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"We have degrees in violence" Report







http://www.zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=2432
























A Report on Torture and Human Rights Abuses in Zimbabwe

December 2007



The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa

The Open Society Institute

The Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture

Since early 2007, the Zimbabwean government has brutally sought to suppress political opposition with state sponsored torture and political violence. This upsurge in political violence occurred following a peaceful prayer rally organized on March 11 2007 by a coalition of Zimbabwean church and civic organizations.


This investigation, the first conducted by international health professionals since the March 2007 violence, provides evidence that the Zimbabwean government is systematically utilizing torture and violence as a means of deterring political opposition. This state-sanctioned violence targets low-level political organizers and ordinary citizens, in addition to the prominent members of the political opposition.


This report, based on forensic evaluations, documents how victims of political violence have been tortured and subjected to other human rights abuses causing devastating health consequences. Victims were detained under inhuman conditions and denied appropriate access to medical and legal assistance. Members of civil society, including doctors and lawyers assisting victims of political violence, also described being subjected to harassment by government authorities. These findings raise profound concerns as to whether elections scheduled for 2008 will be free and fair.


1. Robert Mugabe's threat to Trade Unionists before the 1998 strikes

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa 12th Floor Braamfontein Centre 23 Jorissen Street

Braamfontein 2017

PO Box 678

Wits 2050 South Africa

Telephone: +27 (011) 403-3414/ 5/ 6

Fax: +27 (011) 403-2708

Email: info@osisa.org

Website: www.osisa.org

Open Society Institute

400 West 59th Street

New York, NY 10019

USA

Tel. 1-212-548-0600

Fax: 1-212-548-4619

Website: www.soros.org

Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of

Torture

462 First Avenue, C and D Building, Room

710

New York, NY 10016 USA

Telephone: 212-994-7169

Fax: 212-994-7177

Email: ask45@aol.com

www.survivorsoftorture.org

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa

The Open Society Institute

The Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture


"We have degrees in violence" A Report on Torture

and Human Rights Abuses in Zimbabwe



A Report by

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa

The Open Society Institute

The Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture

December 2007

Contents

Acknowledgements 1


I. Summary 2

Findings 2

Recommendations 3

II. Methods 5

Interviews with Primary Sources 5

Definitions Used 5

Consent Obtained 6

Secondary Sources 6

III. Background 6

IV. Trauma Experienced by Investigation Participants 11

Nature of Traumatic Events Experienced 11

Health Consequences of Torture/Political Violence Experienced 11

V. State Sponsored Torture and Violence after March 11 12

Political Violence and the Events of March 11 12

Violence Against Women 15

Violence and the Funeral of Gift Tandare 18

Continued, Targeted Political Violence 19

Complicity of Cio, War Veterans and ZANU-PF Youth post-March 11 21

Increased Harassment and Fear post March 11 23

Hardship and Fear for Zimbabwean Refugees in South Africa 25

VI. Photographs: Victims of Political Violence and Torture 28

VII. Health Consequences of Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe 33

Physical Health Consequences of Reported Abuses 33

Psychological Effects 35

Psychological Distress among Zimbabwean Refugees in South Africa 38

VIII. Poor Conditions of Detention and Delays in Access to Medical Care

and Legal Assistance 39

Inhuman Jail Conditions 39

Delays in Access to Legal Services while in Police Custody 40

Delays in Access to Medical Care while in Police Custody 41

Delays in Medical Care Outside of Prison 43

Difficulties Accessing Medical Care in South Africa 44

IX. Harassment of Doctors and Lawyers Assisting Victims of Torture and

Political Violence in Zimbabwe 45

Intimidation and Harassment of Doctors 45

Intimidation and Threats to Lawyers 47

X. Risks and Limitation of this Investigation 48

XI. Tables 49



The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa

(OSISA)



The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is a leading Johannesburg-based foundation established in 1997, working in ten Southern Africa countries: Angola, Botsawanta, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. OSISA works differently in each of these ten countries according to local conditions.



There are specialized programme managers in Angola, Zimbabwe and Swaziland-these being the three countries in which significant structural

governance questions still obtain. OSISA is part of a network of autonomous foundations, established by George Soros, located in Eastern and Central Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the US.



OSISA's vision is to promote and sustain the ideals, values institutions and practice of open society. OSISA's vision is that of a vibrant Southern African society in which people, free from material and other deprivation, understand their rights and responsibilities and participate democratically in all spheres of life.

In pursuance of this vision, OSISA's mission is to initiate and support programmes working toward open society ideals and to advocate for these ideals in Southern Africa. This approach involves looking beyond

immediate symptoms, in order to address the deeper problems – focusing on changing underlying policy, legislation and practice, rather than on short-term welfarist interventions.


Given the enormity of the needs and challenges in the region it operates in, and acknowledging that it cannot possibly meet all of these needs, OSISA, where appropriate, supports advocacy work by its partners in the respective countries, or joins partners in advocacy on shared objectives and goals. In other situations, OSISA directly initiates and leads in advocacy interventions, along the key thematic programmes that guide its work. OSISA also intervenes through the facilitation of new and innovative initiatives and partnerships, through capacity building initiatives as well as through grantmaking.



OSISA Johannesburg Office

12th Floor Braamfontein Centre

23 Jorissen Street

Braamfontein 2017

PO Box 678

Wits 2050 South Africa

Telephone: +27 (011) 403-3414/5/6

Fax: +27 (011) 404-2708

Email: info@osisa.org

Website: www.osisa.org

The Open Society Institute (OSI)



The Open Society Institute (OSI), a private operating and grantmaking foundation, aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform. On a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to support the rule of law, education, public health, and independent media.



At the same time, OSI works to build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as combating corruption and rights abuses.



OSI was created in 1993 by investor and philanthropist George Soros to support his foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Those foundations were established, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. OSI has expanded the activities of the Soros foundations network to other areas of the world where the transition to democracy is of particular concern. The

Soros foundations network encompasses more than 60 countries, including the United States.



OSI Initiatives



OSI's initiatives address specific issue areas on a regional or network-wide basis around the world. Most of the initiatives are administered by OSI-New York or OSI-Budapest and are implemented in cooperation with Soros foundations in various countries and regions.



OSI initiatives cover a range of activities aimed at building free and open societies, including grantmaking to strengthen civil society; economic reform; education at all levels; human rights; legal reform and public administration; media and communications; public health; and arts and culture.



Soros Foundations



Soros foundations are autonomous institutions established in particular countries or regions to initiate and support open society activities. The priorities and specific activities of each foundation are determined by a local board of directors and staff in consultation with George Soros and OSI boards and advisors. In addition to support from OSI, many of the foundations receive funding from other sources.



The foundations network consists of national foundations in 29 countries, foundations in Kosovo and Montenegro, and two regional foundations, the Open Society Initiative

for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). OSISA and OSIWA, which are governed by their own boards of directors and staffs from the region, make grants in a total of 27 African countries.



OSI-New York

400 West 59th Street

New York, NY 10019

USA

Tel. 1-212-548-0600

Fax: 1-212-548-4619



The Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture



The Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care addressing the medical, mental health, and social service needs of torture survivors and their families.

The program has established an international reputation for excellence in its clinical, educational, and research activities including documenting torture and its health consequences. The Bellevue/NYU Program is a

member of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.



The Bellevue/NYU Program brings together clinical and academic resources from Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the United States, and New York University School of Medicine. Since its inception in 1995, the program has cared for more than 2,000 men, women and children from over 70 different countries.



The Bellevue/NYU Program has conducted ground breaking research in documenting torture and its health consequences in countries around the world. Recent research projects have included evaluating the prevalence of trauma and psychological symptoms among Darfurian refugees in Chad; the health consequences of detention of asylum seekers in the United States; and trauma and its health consequences among Tibetan Refugees in India.



Recently, program staff have conducted forensic evaluations of former detainees from Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Cuba.



The Bellevue/NYU Program its staff have received numerous awards including the Jim Wright Vulnerable Populations Award from the National Association of Pubic Hospitals, the Roger E. Joseph Prize from Hebrew Union College, The Barbara Chester Award from the Hopi Foundation, The Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Human Rights Defender Award from Physicians for Human Rights, and The Robin Hood Foundation Heroes Award.



Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture

462 First Avenue, C and D Building, Room 710

New York, NY 10016 USA

Telephone: 212-994-7169

Fax: 212-994-7177

Email: (Dr. Allen Keller-Program Director) ask45@aol.com

Website: www.survivorsoftorture.org

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 1



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This report was researched and written by Allen Keller, M.D., and Samantha Stewart, M.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Director of the Bellevue/NYU

Program for Survivors of Torture, Director of the NYU School of Medicine Center for Health and Human Rights and is a member of the Advisory Board of Physicians for Human Rights. Dr. Stewart is a staff

psychiatrist with the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, and an Attending Physician, Department of Psychiatry, Bellevue Hospital.



The report was reviewed and edited by Jonathan Cohen, Julie Hayes, Open Society Institute, New York, NY; Delme Cupido, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa;

Bronwen Manby, The Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project, Open Society Institute, London, UK; Helen Epstein; and Dechen Lhewa and Jessica Kim, Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of

Torture, New York, NY.



We thank Dr. Loren Landau, Forced Migration Studies Programme, University of Witwatersrand, Witwatersrand South Africa; and Emily Sachs, Fordham University Department of Psychology New

York, New York, for their comments.



A special thanks to Selvan Chetty of Solidarity Peace Trust for all of his efforts and support in preparing this report. We are grateful to all of the individuals who agreed to be interviewed for this report and to all of the

individuals and organizations who provided information, advice and assistance in planning and preparing this report.



Support for this report was provided by the Open Society Institute.



2 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe



I. SUMMARY



The 2008 Presidential campaign has already begun. This violence is the strategy of the ruling party. They want to eliminate opposition now so that the situation will appear calm in the period before the election. -Zimbabwean Human Rights Advocate



It is less than one year before Zimbabwe will hold the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2008. Since early 2007 the country has been subject to an upsurge in political violence that has

seriously undermined the democratic process and created a presumption that these elections will not be free and fair. State-sponsored violence directed toward any individuals or groups who are perceived to be

critical of President Robert Mugabe, his government or his policies, manifests a strategy to demobilize Zimbabweans from mounting or supporting an organized opposition campaign.



The international community and Southern African Democratic Community (SADC) have attempted to play a role in encouraging a democratic process by introducing South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, as a mediator between the ruling and opposition parties. However, the international community remains ineffective in its efforts to stop states-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe.

On March 11, 2007 a coalition of church and civic organizations known as the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, organized a prayer rally in Highfield, a township near the capital Harare. Police used violence and arrests to prevent the peaceful prayer rally. They shot to death an unarmed activist, Gift Tandare, and subsequently arrested several leaders of the major opposition party—the Movement for Democratic

Change (MDC)—as well as rank and file attendees.



While the brutal beatings and interference with medical care of the prominent MDC leaders following March 11 received considerable media attention, the persisting torture and political violence,1 particularly 1. For this report, individuals were classified as having been subjected to torture if the experience(s) they reported were considered by the examining physicians to meet criteria for torture as defined in the United Nations Convention Against Torture. (See Methods Section for complete definition).



Individuals were classified as having been subjected to political violence if the experience(s) they reported was considered, by the examining physicians, to be a violent act as a result of their political activities or beliefs, but which was not that perpetrated against rank and file political activists, have not been documented by international health and human rights experts. This report details the state-sponsored violence that occurred in the wake of the highly publicized events of March 11, 2007.



Researchers from the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture traveled to South Africa and Zimbabwe during the last week of April and first two weeks of May 2007 at the request of local

nongovernmental organizations to evaluate reports of torture and political violence. This report is based on the detailed testimony and medical examination of 24 individuals who were subjected to torture or political

violence during March and April 2007. Additionally, interviews were conducted with more than 30 health professionals, human rights advocates and representatives of non-governmental organizations in

Zimbabwe and South Africa.



This investigation, the first conducted by international health professionals with expertise in the evaluation documentation and treatment of torture victims since the March 2007 violence, provides evidence that the Zimbabwean government is systematically utilizing torture and violence as a means of deterring political opposition. This state-sanctioned violence targets low-level political organizers and ordinary citizens, in addition to the prominent members of the political opposition.



The medical evaluations of recent victims of torture and political violence document physical

and psychological evidence of violent human rights

abuses and the devastating health consequences of

such political violence. Victims were detained under

inhuman conditions and denied appropriate access to

medical and legal assistance. Members of civil society,

including doctors and lawyers assisting victims

of political violence, described being subjected to

harassment by government authorities.

Findings

In addition to prominent opposition leaders, ordinary

MDC members and local community organizers

are being systematically tortured and targeted by

Zimbabwean authorities for political violence. This

assessment is supported by the testimony and medical

evidence of the 24 Zimbabweans victims of torture

and political violence interviewed and evaluated for

considered, necessarily, to constitute torture.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 3

this report. All had clear physical and psychological

evidence of torture and abuse corroborating their

testimony. These victims of political violence included

both men and women. They were not randomly

targeted, but included national and local leaders of

the political opposition, community organizers, and

ordinary citizens. Zimbabweans who were arrested

and detained for their political activities described

being detained under filthy, inhuman conditions as

well as being denied basic necessities such as food,

water, light, and blankets.

This torture and political violence has devastating

physical, psychological and social health

consequences. At the time of evaluation, all 24 of

the Zimbabwean victims of torture and political

violence evaluated for this report continued to suffer

from substantial and often debilitating physical and

psychological symptoms as a direct result of their

abuse. Individuals suffered from severe pain, broken

bones, and unhealed wounds as a result of beatings

they had endured. Their backs and legs showed clear

marks from whips or the imprints of clubs used to beat

them. The psychological scars, including depression,

post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and associated

symptoms such as profound sadness, nervousness,

difficulty sleeping, and recurrent memories of

the trauma were also evident. Victims frequently

described profound fear of further torture or death as

well as threats to their family.

