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A trail of violence after the ballot
Amnesty International has documented unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings, as well as harassment and intimidation of mainly Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters and human rights defenders in Zimbabwe following elections on 29 March 2008. By the end of May dozens of people had been killed and over 1600 people1had been treated for injuries sustained from politically related violence. Human rights groups in Zimbabwe have been unable to document all the cases of violence as their movements have been severely restricted and some of them have fallen victim to the on-going violence.
The bulk of the human rights violations have been perpetrated by supporters of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party and members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) (generally known as "war veterans"). State security organisations, in particular the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) have been unwilling to act against these perpetrators -- allowing them to kill, torture, assault and burn homes and businesses of suspected MDC supporters with impunity. In fact, in some cases authorities have instigated or even directed attacks by these groups.
"War veterans" have been used in the past by the ZANU-PF government to spearhead violent campaigns against its opponents in the 2000 and 2002 elections. They also played a key role in the government's violent land reform programme that started in 2000 following the defeat of the government in a referendum for a new constitution. Despite evidence of human rights abuses perpetrated by members of the ZNLWA, including setting up of camps where suspected opponents of ZANU-PF have been tortured, they appear to enjoy state protection from prosecution.