Rights body sees rise in Zimbabwe abductions

May 28th, 2008 - 9:19 am ICT by admin  

By Jan Raath
Johannesburg/Harare, May 28 (DPA) One of Zimbabwe’s leading human rights organisations has pointed out that cases of abduction and killings of opposition activists are increasing ahead of the controversial run-off in presidential elections next month. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said it was “greatly disturbed by the escalating phenomenon of enforced disappearance of political party members,” adding the victims had been “abducted, severely tortured and in a growing number of cases, extra-judicially executed,” with the corpses dumped usually in remote areas.

It said that the silence of President Robert Mugabe’s regime over the incidents indicated its complicity.

The report comes after about six weeks of violent retribution following Zimbabwe’s first round of elections on March 29, with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change claiming that 43 of its supporters and officials have been murdered, about 2,000 who had to seek hospital attention and thousands more fleeing their homes.

Human rights agencies confirm that except for a tiny minority of cases, the victims have said militias of Mugabe’s ZANU(PF) party, police, soldiers or state secret agents carried out the attacks.

The violence predominantly has been in the form of savage beatings inflicted on people mostly in rural areas, but observers say that abduction and murder appears to be a new strategy by the regime.

ZLHR cited four confirmed cases of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials who were either snatched from their homes or intercepted while driving, and disappeared, only for their decomposing and mutilated bodies to be discovered several days later.

“These are by no means the only the only victims of enforced disappearance, and ZLHR is currently attempting to confirm several other such cases,” it said.

“Regrettably, the silence of the authorities in the face of such atrocities can only be perceived by all reasonable persons as acquiescence and a fuelling of impunity.”

The MDC won the parliamentary election in March and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai secured more votes than Mugabe in the presidential vote, but his tally - according to results issued by the state electoral body after it had sat on statistics for a month -just failed to exceed 50 percent of the vote, necessitating a run-off, on June 27.

On Sunday, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai attended the funeral in Harare of one of the victims, Tonderai Ndira, an opposition youth official whose body was dumped in the morgue of a Harare hospital a week ago after he was kidnapped from his Harare home by eight unknown men wielding pistols a week earlier.

His family obtained a court order to force authorities to allow an independent pathologist to carry out a post mortem, but then hospital officials moved the already badly decomposing body to an unrefrigerated area of the hospital, accelerating the decomposition of the body to the point where an investigation would have been almost impossible.

Mugabe launched his campaign Sunday, accusing the MDC of being the perpetrator of the violence, while his party publicity machine adopted a new profile, with advertisements in newspapers showing a smiling, genial Mugabe, and quoting him as saying that “… violence is needless and must stop forthwith.”

The 84-year-old leader is notorious for his statement before previous election that “we have degrees in violence.”

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