ZIMBABWE HUMAN RIGHTS NGO FORUM
POLITICAL VIOLENCE REPORT FOR JANUARY 2001
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (also known as the “Human Rights Forum”) has been in existence since January 1998. Nine non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights came together to provide legal and psychosocial assistance to the victims of the Food Riots of 1998. The Human Rights Forum has now expanded its objectives to assist victims of organised violence, using the following definition: “organised violence” means the inter-human infliction of significant avoidable pain and suffering by an organised group according to a declared or implied strategy and/or system of ideas and attitudes. It comprises any violent action, which is unacceptable by general human standards, and relates to the victims’ mental and physical well-being. The Human Rights Forum operates a Legal Unit and a Research and Documentation Unit. Member organisations of the Human Forum are: The Amani Trust The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace The Legal Resources Foundation Transparency International (Zimbabwe) The University of Zimbabwe Legal Aid and Advice Scheme Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and the Rehabilitation of the Offender Zimbabwe Human Rights Association Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association Associate members: GALZ Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust The Human Rights Forum can be contacted through any member organisation or the following personnel: The Chairperson, c/o P O Box 5465, Harare – cell phone #091 233 712 The Co-ordinator, c/o P O Box CY 1393, Causeway – cell phone # 091 337 699 The Project Lawyer, c/o P O Box 5465, Harare – cell phone #091 238 070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.hrforumzim.com
All previous reports can be found on the website.
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Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
This report is based upon cases seen by the Human Rights Legal Unit [HRLU]of the Human Rights Forum during January 2001. The HRLU will issue periodic reports during the forthcoming year, whilst the Human Rights Research Unit [HRU]will continue to provide its overview reports in the monthly Human Rights Monitor. For a collection of the reports issued by the Human Rights Forum, please see our web site [www.hrforumzim.com], or contact the Forum by mail or email as above. Overview Nearly all persons seen during January were victims of the political violence from the by-election in the Bikita West constituency. 23 victims were seen by the HRLU. All incidents noted occurred between 4 and 15 January 2001. Amongst the victims were 7 young men from a group of 13 who were initially detained by war veterans and subsequently handed over to the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO). The victims were detained and tortured for four days and subsequently released in Gonarezhou National Park, thus confirming the press reports of this incident. Most of the victims that reported their assaults are males between the age of 21 and 32 years old. The one female was severely assaulted and died of her injuries shortly afterwards in a hospital. It is important to stress that the violence experienced by these victims should not be seen simply as ‘political violence’, but constitute such gross human rights violations as torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Such crimes are expressly forbidden by the Constitution, the criminal law of the country and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Given these allegations of torture, it is imperative that the Government take steps to ensure that a climate of peaceful political competition is re-established. It is also vital that the Government ensures that the full weight of the law is brought against the perpetrators of these crimes. It is noted that the CIO is strongly implicated in the practice of torture. These reports of CIO-sponsored torture are very similar to the reports given earlier by Chavunduka and Choto, as well as to cases reported during the preelection period in 2000. There must be strong calls for an immediate investigation into the operations of the CIO. The militia groups described as ‘war veterans’ continue to be mentioned in incidents of torture and ill-treatment. The Forum’s earlier reports made similar observations. It is imperative that there is an immediate investigation into the activities of these militia groups and their leaders, and that, pending such investigation, all militia groups be strictly controlled and withdrawn from civilian society. Types of torture and ill-treatment Extra-judicial killings Two confirmed cases of extra-judicial killings were reported. One was the killing of a ZANU (PF) supporter by members of the MDC that was widely reported in the press. Arrests were made and the case is pending. The other was of a woman who died of head injuries after admission to hospital. This case was also reported in the press. She was assisted to hospital by the AMANI Trust, but died before a detailed statement could be taken. The Forum received another report of a killing, allegedly at the hands of war veterans, but this cannot be confirmed at this time. Investigations are still in progress. Torture Twenty-two cases of torture were seen by the HRLU. Twenty-one cases occurred during the Bikita West byelection. The other case involved a victim of torture by the Zimbabwe National Army during the food riots in Harare. Although the main forms of torture involved beatings, there were instances of falanga, sexual torture, suspension, hooding, suffocation, and burning with cigarettes. There is a marked increase in the incidence of ‘falanga’ – beatings on the soles of the feet – and this is of considerable concern since this form of torture leads to pronounced disability with continuous pain.