Furthermore, Zimbabwean authorities are interfering

with and delaying access to medical and legal services for

victims of torture and political violence. News accounts

have neglected to describe the systematic interference

with access to medical and legal services for victims

of violence. Such interference not only infringes upon

the rights of these individuals and compounds their

abuse, but is designed to increase impunity for abuse

by preventing health workers and legal professionals

from evaluating and documenting the abuse. Many of

the Zimbabwean victims of torture/political violence

interviewed described experiencing substantial delays

in obtaining medical evaluation and treatment as well as

being denied access to their lawyers.


Doctors and lawyers assisting victims of torture and

political violence described being threatened and

harassed by police and other government authorities. For

example, medical and legal professionals we interviewed

received threatening phone calls both at their homes

and at work warning them not to interfere with state-

sponsored violence.

Finally, Zimbabwean victims of torture or political

violence fleeing to South Africa often endure

substantial difficulties in obtaining refugee status and

accessing health services. Zimbabwean victims of

political violence as well as Zimbabwean advocates

in South Africa described the many problems that

Zimbabwean refugees encounter upon their arrival in

South Africa. This includes problems with obtaining

refugee status or political asylum; problems with

attaining adequate food and shelter; difficulty getting

appropriate and necessary healthcare; and ongoing

fears of deportation and discrimination.

Recommendations

1. Recommendations to the Zimbabwean

Government:

Immediately cease and investigate all acts of

torture and state-sanctioned political violence

The Government of Zimbabwe should immediately

cease all acts of torture and state-sponsored violence,

conduct transparent and credible investigations of

all allegations of torture and violence and publicly

condemn such acts. There is an urgent need to

resolve the political impasse in Zimbabwe, and this

must begin with an end to state sanctioned political

violence, including torture, arbitrary arrest, and

targeting individuals for political violence based on

their political affiliations.

Although Zimbabwe is one of 51 countries that has

not ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, it is

party to several international treaties that specifically

prohibit torture, including The International Covenant

on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter

on Human and People's Rights. Furthermore,

Zimbabwe's own Constitution (Section 15) outlaws

torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or

punishment.

Ensure adequate and timely access to medical

and legal services for victims of torture and

political violence

Individuals suffering from injuries and illness in state

custody, including victims of torture and political

violence, must have access without delays to adequate

medical and legal services. The Government of

Zimbabwe must take immediate steps to protect

health professionals and legal service providers from

harassment and intimidation.



4 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

Ensure accountability and legal prosecution of

perpetrators of torture and political violence

Individuals, including police, ZANU-PF party

members and members of related organizations who

have participated in torture and political violence must

be held accountable in courts of law for their actions.

Independent investigations into the excessive use of

force on March 11 2007 as well as investigation of the

organizations responsible for this and subsequent

violence must be undertaken.

2. Recommendations to the Zimbabwean Medical

Association:

Speak out against violations of human rights

including torture, political violence and denial

of medical care to detainees

The Zimbabwean Medical Association (ZIMA) should

work to ensure that the Zimbabwean government

upholds nationally and internationally recognized

human rights standards including prohibitions of

torture and the provision of medical care for detainees.

Furthermore, ZIMA should see that physicians can

fulfill their professional obligations to maintain clinical

independence without harassment and intimidation.

3. Recommendations to African leaders and the

International Community:

Governments and international bodies

including members of the Southern African

Development Community (SADC), the United

Nations Security Council, and the United

Nations Commissioner on Human Rights

must hold the Zimbabwean government

accountable for its obligations under

international law regarding prohibition of

torture and political violence.

African and international leaders must strongly and

publicly condemn acts of torture and state sanctioned

political violence in Zimbabwe.

Medical and legal professional organizations

and nongovernmental organizations both in

Africa and internationally must condemn acts

of torture, state sanctioned political violence

in Zimbabwe, obstruction of access to medical

and legal services for detainees, and

harassment of medical and legal professionals

assisting victims of political violence.





Medical and legal organizations in Africa and

internationally, need to support colleagues operating

under duress and use all regulatory and professional

organizing bodies to call for internationally endorsed

standards for legal representation and provision of

medical care.

4. Recommendations to President Mbeki and the

South African Government

President Mbeki must provide strong

leadership in opposing torture and political

violence in Zimbabwe

President Mbeki must use his role as a democratic

leader in the Southern African community to uphold

international standards for opposition of torture

and political violence and promotion of free and fair

elections and basic human rights including a fair

and impartial judiciary and rights of detainees in

Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean victims of torture and political

violence, for whom it is not safe in Zimbabwe,

should be granted political asylum

consistent with the protections of international

law. Appropriate access to medical, mental

health and social services should be ensured

South Africa must provide protection for

Zimbabweans fleeing persecution and political

violence. Given recent events and historical increases

in violence prior to Zimbabwean elections, the South

African Government and refugee organizations should

prepare for an increase in the number of Zimbabwean

victims of torture and political violence. Steps should

be taken to ensure basic and non-discriminatory access

to medical and social services.



A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 5

II. METHODS

Interviews with Primary Sources

In April and May 2007, detailed medical evaluations

of 20 Zimbabweans reporting experiences of torture or

political violence in Zimbabwe since March 11, 2007

were conducted. The evaluations were performed

in Zimbabwe and in South Africa. In addition,

evaluations were conducted with 4 individuals

reporting torture or political violence during the year

preceding March 11, 2007. All respondents continue to

live in fear of further torture or political violence.

Seventy-nine percent of the Zimbabwean victims of

torture and political violence evaluated were male

and 21% were female (see Table 1: Demographic

Information). The mean age was 36 (range: 19-64), and

75% of the individuals were 40 or under. All but two of

the individuals were members of or politically active

with the MDC party. Those active with the MDC party

were primarily local organizers (12) rather than those

working at the national level (6). While many of the

victims were from Harare and Bulawayo, others came

from all parts of Zimbabwe.

Clinical evaluations were performed using established

international guidelines for investigating and

documenting torture and other cruel, inhuman or

degrading treatment or punishment.1 Detailed trauma

and medical histories were elicited by interview;

a detailed review of physical and psychological

symptoms was conducted; and physical examinations

were performed. These evaluations were conducted

by two physicians with extensive experience in the

evaluation and treatment of victims of torture and

political violence. Each evaluation took approximately

two hours. Interviews were conducted in English for

22 of the 24 individuals. For two individuals, Shona

interpreters were used.

In addition to clinical interviews, assessment of

psychological symptoms was conducted using

two self-report standardized questionnaires: the

1. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for

Human Rights. The Istanbul Protocol. Available at: http://

www.ohchr.org/english/about/publications/docs/8rev1.

pdf.; Iacopino V, Allden K, Keller A. Examining Asylum

Seekers. A Health Professional's Guide to Medical and

Psychological Evaluations of Torture. Boston: Physicians for

Human Rights; 2001.

Hopkins Symptoms Checklist-25 (HSCL-25)2 and

the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) portion

of the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ).3 The

HSCL-25 is a 25-item self-report scale comprised of

two subscales measuring anxiety and depressive

symptoms. Mean scores over 1.75 for the HSCL-25

identify individuals who are highly symptomatic.

The PTSD portion of the HTQ includes a 16-item scale

developed to quantify severity of PTSD symptoms.

Mean scores over 2.5 on the HTQ are associated with

a clinical diagnosis of PTSD. The HSCL-25 and HTQ

have been used extensively with diverse populations

in studies of trauma, and have been validated against

clinical diagnoses. Eighteen of the 24 victims of torture

and political violence evaluated in this investigation

completed these questionnaires. The remaining six

individuals did not do so because of time limitation.

Definitions Used

Individuals were classified as having been subjected

to torture if the experience(s) they reported was

considered, by the examining physicians, to meet

criteria for torture, as defined in the United Nations

Convention Against Torture.4 Individuals were

classified as having been subjected to political violence

if the experience(s) they reported was considered, by

the examining physicians, to be a violent act as a result

of their political activities or beliefs, but which was not

considered, necessarily, to constitute torture.

2. Derogatis LR, Lipman R, Rickels K, Uhlenhuth EH, Covi

L. The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL): A self-report

symptom inventory. Behavioural Science. 1974;19:1-15.

3. Mollica RF, Caspi-Yavin Y, Bollini P, Truong T, Tor S,

Lavelle J. The Harvard Trauma Questionnaire: Validating

a cross-cultural instrument for measuring torture, trauma,

and post-traumatic stress disorder in Indochinese refugees.

Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 1992;180:110-115.

4. United Nations General Assembly. Convention Against

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment

or Punishment. Available at: http://www.ohchr.org/

english/law/cat.htm. According to the United Nation's

Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman

or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, torture is defined

as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether

physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person

for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person

information or a confession, punishing him for an act he

or a third person has committed or is suspected of having

committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person,

or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when

such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or

with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other

person acting in an official capacity."

6 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

III. BACKGROUND

During late 2006 and the beginning of 2007,

peaceful protests and anti government opposition

in Zimbabwe prompted an upsurge in violent

reactions by the police, resulting in the arrests and

beatings of students, trade union members and

human rights advocates. On September 13, 2006

police arrested and reportedly tortured 15 leaders

and members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade

Unions (ZCTCU) after they attempted to hold a

peaceful protest concerning the deterioration of

the social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe.1

According to Human Rights Watch, in February

2007, at least 400 civil society activists and

opposition members were arrested for attending

peaceful demonstrations and organizational

meetings.2 On February 21, police imposed a three

month ban on political rallies, claiming that such

rallies would result in violence and a breakdown in

law and order.3

Then, on March 11, 2007, police violently disrupted

a prayer meeting in Highfield organized by a

coalition of civic and religious organizations called

the Save Zimbabwe Campaign. Police used tear gas,

water cannons and live ammunition against the

unarmed crowd.4 One crowd member, Gift Tandare,

was shot and killed. More than 50 others, including

the president of the major opposition party- the

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)-Morgan

Tsvangirai, were arrested and reportedly beaten and

tortured. Since then repression in Zimbabwe has

only intensified.

1. Amnesty International. Amnesty International Report 2007.

Available at: http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/Regions/

Africa/Zimbabwe; Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for

Human Rights (ZADHR). Torture and Denial of Access to

Treatment of ZCTU Members. Available at: http://www.

kubatana.net/html/archive/hr/060915zadhr.asp?orgcode=z

im065&year=2006&range_start=1.

2. Human Rights Watch. Bashing Dissent: Escalating Violence

and State Repression in Zimbabwe. May 2007. Available at:

http://hrw.org/reports/2007/zimbabwe0507/.

3. Ibid.

4. Timberg C. Opposition Leaders Arrested in Zimbabwe.

Washington Post. March 12, 2007. Available at: http://www.

washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/11/

AR2007031101520_pf.html

Examples of political violence included:

An unarmed individual being shot at a

demonstration

An individual witnessing someone being

beaten by police

An individual being threatened with arrest if

he/she continues their political activities

Examples of torture included:

An individual repeatedly beaten by police or

groups such as the Youth Militia

An individual threatened with death while in

police custody

Consent Obtained

Individuals verbally consented to be interviewed

and examined and to have the findings publicly

disseminated. No one was compensated for the

interviews or medical examinations. For safety and

privacy, victims are referred to in this report either

with pseudonyms or pseudo-initials.

Sekai Holland, who reported being tortured in

Zimbabwe following March 11, gave permission

for her name to be used. Several individuals who

provided background information requested not to be

identified.

Secondary Sources

In addition to these detailed medical evaluations,

background interviews were conducted with more

than 30 key informants in South Africa and Zimbabwe,

who were approached based on their knowledge

of the situation in Zimbabwe. This included health

professionals, lawyers, human rights advocates and

community organizers, many of whom are working

with non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe

and South Africa. Individuals who requested

anonymity are not identified.

(See Chapter IX for Risks and Limitations of this

Investigation).






A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 7

According to a report issued by Human Rights Watch:

The arrest and severe beating of these opposition leaders

and civil society activists by police and state security

officers marked a new low in Zimbabwe's seven-year

political crisis. It ignited a new government campaign

of violence and repression against members of the

opposition and civil society-and increasingly ordinary

Zimbabweans-in the capital Harare and elsewhere

through the country._

State-sponsored torture and political violence in

Zimbabwe are calculated to deter opposition in

the run-up to national elections and referenda, and

constitute a major threat to the country's democratic

development. In late March 2007, the "Mbeki

Initiative," was launched by the Southern African

Development Community (SADC) in an effort to

negotiate a resolution to Zimbabwe's eight-year

political and economic crisis. The initiative gave

South African president Thabo Mbeki the role of

facilitating dialogue between President Mugabe's

ZANU-PF government and the opposition MDC.

Useful talks have been marred by continued violence,

with President Mugabe asserting the violence is

government response to "terrorism."6

The report of quick and violent crackdowns on ZCTU

rallies in September and at the prayer rally on March

11th is consistent with a pattern of elevated violence

prior to past elections. Presidential and parliamentary

elections in Zimbabwe were moved forward to March

2008 shortly before the noted escalations in violence.

Additionally the reports from many of the victims

that their torturers are making anti-MDC statements

suggests that a campaign is underway to deter

political activism in the run up to the coming elections.

The current upsurge in state-sponsored violence has

the potential to intimidate and brutalize voter morale

in a country that continues to face severe declines

across all sectors.

Arguably, it is no coincidence that the escalation

in violence occurred precisely one year before

5. Human Rights Watch. Bashing Dissent: Escalating Violence

and State Repression in Zimbabwe. May 2007. Available at:

http://hrw.org/reports/2007/zimbabwe0507/.

6. Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum. Their Words Condemn

them: The Language of Violence, Intolerance and Despotism

in South Zimbabwe. May 2007. Available at: http://www.

hrforumzim.com/frames/inside_frame_special.htm.

the March 2008 Parliamentary and Presidential

elections. This supports the assertion that the torture

and political violence are the result of a deliberate

government policy to frighten into silence anyone

who might be considering supporting the opposition.

President Mugabe and the ruling ZANUPF party

have frequently stated that the opposition is being

supported by foreigners such as London-based groups

in league with the British government invoking

anti-imperialistic rhetoric. For example in interviews

conducted for this report, victims of torture and

political violence described being called "prostitutes of

Tony Blair." The rationale for such rhetoric likely has

far more to do with the internal Zimbabwean politics

than it does with Zimbabwe's relationship with Britain

or other foreign powers.

Torture and political violence results in fear and

terror that disseminates throughout the community

and entire country. In addition to the physical and

psychological impacts on the individual victims, such

torture and political violence sends a chilling message

to others: "Be silent or this could happen to you."

At least 459 cases of human rights violations have been

documented by human rights organizations between

March 11, and May 1, 2007.7 Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo,

Chairman of ZADHR noted the following:


What they are doing is targeting individuals that are

the leaders and organizers and secretaries that organize

groupings. They come in the middle of the night, pick

you up, beat you and leave you there. They don't care

if you die; that is one way they are beating people into

submission. March 11 was the peak, it came down, but

now it is a sustained level. They want people to be aware

if anyone dares oppose the government this is what is

going to happen to you8.

Dr. Reginald Matchaba-Hove of the University of

Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, a leading public

health expert in Zimbabwe described the current

violence as follows:

7. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwean

Association of Doctors for Human Rights. A Brief Report of

Human Rights Violations in Zimbabwe since March 11 2007.

Submitted to the African Commission on Human and

People's rights, May 2007.

8. Unless otherwise noted all quotes in this report come from

testimony collected by Bellevue/NYU researchers. Precise

interview dates and locations have been omitted for security

reason.

8 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

any threats of violence will be taken seriously by local

populations.

The upsurge in state instigated violence in Zimbabwe

since March 2007 has been documented by several

organizations including Human Rights Watch (HRW),9

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights

(ZADHR),10 Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

(ZLHR),11 the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum12 and

Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT),13 a non-governmental

organization registered in South Africa. SPT compiled

information from independent interviews with 414

Zimbabwean victims of human rights abuses during

March, April and May 2007, including targeted

attacks against the leadership of the MDC and the

civic movement in Zimbabwe. In 90% of the attacks

the perpetrators involved government agencies such

as the police and Central Intelligence Organization

(CIO). MDC activists and leaders were frequently

targeted outside of police stations, and at times they

were taken from their homes. Eighty percent of the 414

interviewees in SPT's report had physical injuries, and

in all of these cases corroborating medical evidence

was documented. Soft tissue injuries were particularly

frequent, as were body aches and headaches, sleep

disturbances, anxiety and depression. Thirty percent of

these 414 individuals reported being victims of torture.

Access to necessary medical care for victims of political

violence was also a significant concern following

the events of March 11th. On March 13, 2007 ZADHR

reported:14

9. Human Rights Watch. Bashing Dissent: Escalating Violence

and State Repression in Zimbabwe. May 2007. Available at:

http://hrw.org/reports/2007/zimbabwe0507/.

10. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwean

Association of Doctors for Human Rights. A Brief Report of

Human Rights Violations in Zimbabwe since March 11 2007.

Submitted to the African Commission on Human and

People's rights, May 2007. Also see following website for

several reports/statements relating to political violence since

March 11 2007: http://kubatana.net

11. Ibid.

12. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. http://www.

hrforumzim.com.

13. Solidarity Peace Trust. Destructive Engagement: Violence,

Mediation and Politics in Zimbabwe. Johannesburg, South

Africa: Solidarity Peace Trust. July 10 2007. Available at:

http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org.

14. Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights.

Update on denial of access to treatment of detained activists.

March 13 2007. Available at: http://www.kubatana.net/

It is systematic. It is not random. It is not the use of

torture by police who are overzealous. It is not that there

was a demonstration and things got out of hand and this

is what happened. This is not the case. As we speak now,

there is still a stream of people who are specifically being

targeted.

A Bulawayo-based healthcare worker said:

We are concerned about more violence because the last

time we had any violence—the destruction of homes—it

started from Harare and then came here and it was very

severe. If it happened there, it will happen here. We are

an opposition region. If there is a campaign, it wants to

destroy any opposition. We are bound to suffer from that

violence as well. Because we are a region that has always

been opposed to the government in that manner the

government is likely to destroy us before the elections.


Following the disruption of the peaceful demonstrations

in Harare on March 11, 2007, torture and political

violence has escalated, much of it aimed at prominent

opposition leaders, particularly those affiliated with

the MDC. Several of these leaders, including Sekai

Holland and Grace Kwinje, senior MDC officials, were

evacuated to South Africa for medical care. The political

violence did not stop with these leaders, however,

raising concerns that the government has launched a

methodical campaign to eliminate any trace of political

opposition in Zimbabwe.

A human rights activist observed, "Zimbabwe allows

someone into parliament and then tortures them with

impunity. There hasn't been one single individual

charged."

Dr. Matchaba-Hove, who served as Chairperson of the

Zimbabwe Election Support Network from 2001-April

2007 predicted:


Violence will have a lot of effect on the outcome of the

election. Firstly it is a tool of intimidation. By beating

up people like Tsvangirai they are sending the message

that no one is safe. And when word gets out into the

rural areas that you are not safe, this will have enormous

impact. There is already intimidation in past elections by

local tribal leaders who are loyal to the government—if

you don't vote for the government party you won't get

food aid. The president of the Chief's council Senator

Charumbira went even a step further and said traditional

elders should evict those who vote for the opposition.

So if you go into a situation next year, where you are

already expecting drought, in a hotly contested election,

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 9

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights

condemns the denial of access to medical treatment of

detained opposition and civic leaders that are in need

of urgent medical attention. ZADHR has been denied

access to those concerned since their arrest on the

morning of Sunday 11 March 2007. Denial of access to

treatment continues to violate the rights of those detained

and threatens their lives.

Notwithstanding a High Court order granted at 8:1_pm

on Monday 12 March 2007 compelling the police to

grant legal and medical access to those detained, the

Zimbabwe Republic Police has denied access to the

injured activities in defiance of the court order. Medical

practitioners that attempted to access those in need of

medical treatment on the night of Monday 12 March

following the granting of the court order were denied

access.

ZADHR remains concerned that the condition of those

who sustained injuries as a result of torture and assault

may be worsened by delayed access to medical treatment.

It is crucial that all those in need of medical attention be

transferred to a medical facility that affords them the best

possible medical care immediately.

Medical Organizations in Africa and internationally

have spoken out against human rights abuses in

Zimbabwe in recent months as well as delays in access

to medical care for victims of political violence and

harassment of Zimbabwean doctors assisting these

victims.

In April 2007, the South African Medical Association

issued the following statement:

Recent events of violence and human rights abuse in

Zimbabwe have grabbed the attention of the world press.

As the South African Medical Association (SAMA), we

condemn any form of human rights abuse and cannot

remain silent on such issues," said SAMA Chairperson,

Dr Kgosi Letlape, in response to international headlines

on the Zimbabwe situation.


SAMA has always advocated for the protection and

promotion of human rights, irrespective of individuals'

political affiliations. "The allegations relating to denial of

access to health care are serious since this is a fundamental

html/archive/hr/070313zadhr.asp?orgcode=zim065&year=0

&range_start=1

human right and entitlement of every person," Letlape said.

The Medical Association is aware of the plight of the

people of Zimbabwe not only through media headlines,

but also through the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors

for Human Rights (ZADHR). ZADHR has highlighted

events where doctors in Zimbabwe are being victimised

and prevented from treating political victims of human

rights abuses.


Doctors' autonomy and independence is a firm principle

which is entrenched in national and international

policies, such as the World Medical Association Code

of Medical Ethics and Declaration on Professional

Autonomy and Self Regulation. "The Hippocratic Oath

will not allow us to compromise these principles," Letlape

continued, "and doctors in all countries must be allowed

to treat patients in need of medical attention, and to

practise medicine without the fear of violence."


SAMA, like other National Medical Associations, have

an essential role to play in calling attention to any

human rights violations. Letlape urged, "The United

Nations' Charter and the Universal Declaration on

Human Rights, of which Zimbabwe is a signatory

country, must be upheld."1_

In October 2007, the World Medical Association

(WMA) adopted a resolution on health and human

rights abuses in Zimbabwe which included calling on

its affiliated national medical associations to publicly

denounce all human rights abuses and violations of

the right to health in Zimbabwe, and actively protect

physicians who are threatened or intimidated for

actions which are part of their ethical and professional

obligations. The WMA resolution also encouraged the

Zimbabwean Medical Association (ZiMA) to commit

to eradicating torture and inhumane, degrading

treatment of citizens in Zimbabwe and reaffirm their

support for the clinical independence of physicians.16

Zimbabwean President Mugabe's response to the

torture and political violence following March 11 has

been to attempt to justify it. "If they (protest) again,

we will bash them again," he declared in a speech in

response to the March 11th violence, "We hope they

have learned a lesson. If they have not, they will get

15. South African Medical Association. Press Release: SAMA

speaks out against human rights abuses. April 5 2007

16. World Medical Association. Resolution on Health and

Human Rights Abuses in Zimbabwe. Adopted by the WMA

General Assembly, Copenhagen, Denmark, October 2007.

Available at: http://www.wma.net/e/policy/a29.htm.

10 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

similar treatment," he said later. Regarding the beating

of MDC President Tsvangirai he said: "Yes, I told the

African heads of state he was beaten, but he asked for

it. I told the police, beat him a lot. He and his MDC

must stop their terrorist activities."17

Medical documentation provides corroborating

evidence of torture and abuse.18 A number of

Zimbabwean health professionals have developed

extensive expertise and are internationally recognized

for their work in documenting and caring for victims

of torture and political violence. In mid-April,

ZADHR19 reported that following March 11, 2007, at

least 49 individuals required hospitalization as a result

of injuries from torture and political violence and

an additional 175 individuals had been treated and

discharged. Injuries included soft tissue injuries, head

injuries, fractures and gun shot wounds.20 International

medical organizations, including the International

Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)21 and

Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark22 have also

documented several cases of torture in Zimbabwe in

the past.

Ours is the first investigation of political violence

conducted by international health experts since the

March 11, 2007 prayer meeting. Our findings support

17. Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum. Their Words Condemn

them: The language of Violence, Intolerance and Despotism

in South Zimbabwe. May 2007. Available at: http://www.

hrforumzim.com/frames/inside_frame_special.htm.

18. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner

for Human Rights. The Istanbul Protocol. Available at:

http://www.ohchr.org/english/about/publications/

docs/8rev1.pdf; Iacopino V, Allden K, Keller A. Examining

Asylum Seekers. A Health Professional's Guide to Medical and

Psychological Evaluations of Torture. Boston: Physicians for

Human Rights; 2001.

19. For a complete list of publications/documents prepared

by ZADHR see http://www.kubatana.net/html/sectors/

zim065.asp?like=Z&details=Tel&orgcode=zim065

20. Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights.

Update on Assaults, Torture and Health Rights Violations Since

March 11 2007. April 15 2007. Available at: http://www.

kubatana.net/html/archive/hr/070415zadhr.asp?orgcode=z

im065&year=0&range_start=1.

21. IRCT. Organised Violence in Zimbabwe. June 2000. Available

at: http://www.hrforumzim.com/members_reports/

irct000606/irct000606e8.htm.

22. Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark. The Presidential

Election: 44 days to go. January 2002. Available at: http://

www.solidaritypeacetrust.org/reports/pres_election.pdf.

the assertions of other organizations that there has

been an upsurge in state violence since March 2007.

This report contains credible first-hand testimony from

Zimbabweans who have suffered torture and political

violence since March 2007 and provides evidence

that the Zimbabwean government is systematically

deploying torture and violence as a means of deterring

political opposition, with devastating consequences for

health and human rights.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 11

IV. TRAUMA EXPERIENCED

BY INVESTIGATION

PARTICIPANTS

Nature of Traumatic Events

Experienced

All 24 of the victims reported a history of torture/

political violence within the past year. Twenty (83%)

had experienced torture/political violence on or

since March 11, 2007 (See Table 2: History of Political

Violence/Torture). More than half (63%) reported

experiencing torture/political violence prior to March

2007 as well. All reported a substantial fear of further

violence in the period after March 11, 2007.

Individuals interviewed reported having been

subjected to a number of different forms of physical

torture/abuse (See Chapter V), most commonly

beatings with fists, kicking with boots, or beatings

with objects (shambocks, whips, gun butts). One

particularly common form of torture was falanga--

beatings on the soles of the feet.

Other physical forms of torture/abuse reported

included being shot; stabbed with knives or other

sharp objects; having food, water and basic medical

care withheld; being forced into contact with urine,

feces, and sewage; and being subjected to electrical

shocks.

Individuals also reported a variety of psychological

abuses including verbal abuse, threats to themselves

and their loved ones, and humiliations such as being

forced to undress or drink urine.

Commonly reported perpetrators of torture/political

violence included the police, members of the Central

Intelligence Organization (CIO), "War Veterans," and

ZANU-PF Youth. More than half of the individuals

interviewed (63%) reported having been jailed because

of their political activities. Another 21% reported

a history of being abducted by groups, such as the

Central Intelligence Organization, ZANU-PF Youth,

and War Veterans (see Table 3: Trauma History,

and Chapter V). All of the individuals who were

imprisoned or abducted reported a history of torture.

Health Consequences of Torture/

Political Violence Experienced

All 24 of the individuals examined had clear,

corroborating physical evidence of their torture/abuse.

