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Post-election violence 2008 - Index of articles & images
cases of organised violence and torture, and of intimidation of
Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)
May 09, 2008
Since the last
report on the 25th
of April, our members have reported a dramatic escalation in
incidents of organised violence and torture with the number of victims
documented in the post election period now standing at over 900.
This figure grossly underestimates the number of victims presenting
countrywide as the violence is now on such a scale that it is impossible
to properly document all cases. There have been 22 confirmed deaths
but at least double that number have been reported but are yet to
be confirmed. It is alleged that some of those killed have been
buried on the orders of state agents before documentation can take
There has been
a dramatic increase in violence since the beginning of May. In the
last 24 hours alone, 30 victims of violence have been treated for
limb fractures in Harare hospitals and clinics and supplies of Plaster
of Paris bandages are reported to be exhausted in most health centres.
in Harare has treated an average of 23 victims a day over the last
week. On the 8th of May, there were a total 53 more seriously injured
patients (13 females and 40 males) admitted to wards in 3 Harare
hospitals. These included one 30 year old man on life support in
the intensive care unit with severe, irreversible head injuries
and a 30 year old man with severe soft tissue injuries to the buttocks
and secondary renal failure, also on life support. Both of these
patients died later that day. Also admitted was a 3yr old boy with
trauma to his R eye from being struck with a rock and a 78 year
old man with a fractured lower leg from blunt trauma. One young
breast-feeding mother had bilateral fractures of her hands and was
unable to hold her baby to feed her. Among the other patients, 20
had defensive, forearm or hand fractures, 5 had leg fractures and
1 fractured ribs. Fourteen patients had severe injuries to the buttocks
from blunt trauma which required surgery for the removal of necrotic
(dead) tissue. The perpetrators in all cases were alleged by the
victims to be war veterans and Zanu PF supporters. Similar patterns
of injuries are being reported from other hospitals.
in the previous ZADHR reports, the cases documented by our members
represent only a fraction of the total number countrywide. ZADHR
is concerned that many victims of current violence are not receiving
treatment. Numerous incidents of violence are being reported from
remote rural areas where there is no access to transport and there
are also widespread reports of the injured being denied treatment
at health centres where staff have been intimidated and/or are acting
under specific instructions from state agents not to treat victims
of violence. It was reported from one district (Headlands) that
medical care was being provided only if the victim had a letter
from the police authorising this. Accounts have also been received
of ambulances, sent to collect seriously injured victims, being
turned away by war veterans.
circumstances, it is likely that many of those with less severe
injuries are not seeking medical attention. This seems to be confirmed
by increasing reports of victims presenting with complications such
as wound infections or infected haematomas which are directly attributable
to delayed treatment.
nursing staff at rural hospitals are working under conditions of
severe stress and many health workers have reported intimidation
with some having been specifically instructed by state agents not
to treat opposition supporters. These health workers, who, according
to some reports are treating up to 60 victims of torture and violence
a day, are emotionally traumatised and depressed. One nursing sister
treating victims in a rural clinic was observed to be shaking so
violently with fear that she was unable to write.
have repeatedly claimed that they have not received reports of violence
or of deaths from the police. However, there is evidence that the
police themselves are being intimidated. ZADHR has eyewitness statements
that on the 24th of April, at Mayo Police Station in Headlands District,
a high-ranking police officer from Harare physically assaulted the
Member in Charge, accusing him of being sympathetic to the opposition.
The police post had been taking statements from victims and referring
them for medical treatment. The Member in Charge was summarily transferred
out of the district.
pattern of organized torture and violence being perpetrated by state
agents in the rural areas of Zimbabwe is similar to that documented
prior to the 2002 elections. However, the current violence is dramatically
more intensive and unrestrained. The level of brutality and callousness
exhibited by the perpetrators is unprecedented and the vicious and
cowardly attacks by so called war veterans on women, children and
the elderly shames the memory of all true heroes of the liberation
It has been
clearly documented that much of the violence has been specifically
directed against members of the opposition party, particularly those
who acted as election agents or monitors in the recent elections.
Villagers and school teachers from districts where the opposition
predominated in the elections have also been targeted even though
they have no political affiliations. Without exception, victims
treated by our members have identified the perpetrators either as
war veterans, armed security force members or Zanu PF youth militia
or varying combinations of the three. The few acts of violence attributable
to opposition members appear to have been retaliatory or defensive.
It is clear
from the widespread and coordinated nature of the violence and the
consistent pattern of injuries inflicted, that state agents including
elements of the security forces are organizing and directing this
campaign of terror. It is now obvious that the intent of the campaign
is to secure victory for President Robert Mugabe in a run off election.
As in the 2002 election, it may be anticipated that the violence
will be halted just prior to the arrival of international election
monitors, to create the illusion of a peaceful and fair election,
although state agents will maintain an intimadatory presence throughout
the rural areas.
appeals for the immediate cessation of acts of violence and for
the restoration of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. To this end it calls
1) the immediate,
large- scale deployment of teams of SADC and other credible international
observers to all districts where violence is being reported.
members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to assume sole responsibility
for the enforcement of law and order, and for the protection of
the law be extended to all Zimbabweans irrespective of political
3) the immediate
withdrawal of all military personnel, both regular and irregular
to barracks and the arrest of those war veterans and those posing
as war veterans who are instigating violence.
4) the withdrawal
of uniforms and arms from all irregular police and army militia
not formally attested into the service and not entitled under
law to bear arms.
5) the postponement
of all run off election activities until the above conditions
have been achieved.
again appeals to the international community of health workers,
including the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and
the Zimbabwe Medical Association to bring whatever effective pressure
is within their capability to bear on the Government of Zimbabwe
to stop these grotesque, cruel and shameful acts of violence, and
to be prepared to actively defend their colleagues facing intimidation
and physical threat.
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