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Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
Ill-treatment A variety of new forms of ill treatment were reported that have not previously been seen by the Forum. These included being forced to eat cloths used for wiping floors and being forced to wear a condom and chewing condoms. Additionally, several victims were denied access to medical treatment, despite being in police custody. Arrest & Detention Seventeen of the victims were arrested and detained, during which time they were tortured. Nine persons were arrested, assaulted, tortured, held in detention for 4 days and deprived of food at the Zaka police station in Bikita West. Their personal belongings - clothes, identity cards, notebooks, diaries, photos, and other items - were taken and not returned by the perpetrators. A group of police officers handed the victims over to the perpetrators, all allegedly members of the CIO (numbering approximately 40). The following individuals were identified as perpetrators in statements given: Shumba, Moyo, Chimbuka, Gavakava, and Steven. Full names could not be provided. The victims witnessed each other being assaulted and beaten. Their complaints of torture and ill treatment were made to the Zisengwe Bikita Magistrate when they appeared for remand. Conclusions There has been politically motivated violence and ongoing intimidation in Bikita West since the beginning of January. Evidence suggests that this violence, which has mainly implicated ZANU (PF) and its supporters, was apparently meant to intimidate people into voting for the party. It was allegedly also meant to instil such fear in the electorate that supporters of the opposition MDC would refrain from voting. The police took little action to protect persons against political violence in the area. By and large, they failed in their duty to protect defenceless people against aggressors. Police were often present at the scenes of torture, and are reported to have taken part on occasion. Violence which occurred after 1 st July 2000 is not covered by the Clemency Order. It should therefore be investigated with diligence by the police. Details on victims: The names of the victims have been removed in order to ensure their protection. 1. GC [4th January 2001] Male, aged 31. Tortured in Mazungunye village, Bikita, by members of the police force. He was beaten all over his body and experienced falanga. He was beaten because he was a suspected member of the MDC. He suffered injuries to the hands, knees, chest, cheeks and the soles of the feet. 2. TS [4th January 2001] Male, aged 32 Tortured by beating at police station by members of the police force. Injured on head and chest. 3. FN [7th January 2001] Male, aged 22. Tortured at Bikita Minerals along the main road. The perpetrators were members of ZANU (PF) led by Chenjerai Hunzvi, who was present during the torture. It is also alleged that members of the police were involved. The victim was targeted because he refused to participate in a ZANU (PF) rally. He was assaulted on both legs with an iron bar. He has suffered injuries to both legs. 4. L S [12th January 2001] Male, aged 25. Threatened with torture at Nyika Growth Point, Bikita. The perpetrators are reported to be members of ZANU (PF) led by Chenjerai Hunzvi. They were armed with guns, iron bars and knobkerries. The victim was allegedly targeted because he was campaigning for the MDC. He was injured on the right arm whilst escaping.
Note : About 20 persons were injured at the same time. They could not seek medical treatmen because of the hostile situation in that area. The AMANI Trust assisted some victims.