All continued to suffer from significant physical and

psychological symptoms as a result of their torture/

abuse (See Table 3 and Chapter VI).

In addition to clinical interviews, profound

psychological distress was confirmed by standardized

psychological measures (the Harvard Trauma

Questionnaire for posttraumatic stress disorder

–PTSD- and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25

for depression and anxiety). These measures were

completed by 18 of the 24 individuals evaluated.

Eighty nine percent reported substantial symptoms

of anxiety, 83% reported substantial symptoms of

depression and 76% reported substantial symptoms of

PTSD (See Tables 4 and 5 and Chapter VI).

Many injuries led to persistent pain that was

aggravated by delayed or inadequate access to

healthcare (See Chapter VII).

Among the 15 individuals who were jailed, 7 reported

significant delays in receiving needed medical care

while in custody, and 6 reported being denied legal

services while in custody (see Chapter VII).

12 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

V. STATE SPONSORED

TORTURE AND VIOLENCE

AFTER MARCH 11

Since the events of March 11, 2007, the Zimbabwean

government has brutally and systematically sought

to suppress political opposition with state sponsored

torture and political violence. This was confirmed

in detailed medical/forensic evaluations of 24

Zimbabwean victims of torture and political violence

as well as in interviews with non governmental

organizations, human rights advocates and health

professionals. The violence is targeted not only at

prominent leaders of the political opposition but at

ordinary citizens as well.

Under Zimbabwe's own constitution torture is

illegal.1 Article 15 of the Zimbabwean Constitution

states: "No person shall be subjected to torture or

to inhuman or degrading punishment or other such

treatment." Additionally, Zimbabwe is a signatory

to a number of international treaties, including the

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

and the African Charter on Human and People's

Rights that forbid torture and other cruel inhuman or

degrading treatment or punishment.2

Political Violence and the Events of

March 11

On March 11, 2007, the MDC held a prayer meeting in

Highfield, just outside Harare. The following accounts

relate to the subsequent torture and political violence

perpetrated against individuals who attended the

prayer meeting.

1. Constitution of Zimbabwe, Articles 15. Available at:

http://www.kubatana.net/docs/legisl/constitution_zim_

070201.doc

2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

adopted December 16, 1966, G.A. res. 2200A (XX1), 21 U.N.

GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A.6316 (1966), 999

U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force March 23, 1976, acceded to

by Zimbabwe, May 13, 1991, Article 7; African Charter on

Human and People's Rights, adopted June 27, 1981, OAU doc.

CAB/LEG/67/3rev.5.21.l.LM.58 (1982), entered into force

October 21, 1986, ratified by Zimbabwe in 1986, Article 5.

The case of KF

KF, an MDC leader and organizer of the March 11 rally

described the scene as follows:

Unfortunately before the prayer meeting could start,

we saw police details all over the place. They ordered

us to disperse, claiming we are not coming for a prayer

meeting but a political meeting. As we resisted, they

started beating us. They indiscriminately started beating

people with clubs, using tear gas. Then there were some

water cannons. So there was confusion all over the place.

KF described subsequent indiscriminate shooting

by police, including witnessing MDC member, Gift

Tandare, shot and killed:

They started firing live ammunition into the crowd.

Eventually, they shot Gift Tandare in front of me. I tried

to help him but it was too late. From then, I could see that

he was dead. I called his name, but he could not respond.

I told my other colleagues that our friend has died.

When KF learned that MDC president Morgan

Tsvangirai had been arrested and beaten, he went to

the police station where Mr. Tsvangirai was being held:

When I asked why the president was being beaten, I

was also beaten severely [by police] with sticks, the

butt of the gun, and kicked with boots. As they beat

me they said 'We are beating you for trying to unseat

the government.' We were detained there overnight,

myself and the others. Then the following day we were

transferred to the Harare Central Police Station. Then

we were again tortured, this time by members of CIO

(Central Intelligence Organization). They were in plain

clothes. We were in their office at the time. This time,

they beat me in my genitals, with a small rubber stick.

I was ordered to remove all of my clothes. They beat me

and wanted me to testify on other plans that the MDC

was engaging in.

While he was in custody, KF was blindfold and

forced to drink a liquid that he thinks was urine.

Subsequently, KF was released without any charge.

KF also described three previous severe beatings

related to his political activities. Following his most

recent beating, KF continued to suffer from frequent

headaches. He also noted decreased hearing in one of

his ears, having injured his ear when he was thrown

against a wall. Physical examination revealed multiple

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 13

scars consistent with the events he described. This

included several well-healed thin linear scars from

the stab wounds, as well as multiple scars on his back

and a smooth indented scar on his left anterior lower

leg, consistent with an injury from being kicked. A

perforation in his left tympanic membrane (ear drum)

was noted and hearing in his left ear is decreased

compared to the right.

Fearing for his safety, KF remained in hiding following

his most recent abuse. Government authorities

continued to come to his house looking for him:

They threatened my family, almost on a daily basis. They

came to investigate trying to find out my whereabouts.

They said to my wife if she was not going to reveal my

whereabouts, they would arrest her, until I surrendered

myself to the police.

KF suffered from a number of psychological

symptoms of depression and post traumatic stress

disorder (PTSD) including feelings of sadness,

difficulty sleeping and frequent nightmares. He is

intensely worried about his family:

The trouble that my family is facing is very upsetting

to me. I am the provider for the family. In nightmares,

I imagine being beaten again in the police cells. I think

about it a lot when I am awake too.

The case of RP

RP is another victim of the political violence on March

ll. RP is a 35 year old male who works for the MDC

and who described being with Morgan Tsvangirai

when he went to a police station to visit other MDC

supporters who had been arrested:

When we had arrived, we were outside the police

station and we were mobbed by police officers, who

were shouting vulgar words at the MDC president.

Because they were advancing toward us we ran into the

police station.... we saw all the other MDC supporters

and civic organizers. They were all lying down and

being beaten, including Sekai Holland, Grace Kwinje,

Tendai Biti (the Secretary General), Nelson Chamisa

the Information and Publicity officer for the MDC,

and Lovemore Maduku the Chairman of the National

Constitutional Assembly. They were all lying down face

down being beaten by many police officers. I saw this

with my own eyes. They were using all sorts of weapons

like shambocks (whips), sticks and some metal iron bars.

When we arrived there, Mr. Tsvangirai was told to lie

down. He was forced to lie down. And immediately before

he lied down, a female police officer started to beat him,

and the rest joined in. They said 'You are the leader of

these people and we want you to tell Blair and George

Bush to remove the sanctions and to tell them they must

leave Zimbabwe alone.'

Subsequently RP was beaten himself:

They started beating me all over my body. They beat

me on the head, on the ribs on the shoulder-everywhere

all over the body, with the sticks iron bars, some were

jumping on my ribs to the extent that I passed out 3

times. Then they told me, 'You must go and tell the

MDC supporters that the only president is Mugabe.

Tsvangirai is not the president.'

Violence Against MDC Members and Local

Organizers: The Cases of CJ and SP

Violence on March 11 was directed at local MDC

organizers and ordinary citizens in addition to

prominent MDC leaders. For example, CJ, a thirty

year old woman and an MDC member who holds no

position with the MDC, was with a group of people

planning to attend the public prayer service when she

was arrested.

We were taken by the police to the Highfield police

station. They were accusing us of being Tony Blair's

people and they wanted the money given by Tony Blair.

I was hit all over the body. I was lying down on the

ground. They would beat you harder if you cried out. I

was beaten with iron bars, batons and open hands. After

one hour we were taken to Central police station. I was

already in great pain. We spent all day at Central police

station. I was not beaten there.

Subsequently, CJ was taken to another police station

where she was held for 3 days.

Then they were shouting at us there 'What do you get

from Morgan Tsvangirai?' We were not given water or

food for 3 days... We were in separate cells. I asked for

food, and they said 'No you are not given food.' There

was no bed, I slept on the floor. I was in great pain. I had

pain all over my body. There were no blankets. I wished I

would just die because I was in such pain.

In addition to suffering pain, CJ also described having

blisters on her legs and bruises on her back from the

beatings. At the time of evaluation, CJ continued to

14 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

suffer from pain in her legs and difficulty walking.

She had lost 10kg. She described feelings of

fearfulness, difficulty sleeping and concentrating

and frightening memories of her abuse. She

appeared numb and demoralized with slow, weak

speech and gestures, avoidant eye contact and

slouched posture. She provided limited details or

spontaneous expression during the interview and

presented as profoundly depressed:

I still have the memories of what happened, especially

when I see police. I am afraid. I have nightmares

nearly every night about what happened in the police

station. I am crying. Whenever I hear footsteps

outside, I feel scared, and I jump. When I was in the

cells, I felt the death spirit. That thought still comes

back to me.

Physical examination confirmed the beatings she

described. Multiple linear hyperpigmented (i.e.

darker than the surrounding skin) scars were

present on her back. She had multiple nodular scars

on her legs and a prominent scar on her left leg at

the site of her skin graft. Her gait was somewhat

unsteady, and she had difficulty bearing weight on

her left leg.

Another MDC member, SP, who is a local MDC

organizer, was also arrested on March 11. Prior

to March 2007, SP had been arrested and tortured

approximately 10 times. On March 11, 2007, SP was

arrested near Highfield along with several other

MDC members:

We were taken to Harare Central Police Station. Then

they started questioning us. They took me to a back

room and they came with the electric cords, and put

the cord on my penis and shocked me for a second. I

never received such a pain especially on my penis. It

was terrible. They were saying 'Why were you going

to the rally? Who authorized you to do?' They shocked

me two times. They didn't beat me so much, but the

electricity was very painful.

SP remained in jail for 3 days. Before being released,

SP was ordered to pay a fine for inciting people to

attend the rally, which SP noted had been allowed

by the Zimbabwean High Court. Subsequently,

SP reported he had learned that the CIO had been

looking for him and other local leaders on suspicion

of being involved in petrol bombings of police

stations, which he denied:

They arrested more than 12 activists and they are still in

prison. After they put them in prison, they tortured those

guys. We saw pictures of them in the court and we saw

the pictures they had blood and swollen heads...They are

torturing and making sure you won't do anything. In the

past- in 2000- I was forced to sign an affidavit, putting

allegations on myself-like beating police officers. They

were not truthful.

Fearing for his safety SP fled to South Africa:

If I go back they will definitely arrest and torture me. If

they arrest me, they will definitely torture me until I say

what they want me to say-that we were doing all of those

activities-I wasn't doing any of that.

SP described experiencing chronic pain in his right leg

and hand since they were broken by police in incidents

when he was arrested prior to 2007. He also frequently

experienced headaches. He was haunted by memories

of his trauma:

I have bad dreams especially these days. It is terrible

I dream about all the people being beaten. I feel very

nervous. I am afraid even of my shadow walking in the

street.

I'm very worried for my family. They can do anything.

Last time they beat my wife, she had a miscarriage. I

haven't been able to communicate with my family. What

they are doing is trying to put people who are influential

in prison so they can't do anything and then beat them.

When I was arrested, in March, they said 'We will make

sure that you never lead this country because you never

went to war.'

On physical examination, SP was found to have

a scar on his forehead and a well healed smooth

elliptical hyperpigmented scar on the back of his right

wrist consistent with the history of the beatings he

described.

Violence by Perpetrators Other Than the

Police: The Case of YD

Police were by no means the only ones perpetrating

violence on March 11. YD, a 29 year old male who

worked in the national MDC office was stopped by

police at a road block en route to the prayer rally at

Highfield. He was subsequently turned over by the

police to members of the Youth militia:

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 15

When we got there the roads were sealed and the police

were beating people with baton sticks and the butt of

the guns. I saw this. We were stopped by police officers

and then taken by guys in civilian clothes. One of them

showed us an official card of the youth militia and asked

if I had one (he did not). I was handcuffed by the police

with my hands behind my back the moment I was taken

from the roadblock. The police put the handcuffs on and

turned me over to the youth group.

Subsequently, YD was taken by the 6 men in civilian

clothes to the Southerton police station:

They had guns. Then they made us stay outside the police

station, and waiting for a vehicle. Then we were taken in

a vehicle to another place. I was blindfolded. They were

shouting telling me, 'You are going to meet Tsvangirai in

hell. Tsvangirai is also dying. Tsvangirai is being beaten

right now, who are you? We understand Tsvangirai is

causing trouble, we have been given information that you

have been trained to fight the government, and it was

part of the strategy to destabilize the country. Therefore

you are a sellout for Tsvangirai.'

At the second location, YD was placed alone in a room.

He was forced to remove all his clothing except his

underwear. His blindfold was removed, but his hands

were still cuffed behind his back. Then he was beaten:

They hit me with the baton sticks all over my body,

including my shoulders and on the bottom of my feet. I

was very weak. They said, 'This person won't talk, we

must try some other means.' They said, 'Do you know

what is torture?' A woman came into the room. She said

'I am a mother-I can't accept this kind of beating.' They

put my head inside her dress and said 'What do you see?'

I said I can't see anything. They kept saying 'Why are

you saying nothing?' and kept beating me, so I said I can

see red pants. Then the lady hit me very hard across my

face and said 'You are telling people what I am wearing.'

YD was told that his torturers had information about

him and his family, including where his parents lived

and that his sister was a government employee. He

reported that his sister had previously been harassed

at work as a result of his activities. He was told that if

he gave them information about the MDC, he and his

family would not be hurt. Otherwise, they would be

harmed:

They told me the name of my father, my mother, and

where my sister worked. They said we know everything

about your family. So you must know your life is really

shit, either for you or your family. If you don't tell us

what we want to know –they wanted to know about the

MDC and what it was planning.


