Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Help save Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe's democratic opposition

The regime of the man who is perhaps Africa’s most repulsive dictator, Robert Mugabe, he of the Hitler mustache and Mobutu-esque pretensions, has committed another outrage against the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe, news reports say.

A visibly battered Morgan Tsvangirai, the president of the largest faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, arrived at court today dazed and bloodied, with part of his hair shaved as the result of an apparent head wound, the Associated Press reports. Tsvangirai was arrested on Sunday along with scores of others, some who were also brutalized when Mugabe’s riot police violently attacked a planned meeting of opposition groups in the poor neighborhood of Highfields in the capital Harare, the New York Times’ Michael Wines reports. At least one man was shot and killed by police. Colleagues said that Tsvangirai was tortured severely after his arrest. Michele Montas, the former director of Radio Haiti-Inter and now the spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement in the wake of the government attack saying that such “actions violate the basic democratic right of citizens to engage in peaceful assembly.”

As this is the latest chapter of brutality written in the blood of his people by the petty tyrant Mugabe, now, more than ever, is the time to allow the Zimbabwean government know that the eyes of the world are upon them and that such crimes will not go unreported and, inshallah, unpunished in the international legal realm.

One cannot forget the despot Mugabe’s attacks against Harare’s poorest residents in May 2005, when, under the guise of a long-planned operation codenamed Operation Murambatsvina - Shona for Operation Drive Out Trash - the Mugabe governed acted as follows, recounted by the Zimbabwean Sokwanele organization:

Zimbabwe's police have used sledgehammers and bulldozers to reduce brick homes to rubble, and they have torched flimsy shacks. At the same time, thousands of informal businesses have been destroyed, with more than 20,000 traders arrested, their possessions smashed or irretrievably confiscated by those entrusted to uphold the law...The onslaught came like a military raid with overtones of a Zimbabwean Kristallnacht. As on November 9 1938, when rampaging Nazi mobs violently destroyed Jewish properties and businesses, the Zimbabwean police have completely disregarded the law, focusing instead on wholesale destruction.

The operation was dubbed “slow genocide by bulldozer” by the Affordable Housing Institute, by Christian Aid as an act where “hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless…and thousands have since been detained” and as a “blatant violation of civil, political, economic and social rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights” by Amnesty International.

Let the Mugabe government know that this attack will not go unrecorded by the world at large, and let Zimbabwe’s democratic opposition know they are not alone. Contact the Zimbabwean embassies in the United States and the United Kingdom at the links below to demand proper medical attention, access to attorneys and human rights advocates and an end to the violence directed at those arrested during Sunday’s attack.

Embassy of Zimbabwe in the United Kingon

Embassy of Zimbabwe in the United States
1608 New Hampshire Ave
Washington, , DC 20009
Phone: 202-332-7100

Yon sel, nou feb,
Ansanm, nou fo!

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