Sat, Apr 19, 2003 at 9:10:01 am
As the world focuses on the conflict in the Middle East, Jacques Chirac’s dictator friend Robert Mugabe has unleashed a reign of unprecedented terror against political opponents in Zimbabwe. (Hat tip: Jewels.)
The 79-year-old President marked the 23rd anniversary of independence yesterday with a speech in which he warned that he would tolerate no challenge to his rule. He accused Britain and the US of attempting to "recolonise" Zimbabwe because they opposed his seizures of white-owned land.
State newspapers carried full-page advertisements calling on Zimbabweans to shun "mass violence" by "terrorists and thugs". But during the period leading to the fall of Baghdad, more than 1,000 opposition supporters were arrested, detained in prison and tortured, claims the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The numbers arrested in the past month are unprecedented, and for the first time the focus of intimidation has shifted from the rural areas to opposition supporters in towns. Many victims have been forced to sit on hot electric stoves and fires, says the MDC, which is publishing newspaper advertisements showing pictures of the tortured and injured.
The notorious "Green Bombers", Mr Mugabe's youth militias, have also intensified their intimidation campaign in the countryside, seeking out MDC sympathisers, burning homes, raping and beating. Many victims are thought to have been beaten to death.
But the latest massive government clampdown is aimed at the middle and higher levels of the MDC and, unusually, is being conducted in Harare and the other cities. Some of Mr Mugabe's opponents say they have been forced to have sex with their children. ...
But it is not just party activists who are being intimidated. Robert Muchago, a water engineer who is now in South Africa, has first-hand experience of brutality. Mr Muchago, 32, was in a nightclub in Chitungwiza, a dormitory town near Harare, 10 days ago when army soldiers stormed the club. The soldiers randomly paired every man with a woman. Mr Muchago said many of the women were prostitutes. They forced them to undress and engage in unprotected public sex.
"With the high prevalence of HIV-Aids, it was like being asked to sign your death warrant," Mr Muchago said. Two men who tried to plead were savagely beaten and left for dead. Fearing for their lives, the rest of the "couples" complied.
Scores of young women have been rounded up and raped by the Green Bombers. "Jane", 16, said she was beaten and raped by eight different militia commanders in a 12-hour ordeal. Her crime, she was told, was her father's suspected support for the MDC.
Where’s the United Nations?
The South African government mustered support among African nations within the UN Human Rights Commission to prevent a vote condemning Zimbabwe in Geneva this week.
But that same Human Rights Commission, headed by terrorist state Libya, had no trouble condemning Israel, of course.
UPDATE: For more on the horrific events in Zimbabwe, see this comment from zulubaby.