Thirty-six deaths, 2,000 victims of abuse and torture and 3,000 displaced Zimbaweans have been documented in a 69-page report released Monday by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based monitoring group.
The study, entitled Bullets for Each of You,” State-Sponsored Violence since Zimbabwe’s March 29 Elections, addresses the abuses and violence promulgated by President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party against the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The title refers to an incident where soldiers passed out bullets to villagers, with the warning “we have enough for each of you, so beware” in the event that they should cast their votes for MDC, according to the report.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe during the March 29 election, but did not attain a definitive majority of the votes to avoid a runoff vote, scheduled for June 27. And now with only three weeks to go, Tsvangirai was detained by police twice last week, and subsequently prevented from campaigning. HRW says that no fair or free election is possible under the current conditions of violence and intimidation.
Last week, the United States and European Union issued a joint call for the United Nations to send a team to monitor human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The U.S. and Britain accused Mugabe of using hunger as a weapon by preventing international aid agencies from distributing food. Zimbabwean authorities also held U.S. diplomats at a roadblock for five hours last Thursday, during their investigation of government-sponsored violence.
This summer, WIDE ANGLE reports from inside Zimbabwe as part of its new web-exclusive documentary series, FOCAL POINT.