UN experts condemn ‘intimidation, violence and torture’ in Zimbabwe
Intimidation, violence and torture are being used to take retribution against supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after last month’s presidential elections in Zimbabwe, according a statement issued today by a group of United Nations human rights rapporteurs.
They say there is reliable evidence that security forces, paramilitary groups and gangs have attacked the homes of MDC supporters, and of workers with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, in areas where the MDC received more votes than the ruling ZANU-PF party. The UN experts report that at least 351 people have been hospitalized, nearly 300 homes have been destroyed through politically motivated arson, 15 women have been abducted, and several people have been murdered.
As a result of the violence, which has been taking place mainly in rural areas, townships and farms, hundreds of families and individuals, mainly women and children, have been displaced internally or are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
The UN human rights rapporteurs, who serve in an unpaid and independent capacity, express grave concern that the attacks are coordinated and say that it is particularly worrying that State-controlled media is airing programmes that encourage the violence.
The experts “strongly urge the authorities of Zimbabwe to restore peace in the country and put an end to organized and politically motivated violence”. They also urge the authorities to grant free access to independent observers and media personnel to all regions of the country.
The Special Rapporteurs who issued the statement are: Philip Alston (extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions); Yakin Ertürk (violence against women); Miloon Kothari (adequate housing); Ambeyi Ligabo (freedom of opinion and expression); Hina Jilani (human rights defenders); Manfred Nowak (torture).