Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Monday, April 09, 2007

Zimbabwe: Attacks against dissidents on the rise

Today's New York Times reports an increasing number of physical attacks against dissidents in Zimbabwe:

"There is nothing subtle about the reaction of President Robert G. Mugabe’s government to the latest surge of political unrest in Zimbabwe. By the scores — by the hundreds, some opposition figures say — people critical of Mr. Mugabe’s rule are being cornered on sidewalks, hauled to jails or simply abducted from their homes in early morning raids, and then savagely beaten.

"The main faction of the leading opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, says that at least 500 of its members have been attacked in the last month. The numbers of attacks on civic advocates and other opposition figures is less clear but appears substantial.

"Some of those attacked are left with fractured skulls or broken limbs. A few have been shot. At least one has been killed: a week ago, a 65-year-old former cameraman for the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation was found bludgeoned to death in a field 50 miles from his home in Glenview, a south Harare slum that is a locus of antigovernment sentiment..."

"..Mr. Mugabe was widely quoted last month as saying that “the police have a right to bash” protesters who resist them, and added that the main leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, deserved the beating he got on March 11 — leaving him hospitalized with a head wound and possible skull fracture.

"An international furor erupted this week after The Herald, a government-controlled newspaper that frequently speaks for officials in power, suggested that one British diplomat that it accused of aiding opposition figures might return to London 'in a body bag, like some of her colleagues from Iraq and Afghanistan.'

“'This is not a regime that is ensconced in the affections of the people,' Iden Wetherell, an editor of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent, said in his downtown offices this week. 'There’s a real fear of popular mobilization. Look at the pattern of beating people up, of declaring Harare a zone where no demonstrations can be held, of breaking up news conferences. It’s clearly an attempt to prevent the leadership of the opposition from communicating with its members.'”


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