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A Dangerous Time for Human Rights in Zimbabwe

on July 6, 2011

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

President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party employed brutal tactics to garner votes in Zimbabwe’s March 2008 elections. His main political rival and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai became Prime Minister after a Southern African Development Community (SADC)-brokered deal which created an artificial “unity government” featuring leadership positions for both men. As Mugabe expresses growing dissatisfaction with this joint political arrangement, ZANU-PF has begun mobilizing its many troops for a campaign of violence and intimidation, hoping to scare the people of Zimbabwe into voting it into power yet again.

Recently, ZANU-PF-controlled police arrested a top aide to Morgan Tsvangirai at 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 of the 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 upcoming elections. Even churches deemed sympathetic to the MDC have become targets for threats and aggression. 

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

Places: Zimbabwe