5. R R [13th January 2001] Male, aged 21.
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Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
He was attacked at Nerunedzo School, Bikita. The perpetrators were ZANU (PF) supporters, backed by members of the police. The victim also alleges that his perpetrators may have been war veterans clad in police attire. They were armed with guns, iron bars, and knobkerries. He alleges that guns were fired more than 10 times, but no one was injured. He was injured under his right foot whilst trying to flee. The victim made no report of the matter, nor did he seek medical attention for fear of further victimisation. 6. E C [15th January 200] Male, aged 23. He was assaulted at Mutikizizi Business Centre, Bikita, with sticks, boots, baton sticks and gun butts by members of the police. He suffered multiple injuries, especially to his left cheek, back, and buttocks. 7. L M [18th January 2001] Male, aged 63. He was assaulted with baton sticks by members of the Zimbabwe National Army. Soldiers accused him of blocking roads into the suburbs during the food riots. He suffered multiple injuries. The soldiers broke his left index finger and dislocated his left wrist. The matter was reported to the local police station. The following victims were all detained together by police in Zaka. 8. B C [4th January 2001] Male, aged 24. Members of the riot police and the CIO at Zaka Police station tortured him. He was placed in a cell for 4 days, deprived of food, and only brought to court on 8 th January. He suffered from multiple beatings, including falanga. His personal belongings were taken away including the business cards of his doctor and lawyer. He suffered multiple injuries to his fingers, hands, back, head, legs, chest and the soles of the feet. 8 people witnessed the incident No medical report was made due to intimidation. 9. I K [4th January 2001] Male, aged 28. He was detained with BC above. His clothes were burnt and he was beaten with sticks, kicked, slapped and punched . He also had his genitals pulled. He suffered injuries to his chest, and suffers pain on his stomach and genitals. 10. L F [4th January 2001] Male, aged 27. He was blindfolded and beaten under the soles of the feet with a gun butt. He was also beaten with a baton stick on his ribs. The torture lasted almost 45 minutes. He received no medical treatment despite his requests. 11. L C [4th January 2001] Male, aged 23. His personal documents - photos and a diary - were taken away. He was severely beaten all over his body whilst handcuffed. His assailants also put a mop into his mouth to prevent him from screaming. 12. K C [4th January 2001] Male, aged 28. His diary taken away when he was detained. 11 different perpetrators beat him. The beatings were conducted mainly with a baton stick, whilst the victim was handcuffed and in leg irons. During this time he was a victim of falanga. He was also suspended by the hands and forced to put on a condom. He was threatened by the riot police before handed over to the CIO. The victim received no medical treatment and was denied access to a doctor. He received injuries on his chest, genitals, face, wrists, back and soles of the feet . 13. G M [4th January 2001] Male, aged 23. His personal notebook and business cards were taken away in detention. He was severely beaten all over his body. He was also humiliated by being forced to eat a dirty cloth used to mop floors. The victim received no medical treatment until the day of the trial. He was detained in prison for a week with little food. 14. N S [4th January 2001]
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Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
Male, aged 30. The victim was severely beaten all over his body. He reports being beaten on the forehead and back of the head, chest, back, stomach, genitals and both sides of the hands. He was also beaten on the knees and feet (falanga). He received no medical treatment until the day of his trial. 15. M A [4th January 2001] Male, aged 26. The victim had his personal belongings, including a diary, business cards, and photos, were taken in detention. He was severely beaten with baton sticks, fists, and booted feet. He was suspended by his handcuffs, beaten whilst in leg irons – including falanga - and forced to chew condoms. He suffered injuries to sides of his body, head, neck, back, hands, and the soles of his feet. 16. D T [4th January 2001] Male, aged 23. He was beaten all over his body, including falanga. He was also burnt with cigarettes on his genitals. He suffered injuries to his chest, back, ears, hands, back of the knees, and both sides of his feet. The following cases were reported in the press. The victims were arrested and handed over to the CIO. They all reported torture, and were released on the 9th of January into Gonaredzou National Park. They were each dropped 10 km from the others. They had been placed in a vehicle, which they were told would take them back to Harare. They did not return until the next day. The victims were allegedly targeted because they were MDC supporters. 17. O M - Male, aged 23. 18. C C - Male, aged 30. 19. T S - Male, aged 32. 20. F H - Male, aged 26. 21. D M - Male, aged 21. 22. G C - Male, aged 31. 23. M J - Male, aged 28. The members of this group reported severe beatings and falanga whilst handcuffed and in leg irons. They also reported being burnt with cigarettes, threatened and intimidated. One victim was forced to eat MDC cards and a whistle. ____________________________
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