The report gives a sample of cases to illustrate the pattern of human rights violations and abuses in Zimbabwe during the period leading to the presidential election run-off on 27 June 2008. It is based on telephone interviews, conducted from 29 March to 27 May 2008, with victims of human rights abuses, eyewitnesses and human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, as well as alerts and documents produced by local human rights organisations. It builds on earlier research conducted by Amnesty International delegates inside the country.
The report ends with specific recommendations to the government of Zimbabwe and the international community which Amnesty International believes, if implemented fully, will contribute significantly in addressing the organisation's human rights concerns. Among other recommendations, Amnesty International is urging member states of the African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and others to include human rights specialists in their delegations of election observers to be deployed during the presidential election run-off. Observations by human rights specialists would contribute significantly to the reduction of human rights violations and abuses during the election period and would help develop a durable strategy of dealing with human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
While the bulk of the violence that has taken place since the 29 March elections appears to be perpetrated or instigated by "war veterans" and ZANU-PF supporters, Amnesty International and local human rights organisations have documented cases involving soldiers and other security agents. State security agents have also allegedly collaborated with "war veterans" to prevent victims of political violence from seeking medical care and humanitarian assistance. Local and international humanitarian organisations have not been allowed to operate freely to provide food, shelter and medical care for victims.6
Soldiers assault patrons at a Harare night club
On 17 April a group of soldiers reportedly assaulted patrons at Club M5, a night club in the suburb of Westlea in Harare. People in the club were ordered to lie on their stomachs and were reportedly assaulted with gun butts for about three hours. The soldiers were reportedly wearing hoods over their heads so that they could not be identified. They accused the people of supporting the MDC. The victims were also accused of "selling the country to the West."7
Soldiers threaten villagers with violence in Manicaland
On or around 22 April, villagers in Nyazura (Manicaland province) were called to a meeting by the local traditional leader at Handina secondary school where they were addressed by soldiers. The soldiers allegedly told the villagers to vote for the ZANU-PF candidate in the anticipated presidential election run-off and that if they were to vote for any other candidate the soldiers would return and burn their homes.8
Police raid MDC headquarters in Harare