Subsequently YD was hit on the head and lost

consciousness:

The next thing that I remember, I woke up. I was lying

along the road outside of Harare. I was now wearing

my clothes. I was soaked with blood. I suspect that they

thought I was dead. Somebody who was driving along the

road shook me and I woke up. They told me I am badly

injured. I looked at my clothes. I could feel too much pain

from my head and I had a very big wound.

YD described significant difficulty obtaining medical

care for his head wound. (See Chapter VII)

Subsequently, he learned that authorities were looking

for him:

My [relative] got a message that there were some people

at my place looking for me and wanting to arrest me

saying I was involved in the violence and part of the

people who had dropped petrol bombs [on police stations].

But I was being beaten by those people at the time when

the bombing happened.

Fearing for his safety, YD decided to leave for South

Africa. His family was also living in hiding. "I sent

them to the rural area because their life was in danger.

We couldn't stay together."

After his beatings, YD continued to suffer from

frequent headaches, chronic dizziness, poor vision

and back pain. He also experienced psychological

symptoms including difficulty sleeping, frequent

nightmares and feeling easily startled.

On physical examination, he had several well healed

scars on his back and legs consistent with the beatings

he described. There was point tenderness over the

lumbosacral region (lower back). On the left posterior

aspect of his skull was a large open ulceration (6 1⁄2

centimeter by 4 centimeters), with granulation tissue.

Violence Against Women

Five of the victims of torture and political violence

whom we interviewed were women. This is consistent

with other recent reports of state-sponsored gender

based violence in Zimbabwe. For example, in a July

16 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

2007 report by Solidarity Peace Trust3 presenting

information on 414 Zimbabwean victims of political

violence in March, April and May 2007, 24% were

women. A recent report by Amnesty International4

also highlighted the increasing number of women

subjected to torture and violence as a result of their

political activities.

Noted Zimbabwean public health expert, Dr.

Matchaba-Hove:

Women have been turning out in larger numbers for

leadership positions in the opposition. Women have

been able to reach across the political divide to deal

with issues not only pertaining to the representation

of women in governance, but also on how to resolve

the crisis in Zimbabwe. My guess is that there is a

sense that some of these women have been the key in

mobilizing for the opposition; so disable them and the

opposition is significantly affected.

The following two cases illustrate such gender based

violence.

The case of Sekai Holland_

Sekai Holland is a 64-year old woman in baseline

good health who is a prominent MDC leader. She is

active in her district and nationally in party politics,

strategy, and activism including the prayer meeting

scheduled for March 11th. She reported careful

planning on the part of party leaders on how to use

non-violent techniques to critique the ZANU-PF

government. Party leadership agreed to be present

and risk being jailed at the demonstration. She

explained, "The Women's Assembly met and said

we must find a strategy to lead any function we have

where there is bashing up."

3. Solidarity Peace Trust. Destructive Engagement: Violence,

Mediation and Politics in Zimbabwe. Johannesburg, South

Africa: Solidarity Peace Trust. July 10, 2007. Available at:

http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org.

4. Amnesty International. Zimbabwe. Between a rock and a hard

place-women human rights defenders at risk. July 2007. Available

at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR460172

007?open&of=ENG-ZWE

5. Ms. Holland was interviewed for this report in her

hospital room in Johannesburg, South Africa on April 26,

2007

So we met on March 11 at the YMCA. As we got out,

the militia was coming to the YMCA. They were going

in, we were going out. When we got to Highfield, the

police told us not to come. But we agreed to have a prayer

meeting. So we told the police we are going to have a

prayer meeting.

Police then arrested them before the prayer meeting

had begun:

So we were made to lie down in an L shape. There were

about 60 of us, and the militia started to beat us up...

There was one woman with boots who was jumping on

the women. She made a hole on me which required plastic

surgery. She was calling us prostitutes of Tony Blair.

Ms. Holland described that once Morgan Tsvangirai

had arrived the police began calling their names and

torturing them individually:

I got up, and when I was called there were _ men...

and I was standing in the center, and each was holding

a different instrument, and several men hit me. I said,

why are you hitting me? They said, you are Tony Blair's

prostitute...When we got out I was hit on the back. And

they said, 'hit her on the buttocks a lot.' When I got into

the charge office, they kept beating me. So I went out

of the charge office being hit on the back and hit on the

front. I had this done to me three times. A woman said

'sit there.' Several men came to hit me.

They had broken my glasses and my watch. They said,

'Do you want these? I took the glasses and put them in

my shoes. They said, 'She is still using her hands.' And

so now they were breaking my left hand. And then we

were told to go. [Someone] said, 'I think you have broken

your feet.'

At this point a large truck arrived to carry the

arrested activists. When some younger demonstrators

attempted to help Ms. Holland to the truck, they were

beaten. "[The police] made us lie down on the truck,

face down. It was very hot, it was late afternoon.

People started to vomit. I had diarrhea. All of us were

bleeding."

The arrested were taken to a central police station:

Before, I felt the first strike. After that I didn't feel any

pain in my body. They made me lie on the grass. Holding

the grass gave me comfort. What I remember is this

multistory building. Police lined every window. There

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 17

was not one smile, they were all very grim. They were

very upset.

The prisoners were then transported to various police

stations. Ms. Holland made an effort to be dropped

at the first station because she felt so ill. "At every

station they took off a CIO (Central Intelligence

Organization officer). They went to different police

stations, dropping different people off." At the jail she

requested to use the toilet. "I knew if we were not to

be killed this was the time to drink a lot of water and

wash myself."

We were then taken into the cell. [Another prisoner] was

so shocked by my condition. She took from the prison

blankets and cleaned me. A woman dragged me and got

me something to drink... In the morning, she went to

court; I was left alone.

Ms. Holland said the police in the jail spoke to her

saying, "You know how you were injured you fell

from the truck." She remained in a lice-infested cell for

3 days before she was brought to court with the others.

There, lawyers insisted that the injured prisoners be

brought to the hospital for treatment.

Initially only a select few were to be taken to the

hospital but Morgan Tsvangirai refused to go unless

they were all taken for evaluation of their injuries.

Ultimately Ms. Holland and Mr. Tsvangirai required

treatment in the Intensive Care Unite. Ms. Holland

had a broken arm, a broken leg, several broken ribs,

and severe soft tissue injury to a hand. She required

surgical treatment of the leg fracture and ultimately

her doctors recommended transfer to a South African

hospital. In Johannesburg she had three additional

operations including skin grafts and additional rods

placed in her broken leg. She required transfer to a

rehabilitation facility given the severity of her injuries

and length of her hospital stay.

During her hospitalization in South Africa Ms.

Holland reported having plain-clothes CIO visit her

room looking for another Zimbabwean victim. She

described fearfulness and insomnia from then on. "I

had to sleep with the buzzer beside my head."

Ms. Holland described symptoms of numbing,

insomnia, and hyperarousal. "I know I should be

angry, scared but I can't feel anything." She appeared

physically tired but alert and agitated. She was afraid

to be left alone.

Ms. Holland began the interview by stating, "The

MDC has finally realized if we shut our eyes, the

world will go to sleep and we will all die." When

asked if she planned to return to Zimbabwe she said,

"I want to get well. I left my house to go to a prayer

meeting. The worst would be if they beat me and I

never went back."

The case of DR

DR is a 62 year old woman who holds a district-

level administrative position in the MDC party.

Approximately 1 week after the March 11 prayer rally,

she was arrested along with approximately 10 other

women while visiting her daughter who had been

injured in the March 11th events:

We were ambushed and police started firing bullets

into the air outside the house. We told the police we

had come to see [my] injured daughter. Two young

kids [who were in the vicinity] ran away and they beat

up one young boy with bare hands. They were beating

the kid up saying you should tell where the rest of the

women live. We were forced into [a truck] and driven

to the police station. Several attempted to jump from

the truck and were beaten up. One woman fell on her

face.

DR was taken to a police station without being given

any explanation for their arrest:

We obeyed what they said, we were very afraid because

the police had guns and batons. We were all put in a

holding cell, 11 of us, two with children on our backs,

there was no light it was dark. Some of the women who

had been beaten up were crying...No one slept, we were

sitting on the floor and there was nowhere to sleep.


She described being taken for interrogation one at a

time and hearing the screams of other women before

being taken in for her own interrogation. "They told

us they would beat us and use electricity, the woman

returned so badly beaten she could not stand on her

own."

Of her own interrogation DR said:

After they could not get any information from me they

began beating the bottom of my feet with a baton, I

tried to escape by going under a table and they beat

my back and bottom with a baton. They were accusing

me of bombing one of the police stations and if I

18 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

didn't give enough information they were going to use

electricity on me. I was very afraid and I thought I was

going to die. It was extremely painful I could not walk

on my feet I could not sit I was actually crawling when

they ordered me to go back.

Three days after being arrested, DR and the other

women were released with the assistance of an

attorney who had previously been prevented from

meeting with them (see Chapter VII). They were

required to pay an admission of guilt fine, even

though, "The police could not give a reason why we

were arrested, just following orders."

DR was subsequently taken to a local clinic where she

was treated for swollen, painful feet and lacerations

on the back and buttocks. She said she could not sit

or walk with swelling persisting for about a week.

She continued to experience pain in her back and

under her feet when walking. She also reported

several weeks of crying and "constant fear they would

come back" that has now subsided. She continued to

have difficulty sleeping with occasional nightmares

and flashbacks and frequent chest pain believed to

be anxiety. She said, "There was one hole to use as

a toilet and since then I have lost my appetite. My

clothes don't fit anymore."

On physical examination over one month after her

abuse, she had a resolving large bruise over the right

buttock and bilateral tender soles of her feet with

residual swelling. Her symptoms of acute stress had

improved which she attributed to avoiding thoughts

of the beating and relying on support from church. She

remarked, "I feel very beat up because I was beaten up

for no apparent reason."

Violence and the Funeral of Gift

Tandare

Political violence continued at the funeral of MDC

member, Gift Tandare, who was shot and killed by

police at the March 11 prayer meeting. Several of those

interviewed reported being victims of violence while

gathering to attend his funeral.

The case of KP

KP, a male in his 20s who is active as a local organizer

in the MDC Party, was one of the individuals injured

following Gift Tandare's death. He was with a crowd

of people gathering outside of Tandare's home for

his funeral when police arrived. "The police started

beating people," KP told us:

As I tried to run away, I was shot in the arm. Another

guy next to me was shot on the ankle. The police just

arrived and didn't give any warning. They started

hitting people with sticks and then started shooting and

people started running away.

As KP fled the scene a bullet grazed his arm. He

sought medical care and his wound was cleaned and

bandaged. Subsequently, he returned to the home

where the funeral was. "It was safer to go to the

funeral than stay at home, because I know the police

were already looking for me. I was scared to go home.

I still don't go home."

KP described the following:

I went back to the funeral, the police came back late in

the evening. Again the police started beating people and

shouting 'What are you doing? Just go away.' So the

people started running away. As I am starting to move, I

just tried to run away. I was shot twice in the same arm.

One of the bones was coming out of my skin.

KP had been shot a second time. He required several

operations in the ensuing weeks. He continued

to have significant weakness in the fingers of the

twice-injured arm. Physical examination confirmed

decreased strength and sensation in several of his

fingers.

KP described frequent nightmares (1-2 times per

week) about the events of his and Tandare's shooting.

"I have nightmares about what happened, and when

I am awake I think a lot about it. If somebody drops a

bottle I jump and am easily startled." He said he slept

on average only 1-2 hours per night. He appeared

relaxed except when discussing the memories of

being shot and chased, when he suddenly appeared

withdrawn, tense and moody. His fluctuations in

mood and reported hyperarousal were consistent

with signs of PTSD.

The case of GK

GK is a male in his 40's who serves as a local District

MDC organizer. He described being beaten while

attending Gift Tandare's funeral:

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 19

The police came with a truck and I still remember there

were police with guns and other with baton sticks. As

they approached where we were, they started shooting

into the people. I saw one man shot. He was running

away. He was not doing anything to threaten the police

in any way.

Many people ran away. For the approximately 20 who

remained, GK described the following:

The police ordered us to lie down on the ground and

started beating us. The beatings were so vigorous. They

would hit the head and the chest, using police boots,

baton sticks and gun butts. We were lying face down,

and most of the injuries happened when we were lying

down. The beatings continued for about 30 minutes. The

police were yelling 'What do you want here?'

Over the subsequent days GK continued to

experience pain, particularly in his left thumb, which

he subsequently learned was broken and required

surgery.

GK described difficulty sleeping and is haunted by

recurrent memories and nightmares of his beatings. "I

dream of bad things, those things that happened to me

keep coming back."

I am very very sad, this is my own country. The

government should be protecting me. If they are going

to torture us you don't feel safe. Not at all. They come

to your home. They come to your workplace. They come

to your hospital. I feel sad every day. The injury on my

thumb reminds me of the danger. I'm always looking to

see if I'm being watched. I try not to think about what

happened, but I can't help it.

On physical examination GK had multiple linear scars

on his back, legs and buttocks consistent with the

trauma he described. An x ray, which GK had in his

possession, showed surgical clips in his left thumb,

and an old fracture noted in the thumb.

Continued, Targeted Political

Violence

Violence continued in the weeks following the events

of March 11 and the funeral of Gift Tandare. Several

individuals noted their perception of more systematic

and sustained levels of violence continuing after

March 11. One MDC leader, LG, who was arrested, on

March 11 and severely beaten stated:

In the previous episodes, the government would react and

then stop. But now it is systematic. They've got a list6

and they are following up so they will go to your own

place even in the rural areas where you are. This time

it's much more systematic. It's more thorough. They are

leaving no stone unturned.

Before he was released 3 days later police warned LG

to stop his political activities:

They said 'We know everything that is happening in the

MDC. We know which meetings you have attended.'

And they said 'If you are going to come back here for any

other charge you will regret it.'

