Zimbabwe opposition and civic leaders tortured in detention
The political situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate. The following article reports how many of the opposition leaders are being tortured.
The political situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate. The following article reports how many of the opposition leaders are being tortured. Dr Lovemore Madhuku is a prominent member of the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe, one of our partner churches. He has been released from the hospital and recovering from his injuries.
The arrest and brutalization of MDC officials last Sunday in Harare opened a pandora’s box in Zimbabwe where protests and clashes with police are spreading from the capital to other cities, notably in Bulawayo. There is concern for our partners in Bulawayo, the Zimbabwe Synod of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa as well as The Church of Christ, as the government has a general tendency of dealing heavy-handedly with the people in this part of the country.
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches have issued statements expressing concern over the situation. Their letters have been included.
Zimbabwe opposition and civic leaders tortured in detention
Shocking reports emerged Monday saying several opposition and civic leaders who where arrested on Sunday were tortured in police custody. The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, who have been monitoring the arrests and trying to send food into the prisons for those in detention, say it’s been difficult to locate the detainees as the police keep moving them from one detention centre to another. Pedzisai Ruhanya, a journalist and officer with the Coalition, gave us a run down on the status and whereabouts of some of the political detainees. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is said to have been beaten unconscious and could not walk. He is currently at Borrowdale police station.
NCA chairperson, Dr Lovemore Madhuku, sustained deep lacerations on the scalp and a fractured arm. Although he was taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital for urgent treatment on Monday morning, the civic leader was taken back to Marlborough police station. The leader of the other MDC, Professor Arthur Mutambara, is detained at Avondale police station. Ruhanya said: “We understand he is being ill-treated there and we are told Professor Mutambara is not eating. I think he is refusing to eat protesting against his detention.’ Lawyers and visitors are being refused access to the detainees. At the time of broadcast lawyers, Innocent Chagonda and Beatrice Mtetwa, were preparing an urgent High Court application to get access and independent medical treatment for the victims. The Coalition said they know of between 30 and 40 people who were arrested but it’s believed there are many others.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights issued a statement calling for the immediate release to a medical facility for urgent medical treatment of injured opposition and civic leaders. The group said: “The lives of those arrested and tortured continue to be threatened by refusal of access to medical treatment.” Some of the officials arrested include Tsvangirai MDC secretary general, Tendai Biti, who is being held at Rhodesville. The Coalition said Grace Kwinjeh, the Tsvangirai MDC deputy secretary for International Relations, is reported to be in a critical state after sustaining head injuries. Kwinjeh is being held at the notorious Braeside police station with 4 other detainees.
There are also serious concerns about the health of MDC official, Sekai Holland, who is being held at Avondale police station. Ruhanya said: “At Highlands police station there is Nelson Chamisa (spokesperson & MP) and Mike Davies from the Harare Combined Residents Association. I am told these two guys were assaulted at Goromonzi torture camps… and have now been moved to Highlands. We have not been allowed to talk to them or see them but we left food for them.”
Meanwhile the Save Zimbabwe Campaign said: “In a typical fascist behaviour and reminiscent of Rhodesian political thuggery, the Zimbabwean police thoroughly assaulted leaders of the Save Zimbabwe Convention while in custody contrary to the provisions of the law and international statutes governing the treatment of detainees.”
MDC and NCA activist, Gift Tandari, was shot dead on Sunday. He leaves behind a wife and three children. One observer said: “I certainly hope that the funeral for poor Tandari is going to be a huge gathering for all of us who demand democracy. I hope that all those involved in the opposition to this criminal regime make full use of this mindless killing to achieve every degree of discomfort to Mugabe and his criminals. It would be no less than Tandari himself would have wanted.” Meanwhile the U.S. government has issued a statement condemning the arrests of the political & civic leaders and has called for the immediate release of those detained.
Also the International Bar Association (IBA)’s Human Rights Institute today expressed shock and dismay in response to the brutal police action on protesters in Zimbabwe , which resulted in one death and arrests of more than 100 opposition members over the weekend. Following a three-month ban on political rallies and protests recently imposed by the Government of Zimbabwe, police responded violently to a public gathering held in Highfield on Sunday. The police reportedly fired on protesters resulting in the death of Gift Tandare, a member of the Movement for Democratic Change, and injuring many others. The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, and other activists were arrested.
The IBA is extremely concerned about reports that Mr Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders have been beaten by police and are being held without access to their lawyers. It is not clear yet whether Mr Tsvangirai and the other detainees have been allowed access to medical care. The IBA is opposed to any form of police brutality and torture, and calls on the Zimbabwe Government to take immediate action to investigate these serious allegations and to make accountable those responsible. The IBA continues to oppose the ban on protests, which breaches international and regional human rights law and the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The IBA also condemns any denial of detainees’ rights of access to lawyers, and calls for the activists to be charged legitimately or released immediately. The IBA further calls for a public inquiry into the police force’s response to the meeting in Highfield and the constitutionality of the three-month ban on public rallies.
‘The Government of Zimbabwe continues to disregard its obligations to protect the human rights of its citizens’, Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association stated. ‘Action must be taken to hold those state agents, of all levels, responsible for crimes committed against persons legitimately exercising their fundamental right to free assembly.’
