s upcomingelections. Even churchesdeemed sympathetic to the MDC have become targets for threats andaggression. 

In December 2009, Physicians for Human Rightsinvestigated systematic human rights violations by Mugabe and his cronies thatwere directly linked to the collapse of the nation’s health system as well asthe raging epidemic of cholera that ensued. In its report,PHR called on the UN Security Council to refer the crisis in Zimbabwe to theInternational Criminal Court for investigation into crimes against humanity onthe part of the Mugabe regime. Mr. Mugabe must no longer be allowed to violatethe rights of his people and the terms of agreements he has signed onto with impunity. 

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