JT, an MDC member was arrested while attending the

funeral of Gift Tandare, who was shot and killed at the

March 11 prayer meeting. At the time of his arrest JT

was hit by a police officer who shouted at him: 'You

assholes think that (MDC President) Morgan will rule

this country. We are going to finish you all.'

Any association with the MDC, real or perceived,

meant the risk of assault or worse by police or

other government operatives. Lawyers observed a

shift in methods of detention and torture toward

more frequent arrests, attacks on lower level rank

and file members of the opposition, a more chaotic

manner of detention including late night arrests

and frequent transfers of victims from police station

to police station, as well as numerous charges of

terrorism. Otto Saki, an attorney with Zimbabwe

Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) noted:

What has been of concern to us as late, the acts

of torture being carried out is systematic. The

individuals becoming the victims of torture at first

were the high profile individuals. And now they are

going for the middle layer, the individual on the

ground...If you are going to target the lower level

key players, you are weakening the structure (of the

6. Reports of such lists have appeared in several on-line

Zimbabwean news forums. Ncube B. Tsvangirai tops

fresh hit list. ZimOnline. April 19, 2007. Available at: www.

zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=1246; Staff Writer.

Exposed! Mugabe's hit list. ZimDaily.Com. April 5, 2007.

Available at:

http://www.zimdaily.com/news/117/

ARTICLE/1529/2007-04-05.html.

20 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

political opposition). The core of the (MDC) party is

not in the leadership but in the core structure.

At present you have all these acts of torture being

carried out by the police and soldiers. It might even

give ZANU-PF the excuse to say these things are

being carried out in the day-to-day enforcement of

security. To them it's a way of saying they wash

their hands of involvement. That's our fear, within

ZANU-PF. They try on state sanctioned violence and

give that excuse that it is prosecution, but really its

persecution.

On March 20, 2007, Harvest House, the MDC

headquarters was raided by the police. CF, who is

involved in political organizing in his province, was

at Harvest House at the time of the raid:

They came in and took everyone who was there. About

300 people were arrested, including tenants there. We

were taken to the Central Police Station in Harare

and we were beaten thoroughly.

CF subsequently was able to escape, and fearing

for his safety went into hiding. RP, who visited

Harvest House shortly after the raid, described the

following:

I went into Harvest House, and I saw all the

destruction they had done there--destroying

computers, destroying party documents. The doors in

the office were all broken off. Everything was turned

upside down, and they took whatever documents they

saw there including birth certificates and passports.

And then I learned they were looking for me.

They arrested most of the workers at Harvest House,

many who are still in detention right now. And when

they raided Harvest House, they arrested the MDC

youth who were there and they beat them up at the

Harare police station. And it is there that they alleged

that some of the youth were being trained to make

petrol bombs. That is what the police are saying and

they have been forced to sign some affidavits that they

are involved in terrorist activities in Zimbabwe. But

we know it is false. These are being engineered by the

police. And then from there, they started looking for

me.

The following individual cases all took place during

this period following March 11 and the Tandare

funeral.

The case of FL

FL is a 25-year old man who is a member of the MDC

and works in a shop. In mid-March he and about

ten fellow employees were attacked by police while

closing up.

We were about 7 boys and 3 girls, including the

manager; they were riot police. We were trying to explain

to them we were closing, we are at work, but they just

didn't listen and were beating us with baton sticks, while

others were watching us with guns.

FL believed he was attacked because his workplace

is owned by an MDC member. During the attack,

the police said, "We know people at your shops are

MDC."

FL and several other employees were injured. "My

nose was bleeding and my left leg had a wound, and

my left hand was in severe pain." He reported that

they were afraid to go to the hospital because they

had heard CIO were looking for the injured at the

government hospitals. He went home and did not

return to work or seek medical attention for a week

because he was afraid and it was painful to walk:

I was very afraid even up to now. The police told us if

we told anyone the story they would track us down. So I

didn't go for help until the 20th because I couldn't walk.

When FL finally saw a doctor he was found to have a

broken hand requiring an operation to pin the bones.

At the time of our evaluation, his right ankle remained

swollen and painful. He appeared frightened and

had large fading bruises on his upper left thigh and

left calf. He had a raised healing scar on his left shin,

his right ankle was tender and had limited range of

motion due to pain. His hand remained in a bandage

post-surgery. He complained of trouble concentrating,

difficulty making decisions, fatigue, sadness and

anxiety. He showed poor grooming, poor eye contact,

and had evidence of ruminating, hopeless thinking

indicative of depression.

FL concluded the examination by explaining that he

couldn't decide whether or not to take his case to high

court because he was afraid he would be brought to

prison. He considered leaving the country to be the

safest option.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 21

Complicity of CIO, War Veterans, and

ZANU-PF Youth post March 11

In addition to police, groups frequently cited as

targeting individuals for political violence with

impunity following March 11th included the Central

Intelligence Organization (CIO), ZANU-PF war

veterans, and members of the ZANU-PF youth.7 In

many cases these groups were working directly with

the police.

The case of VM

VM, a 45-year old male, is an MDC organizer in his

District. Before March 2007, he was in good health

without physical or psychological problems. On March

11, he traveled from his city to Harare to participate in

the prayer rally. When he saw the violence there, he

turned around and returned home. Several days later

members of the CIO came to his home:

They knew who I was. They said come with us, they

didn't say why. There were 4 of them. They took me to

the (local) police station. On the way to the police station,

they stopped the vehicle, they took me to the bush, and

they beat me very hard all over my body, with fists and

sticks and boots. As they beat me they said 'You are the

one causing trouble. You cause the violence.' They said

they know me as an MDC organizer. They hit me on my

head and all over my body.

They had tied my hands with rope in the back of my arm

when they stopped the vehicle. Then they put me back

in the car, and drove to the central police in Bulawayo.

When they put me in the cell they said they would sort

me out. In the morning they took me to another office

and they continued to beat me. I was lying down on the

ground. There were 6 men and they were hitting me with

baton sticks. They said they were beating me because I

am a member of the MDC and that I had to resign from

the party.

7. While members of organizations such as the ZANU-PF

youth may wear characteristic uniforms, (e.g. ZANU-PF

youth often wear green military fatigues and are thus known

as "green bombers) community members in Zimbabwe are

typically aware of political affiliations i.e. who is a member

of which organization. This was confirmed in background

interviews with members of nongovernmental organizations

as well as in the interviews with victims of torture/political

violence. When an individual was unsure of who their

abusers were, this is stated.

Subsequently, VM was returned to a prison cell where

he remained for 3 days and was then released. He

was never formally charged with any crime. While

imprisoned, he was given food, but did not receive any

medical care for his injuries.

Abductions of the type described by VM were

reported by 5 of the 24 victims interviewed for this

report. All were known or suspected of being active

with the MDC.

The case of PG

PG is a 31-year old male who is a local MDC party

officer. PG had been arrested several times since 1999

because of his work as a local counselor for the MDC:

If anything happened in the area, I was arrested.

Always when arresting you they are threatening and

intimidating you and discouraging you from doing your

political activities. Sometimes they would say 'You will

die for nothing, you are too young, why don't you pursue

your private life and get out of politics- it is a dangerous

game.' This was said to me by the police. Sometimes I

was beaten but not too badly.

PG was abducted in late March after attending Gift

Tandare's memorial service:

I was in my friend's car and we decided to stop at a local

shopping center. My friend went out and was looking

for some things. When he came back, we saw a group of

men in civilian clothes surround our vehicle, and they

were calling out my name. They knew who I was. Then

they forcibly removed me from the car. There were about

10 men in plain clothes. I tried to resist, but eventually I

was overpowered. They grabbed me and threw me in the

back of a truck. Then a number of them jumped into the

truck. Immediately I was blindfolded. From then, they

drove away. I didn't know where I was going because I

was blindfolded.

On our way to the destination, they were interrogating

me. They wanted to know any information about the

MDC, what we were planning, what was my position.

They threatened me that I must give me as much

information as I could, otherwise, they were going to kill

me. Then they tied a string on my penis in the car. When

they wanted me to speak, they would pull the string so

I could feel the pain, and then I would cooperate. Then

we stopped. They changed the vehicle, and they stopped

again, and put us into another vehicle. And eventually,

they stopped it. And removed me from the car, and

22 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

made me lie down on the ground. At that time I didn't

know where I was-I was blindfolded and my hands were

tied. They removed all my clothes, I was naked except

underwear.

They asked me 'Do you want water?' I said yes, and

then they started urinating in my mouth and all over

my body. One of them was claiming he fought for this

country and he was accusing us of being agents of

imperialists-that we wanted this country to be colonized

again. Then they started to beat me all over the body. I

don't know with what because I was blindfolded, but I

suspect wooden sticks or iron bars or baton sticks. They

beat me all over, my back stomach, and legs,-particularly

my left leg. I don't think they kicked me. They were

just using those weapons. I started shivering. When

I started shivering they stopped beating me. I suspect

they thought I was dying. While beating me, they made

the same accusations- 'You are an imperialist and you

want this country to be colonized. You want ZANU-PF

to be removed from power.' And they also were asking

'why did I attend the memorial service of someone I was

not related to?' They threatened me that I was not to

do MDC work. They asked me if I have children and a

wife. They threatened that they would go and kidnap my

children if I did not cooperate. They asked me if I loved

my family. I said yes. They said if you love your family

then you must cooperate with them. Because if I don't do

that, they will do harm to my family. So when I started

shivering, they left me. They thought I was dying. Then

one of them left and removed the blindfold cloth, and this

time blindfolded me with tape, and then they went away.

They said 'Your party is not going anywhere. You are

wasting your time, because by the election time, there

won't be any MDC to talk about and that you will be

dead.'

After 20 minutes or so, when I couldn't hear their

voices, I was able to untie my hands, and then

removed the tape. Then I tried to stand up, and I

couldn't. That's when I realized I fractured my left leg,

because I couldn't walk with it. Luckily enough there

was a wooden stick nearby. I used that wooden stick

to walk slowly and I arrived at the nearest road. I was

feeling weak, and I sat down.

PG was eventually assisted by a passerby and went to

a medical facility for care. An x ray showed a fracture

on his left leg and a cast was put on. While PG had

not experienced further threats as of April 2007, he

continued to be very frightened:

The other day there were some guys claiming to be police

[they were not in uniform] visiting my neighborhood.

They were looking for another guy there and wanting

to arrest him. So when I saw this it reminded me of my

experience and I felt unsafe, that maybe they would come

again to me.

The case of MS

MS is a 39-year old male with no physical or

psychological problems prior to March 2007. He is a

local youth organizer for the MDC, as well as an active

member in a local community group, the Combined

Harare Residents Association (CHRA). On March 11

he was on his way to the prayer meeting in Harare. "I

met some ZANU-PF youth and they started pointing

at me, and we ran away." He learned that individuals

unknown to him had been coming to his home at

different hours of the day and night. "From then, I

have been living a life of moving from one place to

another. I haven't been sleeping well."

Near the end of April, MS went out with a friend to

buy food. At the time he was wearing a CHRA T-shirt.

Several men in civilian clothing approached him and

said, "We have been looking for you." He was forcibly

taken to a local ZANU-PF office:

They started beating me. They were saying 'Why are

you putting on these T-shirts for an organization that is

an arm of the MDC?' They were beating us everywhere

with baton sticks. And they knew my name and where

I stayed. And they said we are only waiting for the

time. And they beat us everywhere. I don't know what

happened--I collapsed. I had a cut on my chin and they

broke my arm.

Subsequently MS was forced to swim in a nearby pool

of dirty green water that he believed was overflow

sewerage:

They would beat us, make us swim in the water, then

bring us back to the office and beat us some more. This

happened 3 times. I got the most beatings, I was their

target. They beat us everywhere. As they beat us they said

'We are going to stop all of these small organizations--and

if we can beat Tsvangirai, we can beat you.'

MS was accused by his captors of participating in

petrol bombings of police stations, which he denied.

He was asked about future targets. "I told them I don't

know anything about it. But when you refused, they

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 23

beat you more. They took the other guy's cell phone

and were searching in the cell phone and calling the

numbers, but they were all business numbers." MS

was also forced to sing ZANU-PF songs while he was

being beaten. After being beaten on the soles of his feet

he was forced to jog in place. "The floor was mixed

with blood and water. They made us use our T-shirts

to clean that up, and then put them back on. It was

quite humiliating."

After approximately 4 hours they were released:

They said, 'We are releasing you but if anything happens

we will be coming back.' They asked me how much I was

being paid by the MDC? I said it is for the love of the

country I want to be free. They said they would destroy

the MDC. They said, 'Soon all of you will be gone. All

of these opposition groups will be gone, we are going to

destroy them.'

After I was released, I went home because I was bloodied

all over. I was feeling cold all over my body. I hurt all

over, especially under my feet and my left arm-I couldn't

move it. I couldn't walk. I was walking on tip toes

because of the beatings on the bottom of my feet with

baton sticks.

Subsequently, MS sought medical care, and was

found to have a fractured left arm. MS continued

to experience pain in his arm and feet. On physical

examination MS had several linear scars on his back,

each approximately 1⁄2 centimeter wide, consistent

with his report of baton beatings. There was diffuse

ecchymosis (black and blue marks) over his buttocks

bilaterally, consistent with having suffered recent

beatings there.

He also described experiencing a number of

psychological symptoms:

Sometimes I wake up in cold sweats, nightmares, as if I

am fighting people. I have nightmares they are coming to

take me away. If I am asleep, I hear cars passing, or even

if someone is walking here, I get frightened and wake up.

And I switch off the light. I am afraid they will come for

me here.

MS was easily startled. "I try to get my mind off by

reading a lot, but even if I read a story which is violent

it jogs my memory. I try very hard not to think about

it. I push it away."

Increased Harassment and Fear post

March 11

State-sanctioned political violence against individuals

perceived as critical of the ruling authorities in

Zimbabwe pre-dated the events of March 11, 2007.