Violet Gonda, IBA and Kubatana.net
Source Website: http://www.africafiles.org/database/www.swradioafrica.com
Police, MDC supporters clash in Bulawayo -116 supporters still detained
Zimbabwean police on Thursday fought running battles with opposition supporters in the second city of Bulawayo as political tensions remained high in the southern African country following the brutal assault of opposition leaders last weekend. The police blamed the disturbances on opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party supporters whom they accused of barricading the main railway line leading into the city with boulders and logs. The disturbances came a day after police arrested Lovemore Moyo, the MDC legislator for Matobo and another senior party official Samuel Sipepa Nkomo on Wednesday night. Moyo and Nkomo together with 16 other party officials were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly holding a “secret” meeting in the city that the police said was meant to plot violence at next weekend’s prayer rally in Bulawayo.
Police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena, said the police were still to make any arrests over yesterday’s disturbances in Bulawayo. “The clashes can only be blamed on the MDC thugs. We are aware of their moves to unleash a reign of terror to make this country ungovernable. But the police will not stand by and watch such chaos unfold,” said Bvudzijena. Bulawayo had remained generally quiet over the past few weeks following widespread violence between the police and MDC supporters in Harare and other cities. “When we arrived, the youths threw stones at us and we retaliated with teargas. We had to call for reinforcements; that is when they ran away. We are still hunting for them,” said a police officer who was involved in yesterday’s operation. Political tensions are still high in Zimbabwe following the brutal assault of Tsvangirai and other opposition officials while in police custody last weekend.
All Africa Conference of Churches Statement on the Situation in Zimbabwe
The AACC wishes to express its concern over the recent events in Zimbabwe. We are particularly concerned about the arrest and violence meted out on the Leader of the opposition and supporters. We further note their denial to legal representation, prompt medical attention and the death of one person.
AACC is of the view that this event can only worsen the internal situation in Zimbabwe and stand in the way of meaningful dialogue and further aggravate the country’s International isolation.
We call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to:
- Exercise restraint
- Respect the rule of law and human life.
- Uphold internationally accepted standards of treatment of suspects.
We, together with the Churches in Africa stand in solidarity with the Churches and the people of Zimbabwe during these difficult times.
We ask the Churches in Zimbabwe to soldier on with the Ecumenical Peace Initiative (EPIZ) inspite of obvious setbacks that may occur in the process. We must not loose sight that it is through these efforts to find peace and bring all parties to dialogue that will lead to the creation of an atmosphere of political tolerance and the creation of more democratic space and finally finding acceptable solutions that will lead to the alleviation of the suffering by the people of Zimbabwe.
AACC calls on all the people of Zimbabwe to engage in discussions as initiated by the Churches in Zimbabwe through the New Vision Document in an effort that all parties may be engaged in meaningful dialogue on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
We believe that God will stand with his people in Zimbabwe.
Rev. Dr. Mvume Dandala, General Secretary
All Africa Conference of Churches
Zimbabwe Council of Churches’ position on the unfolding events
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) notes with dismay the escalation of politically motivated violence countrywide that has been witnessed in the past few days especially in the Machipisa area of Highfields. This orgy of violence which can be attributed to the ban on political gatherings in Harare Metropolitan Province is provoking this ugly face of violence in the provinces, especially at this strategic moment when political parties are preparing for the 2008 Presidential Election as per our constitution. We feel that the police should have engaged all stakeholders as provided by Section 27(2)b of the Public Order And Security Act before deciding on the ban.
ZCC also notes with concern the statements being made by the police that they will resort to maximum force (when tenets of the law say minimum force) whenever the ban has been defied – this is another provoking factor.
As ZCC we do not condone violence by whoever, and we strongly condemn:
1. – the brutality by the police in the handling of the Sunday 11 March 2007 incident
2. – the shooting to death of the 17 year old boy – thereby further provoking other supporters and at the same time instilling fear among the civilians.
3. – The brutal treatment of the opposition leaders and their supporters whilst in the hands of the police leading to their serious injuries
4. – The petrol bombing and subsequent injury of the police officers
5. – The harassment of innocent mourners coming from the cemetery
6. – The damage to property
If this state of affairs continues, we foresee a situation that will degenerate into civil unrest where there will be a lot bloodshed. We also note with serious concern that criminal elements will manipulate the situation to carry out criminal activities under the guise of political activity.
We therefore, call upon:
1. – the police to restrain from the use of brutality when dealing with violent
2. – the government to consider uplifting the ban on political gatherings as this
will continue to provoke acts of violence
3. – the opposition to urge its supporters to restrain from being violent
4. – the media to be objective when covering such incidents
The church believes in non violence and it is our hope that all stakeholders should resort to non violent acts when carrying out their political activities. Even Jesus as He was facing death did not believe in violence (Luke 22 vs. 49 – 51).
We therefore, recommend that:
1. – all stakeholders engage in dialogue
2. – police should restrict themselves to their duties of arresting suspects and
investigating all criminal activities and not usurp the powers of the courts of
punishing convicted offenders.