Such individuals described increased fear after March

2007, even if they have not been victims of violence

since then.

The case of ER

ER, a 42-year old teacher from Bulawayo who holds no

formal position with the MDC, was harassed in 2006

because of a writing assignment he gave his students:

I wrote a comprehension passage for the students, where

I described how the main lion is eventually kicked out of

the pride. The reason is that his muscles will be weak, his

teeth will be worn out, but the voice remains sharp.

While he did not refer to President Mugabe

specifically, the Central Intelligence Organization

called him in for questioning about why he was being

critical of the President. Subsequently, local leaders

fired him and he was instructed to leave the district.

He then moved to another district, where he again

began teaching:

Two men came to the school where I was teaching. They

identified themselves as being from the CIO. They said

'Let's go to the police camp,' which is 30 km away.

We started walking, and when we reached an area of

thicket and bushes, they said, 'Let's go there and take a

rest.' And we left the road into the bush, and that's where

they had their torture instruments. They had a bag with

water, and big plastic ring, and batons.

They beat me up very badly with their fists and batons.

They kicked me. They said 'Tell us what you are doing

with the MDC.' And then I said nothing. And so they

said 'Now we are going to make you talk.'

And they put salty water inside a plastic bag. So one

opened it and said, put your head inside. I was leaning,

so I did that. And then they put the plastic thing around

my neck, and then up so the bag with the water was on

my head. I couldn't talk or breathe. Each time I would

fall down, they would beat me very hard on the feet-my

shoes were off. I swallowed a lot of water. Because each

time you feel the pain you scream. When they removed

24 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

the bag, I was choked and felt weak. They said 'We know

what you have been doing. We are going to get you and

get you to talk.' So I was almost unconscious and then

they left.

I woke up during the evening. I tried to walk, but I could

not walk, because my feet were sore, and so I had to crawl

back to school where a friend, another teacher, took me

to hide me. So I stayed there for a week. I was in pain all

over. I was coughing. I was bleeding.

Fearing for his safety, ER went into hiding. He learned

that CIO agents repeatedly came to his house looking

for him:

The same plain-clothes men kept coming to my house and

asking my wife where I was, she said she didn't know,

that maybe I was dead. She said they threatened to take

her. She said, 'Who will take care of the children?' so they

left her.

At the time of our evaluation, ER had fled to South

Africa out of increased fear following the events of

March:

I was in hiding during March because I was still

suffering from the beatings in December. So I was in

hiding because they were looking for me and are still

looking for me. I would have come earlier but I had no

money. I was sick from the beatings. It has taken several

months after the beatings to regain my strength.

The case of RC

Other individuals who had not been tortured or

beaten since March 11 described direct threats to either

themselves or their family.

For example, RC, a 35-year old male active in local

MDC political activities, had been arrested and briefly

detained several times prior to March 11 for his political

activities. He was not beaten during these arrests,

except for once in 2002, when he was beaten on his back

and head by police with sticks and gun butts. Since then

he has suffered from chronic backaches and headaches.

Following the March 11 violence in Harare, RC helped

to organize a rally in his city:

We had about 400-500 people marching. And the message

was put across clearly. They were singing. We were

carrying signs saying 'Mugabe must go now, please

release our president' (referring to the arrest of Morgan

Tsvangirai).

Signs also called for access to medications, access to

lawyers for those arrested, and the repeal of the Public

Order and Security Act.8 Then RC went to another

district near Bulawayo to help organize another group

of protesters:

Before we even started, the police started beating.

There were about 50-60 people there. A truck full of

police came, maybe 20-25, and they started beating up

everyone. Anyone they could see they were just beating

up. I didn't get hit myself at that time. So we dispersed.

He later learned that the same thing had happened in

a nearby town:

The police started beating people and were using water

tankers. Because of the escalating violence, a decision was

made to stop the protests. We feared all the people going to

work, school children and old people would get beaten up.

RC then learned that the police were looking for him:

I got a call from my wife, she was at the house, and she told

me plain- clothed policemen were at the house and turned

it upside down, taking all of my personal documents and

documents related to the party, and my photos. And she

was asked where I am. She told them I had gone out of

town on business. So that night I did not return home.

The following morning I phoned my house, I was told the

same people but more in numbers came back at 4 am, and

then they still asked where I was, and my wife was pushed

around, and they told her that the next time that they come

and I am not there that they will pick her up.

RC's wife went into hiding as well:

So that morning she went to my parents in another

district. And they [the police officers] came back again

at 8am. My wife had already left. So they picked up my

brother and tried to intimidate and threaten him. They put

him in the car, drove approximately 1 kilometer, and then

told him to get out. He wasn't beaten. From then, I did

not sleep at my house.

8. POSA, signed into law in 2002, declares it is illegal, among

other things, to have a gathering of more than 2 people.

(see http://www.hrforumzim.com/special_hrru/Special_

Report_4_2002%20Election/SR_03.htm)

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 25

RC learned that the police were continuing to look for

him and that he was reportedly on a "death list." He

has remained in hiding ever since. He described feeling

very sad and having difficulty sleeping. He blamed

himself for the problems that he has caused his family.

Hardship and Fear for Zimbabwean

Refugees in South Africa

Fearing for their safety, several of the Zimbabwean

victims of political violence we interviewed had fled

to South Africa after March 2007. Noted SP, who was

tortured after the March 11th prayer rally:


If I go back they will definitely arrest and torture

me. [Zimbabwean authorities] started making false

allegations and arresting our leaders. Fortunately, they

didn't catch up with me... They came to my house. I

think they were trying to remove the bridge between the

leadership and the grass roots. They don't want us to

campaign, so they use that trick to make us flee.

VM an MDC member who was imprisoned and

tortured in Bulawayo after returning from the March

11 prayer rally in Harare said:

I decided to leave because I was living a very hard life.

I was afraid they were going to come back to my house

and kill me. Because they [CIO Officers] promised me if I

continue with my party, they are going to kill me. That's

why I decided to come to South Africa.

While these individuals reported feeling safer in South

Africa, they feared deportation back to Zimbabwe.

Furthermore, the Zimbabwean refugees encountered

many difficulties upon arrival in South Africa. They

cited problems with obtaining refugee status or

political asylum; problems with attaining adequate

food and shelter; and difficulty obtaining necessary

healthcare.

LG, who fled after being arrested and beaten at the

March 11th prayer rally summed up his experience in

South Africa:

It's difficult here. It's difficult to find somewhere to sleep.

It's difficult to find food. We have no shelter. It's difficult

to secure asylum papers. And while you move around

there is a risk the police could arrest you and deport

you. [But] if I were sent back to Zimbabwe I would be

butchered.

Noted ER: "Identification is a problem here. I always

feel afraid that the police might arrest me."

Estimates of the number of undocumented

Zimbabweans living in South Africa are uncertain and

range from several hundred thousand to two million.9

While most Zimbabweans in South Africa are believed

to have left Zimbabwe for economic reasons, many

have fled political violence and persecution.

According to Zimbabwean advocacy organizations

the influx of Zimbabwean refugees always increases

during periods of crisis. Joyce Dube, director of the

Southern African Women's Institute for Migration

Affairs (SAWIMA) a referral center for Zimbabweans

in Johannesburg, told us:

All the people who came here in March are torture

victims. We send people to Zimbabwe Torture Victims/

Survivors Project ( ZTVP) (a counseling and medical

referral service for trauma victims) every day... In

March and April we got 15-20/day—double what we had

seen in previous months.

According to one human rights advocate:

People are being persecuted. [They] are likely to come into

the Diaspora because of the persecution and can't go home

because of the fear of torture. The fear of torture is real and

the world can anticipate a new wave of victims of torture

and political violence fleeing Zimbabwe. There is a need for

that to be recognized by receiving countries—the high risk

of being tortured if they are repatriated.

Zimbabwean victims of political violence and refugee

advocates described difficulties applying for political

asylum or even obtaining identification. Ms Dube from

SAWIMA explained:

The Department of Home Affairs has its own problems.

They [Zimbabweans] will stay a long time before they

are interviewed...and during that period while they're

applying they have no status. First, to get access to a

temporary permit, I know someone who was in line for 4

days. To get the status is 4, _, 6 years or even more. It's

unpredictable.

Such delays and difficulties are the result of an

inadequate and overwhelmed system in South Africa.

9. Wines M. Influx from Zimbabwe to South Africa Tests

Both. The New York Times. June 23, 2007. Page A1.

26 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

In 2006, for example, of the more than 53,000 new

applications for political asylum submitted to the

Office of Home Affairs, only approximately 5,000

were processed. 10 Of these, approximately 800 were

accepted for refugee status at the first stage. By far

the greatest number of new applications were from

Zimbabwe-nearly 19,000. Of these, fewer than 2,000

were processed and only 103 were granted political

asylum.11

One Zimbabwean refugee who had been in South

Africa for several years said:

I had all of the documents of torture. But still I was

told unless war is declared there is no way you can seek

asylum. After 3 years of waiting, in late 200_ I was

rejected... I was given a few days to leave the country... I

was ultimately granted refugee status.

According to a June 23, 2007 report in the New

York Times, approximately 4,000 Zimbabweans are

deported per week.12 One human rights advocate

described the stress of this existence:

Even when people flee to South Africa for safety, the

asylum process, which is the process you go through to

become a recognized refugee in South Africa, takes a long

time—often years, and you are not a refugee yet—you

are a citizen in limbo. And when you are in limbo you are

at risk of arrest.

Zimbabwean Refugees interviewed in South Africa

described difficulties obtaining basic needs. RC, who

fled leaving behind a small shop in Zimbabwe, said:

Things have been really tough for me in South Africa.

My life standard just changed all of a sudden. Back

home I had a nice house, but now I share a bed-just a bed

with 4 guys. All my energy here is looking for food and

accommodation. You are not yourself. As much as I want

to go back, going back would be the end of me.

In contrast to those who flee for economic reasons,

refugees fleeing violence tend to arrive less well

10. Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa.

Protecting Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa.

Pretoria, South Africa: June 19, 2007.

11. Wines M. Influx from Zimbabwe to South Africa Tests

Both. The New York Times. June 23, 2007. Page A1

12. Ibid.

prepared and in need of more services. Ms. Dube from

SAWIMA noted:

When we started we realized there are 2 kinds of

victims: economic migrants, and political victims. The

economic migrants plan to come to South Africa, they

get a job, make money, and they go back and forth. They

are prepared to come and have saved up money and are

prepared to be in this country. Unlike asylum seekers—

it's hard for them because they come with nothing. They

are running away. For them to live in South Africa is

very tough.

Ms. Dube and others working with Zimbabwean

refugees agreed that South Africa does not

adequately support them. "There is no access to

humanitarian assistance when they first arrive," Ms.

Dube said, "They have no food or clothing."

NF, a local MDC organizer, fled after ZANU-PF

operatives visited her home two days in a row and

she returned to find her phone lines cut. Friends

advised her to go to South Africa, but she had never

been there before. She left the next day and tearfully

described the journey:

I was always praying, "God please keep me." I was

wearing tennis shoes. They were torn, I finally threw

them away. My feet were in pain and swollen.

She arrived in Johannesburg with "only the dress I

was wearing" and a 1500 Rand debt for transport. She

has not had any communication with her husband

because the phone line to her house was cut before

she fled. She is staying with a friend but faces many

hardships:

I am starving. At times I don't go to the bathroom for

weeks because my tummy doesn't have anything. The

place where I stay is very cold at night so I can't sleep. I

don't have blankets. I am wearing the dress I have on.

But she said, "I really am very afraid to go back to

Zimbabwe. They will kill me."

WB also decided to leave quickly after having been

forced to remain in the military and subjected to

torture for refusing to participate in pro-ZANU

political activities. He was stationed near the border:

I told myself this is the chance for me to go and I left. I

went by river. I don't know how to swim but I crossed.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 27

Then I managed to get a taxi and I went. I never paid for it.

The guy now needs his money and I don't know what to say.

Dolores Cortes from ZTVP said traumatic entry is a

common experience:

How they enter is under fences, swimming through rivers.

Women are raped, stripped of their belongings. The trauma

is quite severe. They already come into South Africa

traumatized. The flight is traumatizing and the difficulty of

surviving in South Africa—makes it difficult to cope.

At the time of our visit, the Central Methodist church

in Johannesburg was housing several hundred

Zimbabweans per night, many of whom slept in the

hallways and stairwells. They had to vacate the building

by 6:00 in the morning.

For the few who find work, labor abuses are common.

Most received intermittent wages of 40-50 Rand per day,

far below a living wage. Ms. Dube, Director of SAWIMA

explained:

There are labor abuses. People are underpaid. Asylum seekers

are underpaid... or not paid at all. The restaurant owners

will threaten to turn them in.

Refugees in South Africa are guaranteed protection

under both domestic and international law including

the South African Constitution13 and the United Nations

Refugee Convention.14 Several Organizations, however,

have raised concerns about South Africa's failure to

ensure adequate protection of refugees. For example, a

November 2005 report by Human Rights Watch noted:

These legal guarantees have not been fully put into practice

by those South African institutions responsible for the

protection and promotion of these rights. Although South

Africa now has in place a good formal legal regime for

the protection of refugees and asylum seekers, serious

flaws remain in its implementation...The inability of the

Department of Home Affairs to process asylum applications

within the legally stipulated six-month period has resulted in

prolonged insecurity for asylum seekers, in some cases for up

to five years.1_

13. South African Constitution, Act. No. 108 of 1996.

14. 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, 189

UNTS150; and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of

Refugees, 606 UNTS 267.

15. Human Rights Watch. Living on the Margins: Inadequate Protection

A June 2007 report issued by the Consortium for

Refugees and Migrants in South Africa concurred:

The country's legislative framework and moral

commitments have not been supported by the necessary

human and financial resources needed to offer basic

protections to asylum seekers and refugees.16

for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Johannesburg. November 2005.

Available at: http://hrw.org/reports/2005/southafrica1105/

16. Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa.

Protecting Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa.

Pretoria, South Africa: June 19, 2007.

28 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

Victim of Assault (BA) by ZANUPF Youth.

Multiple linear markings are present on his

back, many of which are parallel to one another

and approximately the same width. This is highly

consistent with the history of beatings reported.

VI. PHOTOGRAPHS

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 29

Right arm of individual (KP) shot by police at

funeral of Gift Tandare. KP suffered fracture and

nerve injury as a result of gunshot wound.

30 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

Infected leg wound resulting from injury

caused by beating by police while in custody. The

infection likely worsened as a result of unsanitary

prison conditions under which the individual (CJ)

was held and delay in access to appropriate

medical care.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 31

Large ulceration on head resulting from beating.

After being stopped by police at a checkpoint

on March 11, 2007, this individual (YD)

was turned over to men in civilian clothing,

who brought him to a location where he

was beaten interrogated about his political

activities, including being beaten on head.

32 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

Dr. Allen Keller and Dr Samantha Stewart

interviewing MDC Leader Sekai Holland in

her hospital room in Johannesburg South Africa.

Ms. Holland suffered multiple fractures and other

injuries as a result of severe beatings she suffered

by Zimbabwean police on March 11 2007.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 33

VII. HEALTH CONSEQUENCES

OF TORTURE AND POLITICAL

VIOLENCE IN ZIMBABWE

Torture and political violence can have devastating

health consequences-physical, psychological and

social--for the individual victim, his or her family,

and the broader community through fear and

intimidation.1 All 24 of the Zimbabwean victims

of torture and political violence evaluated for this

report had corroborating physical and psychological

evidence of their abuse. All continued to suffer from

substantial and often debilitating symptoms caused by

their abuse. They complained of persistent headaches,

backaches and difficulty walking secondary to

beatings. Physical examinations revealed festering

wounds from being kicked or hit with the butt of

a gun; scars on victims' backs and buttocks from

being whipped, and broken arms and legs. The

psychological symptoms were severe and potentially

more enduring. They were haunted by recurrent,

terrifying memories of their torture. They suffered

from ruminating thoughts and intrusive flashbacks

during the day, and insomnia and frequent nightmares

at night. Those who were in hiding or had been forced

to flee the country were especially likely to describe

profound sadness and hopelessness.

According to a recent report by Zimbabwe Association

of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) and

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), 325

individuals sought medical treatment for injuries

sustained through torture and political violence during

March 2007, more than double the number typically

seen, and with the injuries sustained far more severe.2

Zimbabwean Human Rights Organizations speculated

1. Basoglu M, Paker M, Paker Ö, Özmen E, Sahin D. Factors

related to long-term traumatic stress responses in survivors

of torture. Journal of the American Medical Association.

1994;272:357-363. Quiroga J, Jaranson J. Politically motivated

torture and its survivors: A desk study review of the

literature. Torture. 2005:15;1-112. Piwowarczyk L, Moreno A,

Grodin M. Health care of Torture Survivors. JAMA. 2000;284:539-

541. Jaranson J, Popkin M. Caring for Victims of Torture.

Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press; 1998. Keller

A, Saul J, Eisenman D. Caring for Survivors of Torture in an

Urban, Municipal Hospital. J Amb Care Mgmt. 1998;21:20-29.

2. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwean

Association of Doctors for Human Rights. A Brief Report of

Human Rights Violations in Zimbabwe since March 11 2007.

Submitted to the African Commission on Human and

People's rights, May 2007.

that there may have been many more victims who

were not identified:

During this fateful period it is possible that a large

number of other cases of gross human rights violations

went unreported, as the victims did not approach legal

practitioners or medical practitioners for advice or

medical attention. 3

Among the victims of torture and political violence

who did present for evaluation and treatment, ZADHR

reported significant morbidity including frequent soft

tissue injuries, fractures, gunshot wounds and head

injuries. More than 50% of the victims demonstrated

severe psychological distress.4


The different dimensions of health--physical,

psychological and social--are interrelated and can

exacerbate one another. For example many of the

individuals interviewed described musculoskeletal

pain as a result of beatings. Such physical symptoms

often triggered psychological symptoms such as

disturbing, recurrent memories of their trauma.

Psychological symptoms such as flashbacks often

invoked palpitations (i.e. the sensation of the heart

beating fast) or somatic symptoms (i.e. without an

explanatory physical basis) including stomachaches

and headaches. Finally, many victims also felt

generally distrustful and socially isolated, which in

turn escalated feelings of sadness and hopelessness

and at times prevented them from accessing adequate

medical or psychological assistance.

Physical Health Consequences of

Torture/Political Violence

Individuals interviewed for this report described being

subjected to a number of different forms of physical

torture. The most commonly reported form of physical

torture or abuse was beatings. This included beatings

with fists and kicking with boots, as well as beatings with

objects (shambocks, whips, gun butts). One particularly

common form of torture repeatedly described was

"falanga," or beatings on the soles of the feet.

Following his arrest on March 11, LG one of the

organizers of the March 11 prayer meeting, described the

following:

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

34 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

They were using baton sticks. They would hit the

buttocks, they would hit under the feet-they would

remove your shoes and beat you under the feet. And they

were saying as they beat us, 'You are refusing to obey

police orders. This is not the first time you are here. You

are now becoming a nuisance to the State-you want to

remove the government.'

In several cases the distinct imprints of the torture

instruments used were present at the time of

evaluation. This included backs riddled with linear

markings from whips or the outlines of clubs. Scars

with indentations on legs from being kicked or on

the head from being hit with the butt of a gun were

present. Physical examinations also revealed scars

from gunshot wounds and knife injuries in several

individuals evaluated. Neurological findings such as

decreased motor strength, decreased sensation, and

perforated ear drums were clearly identified. Many

individuals had x rays that showed fractures. At the

time of the evaluation, some also wore casts from

fractures due to beatings or falls while being attacked.

YD, who was arrested and repeatedly beaten with

foreign objects, including batons, had several linear

scars on his back that were likely caused by the same

instrument. This is indicated when groupings of scars

have similar shape, depth and degree of healing. YD

had several well-demarcated scars on his leg with

atrophic changes (i.e. the skin was thin and shiny in

these areas) consistent with a history of experiencing

blunt trauma. Most notably he had a large open

ulceration on the left side of his head, consistent

with his report of being struck on the head, knocked

unconscious and awakening covered in blood with

a large wound on his head. Subsequently YD fled to

South Africa, but at the time of our evaluation had

been unable to receive adequate health care for his

injury (see Chapter VII).

BA, a local MDC organizer suffered a broken arm

in mid-February when he tried to block the blows

of police who beat him at a rally he was helping to

organize in his district. He was cared for at a private

medical clinic where his arm was placed in a cast.

In late March, BA was abducted from his home by

ZANU-PF youth.

They started assaulting me one by one. They were using

shambocks, iron bars and sticks and at times they were

using fists saying, 'You've got to tell us your MDC

structures. We want to know who petrol bombed police

stations. If we can beat Tsvangirai why can't we beat

you? You must go with us and show us where others

live.' They were using stones to try to crack and remove

my cast.

BA lost consciousness after being hit on the head and

was subsequently left naked on the side of the road

outside of Harare. "I was covered, soaked with blood.

I had great pain all over." BA heard his captors as they

left him saying "Just put him by that tree. I think he's

dead." BA subsequently was cared for at a private

clinic where he was admitted for 2 weeks. His broken

cast was replaced. He also received treatment for an

infected wound and hemorrhage in one eye.

At the time of evaluation, BA's right arm remained

in a cast. He had more than 20 linear scars across his

back and on his arms, many parallel to one another

and all approximately the same width-likely resulting

from repeatedly being struck with the same object.

He had raised, healing, circular scars on his chest,

shoulder and shin. He had superficial hypopigmented

(ie. lighter than the surrounding skin) scars on his

left forearm and shoulder. All of these findings were

highly consistent with the events he described.

Other physical forms of torture/abuse reported

included being shot; stabbed with knives and sharp

objects; forced contact with urine, feces, and sewage;

electrical shocks; and withholding of food and water.

JT was deprived of food for two days:

I was dehydrated by that time. My mouth was dry, I

asked for water. They blindfolded me. They told me to

open my mouth and I could smell and taste a bitter liquid

that they poured in my mouth, and it was warm, I think

it was urine.

All 24 individuals, continued to suffer from significant

physical symptoms including chronic back and muscle

pain, weakness, difficulty walking, neurological

symptoms such as dizziness, unsteady gait, weakness

in arms and legs from nerve damage caused by

beatings, stabbings or gunshot wounds, and chronic

headaches, dizziness and difficulty hearing as a result

of beatings on the head. Such symptoms may resolve

after a few weeks, but are often chronic, or may even

result in permanent disability.

LG, continued to have weakness in his left hand

caused by a beating by police 6 months earlier.

The beatings during his more recent imprisonment

continued to cause persistent pain in his feet. After

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 35

his release from prison, JT continued to experience

headaches and dizziness, which likely resulted from

being beaten on his head. His feet continued to hurt

after walking long distances. Many of those who

sustained injuries have experienced persistent pain

that was aggravated by delayed or inadequate access

to healthcare. The impact of physical injuries and

difficulties accessing health care continued to be a

problem for the Zimbabwean victims we interviewed

who had fled to South Africa as well (see Chapter VII).

Psychological Effects of Torture and

Political Violence

Torture and political violence can have severe and long

lasting psychological consequences.5 Zimbabwean

victims interviewed were subjected to a variety of

psychological forms of torture, including verbal

abuse, threats to themselves and their loved ones, and

humiliations such as being forced to undress or drink

urine. It is clear that physical forms of torture can have

psychological consequences as well.

All 24 of the individuals interviewed continued to

suffer from significant psychological symptoms

resulting from their abuse. Many met diagnostic

criteria for depression, anxiety and post traumatic

stress disorder (PTSD).

Exposure to both direct and witnessed violence raises

levels of psychological distress.6 The psychological

response to trauma and torture most commonly

manifests as symptoms of depression, anxiety, and

PTSD. The most commonly reported psychological

symptoms included recurrent, intrusive thoughts,

memories or nightmares; constant feelings of being on

5. Jaranson J, Popkin M. Caring for Victims of Torture.

Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press; 1998. Keller A,

Gold J. "Survivors of Torture." In: Sadock B, ed. Comprehensive

Textbook of Psychiatry. B Sadock, V Sadock, eds. New York:

Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2005:21. Keller A, Lhewa,

D, Rosenfeld B, Sachs E, Aladjem A, Cohen I, Smith H,

Porterfield K. Traumatic Experiences and Psychological

Distress Among an Urban Refugee Population. J Nervous and

Mental Disease. 2006;194:188-194.

6. Eriksson CB, Kemp HV, Gorsuch R, Hoke S, Foy DW.

Trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms in International

Relief and Development Personnel. Journal of Traumatic

Stress. 2001;14:205-212. Cooley-Quille M, Boyd RC, Frantz

E, Walsh J. Emotional and behavioral impact of exposure

to community violence in inner-city adolescents. Journal of

Clinical Child Psychology. 2001;30:199-206.

guard; difficulty sleeping; and "re-experiencing" i.e.

feeling as though the event is happening again (see

Table 4). Many individuals suffered from PTSD, based

on clinical interviews and psychological testing. More

than 3⁄4 (76.4%) of those who completed the PTSD

portion of the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ),

which measures symptoms of PTSD, scored above the

cutoff for clinically significant PTSD. On the Hopkins

Symptoms Checklist (HSCL) which measures symptoms

of depression and anxiety, nearly 90% of individuals

who completed the questionnaire had clinically

significant symptoms of depression and 83% had

clinically significant symptoms of anxiety (see Table 5).

CJ experienced symptoms from several of these

categories:

I still have the memories of what happened. Especially

when I see police I am afraid. I have nightmares nearly

every night about what happened in the police station.

I am crying. Whenever I hear footsteps outside, I feel

scared and I jump. When I was in the cells, I felt the

death spirit. That thought still comes back to me.

In clinical interviews, many victims manifested signs

of depression such as slow speech, downward gaze,

slumped posture, tearfulness, and describing feelings of

profound sadness. They also exhibited signs of anxiety

such as trembling, hand-wringing, and fidgeting.

Physiologic hyperarousal during the retelling of

events--characteristic of PTSD--was marked by leaning

forward in the chair, widened stare and scanning the

environment, increased rate of breathing, disorganized

and increased rate of speech, and increased tendency to

startle and describe memory with exquisite detail.

Many of the individuals exhibited evidence of Common

Mental Disorders (CMD's). CMD is the internationally

accepted term for symptoms of depression and

anxiety that clearly interfere with coping, productivity,

and recovery. CMD's may also manifest as physical

symptoms without physiologic basis such as body

aches, headaches, dizziness, insomnia and poor

appetite.

At least four of the individuals interviewed were

receiving medical treatment for insomnia, anxiety, or

depression. One reported significant problems with

alcohol since his first episode of torture. Three of the

individuals who had fled to South Africa were receiving

professional counseling. Several others who would have

benefited from psychological or psychiatric treatment

did not have access to such services.

36 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

Many of the interviews took place approximately one

month after the traumatic event. This is an important

cutoff mark for diagnosing acute stress disorder versus

a longer lasting post traumatic stress disorder. Acute

stress disorder describes dysfunctional reactions that

occur within one month of a traumatic event. Post

traumatic stress disorder describes an impaired state

that persists for longer than one month after exposure

to trauma. An acute stress reaction predicts an increased

likelihood of a more prolonged post-traumatic stress

reaction.7 In some cases depressed or post-traumatic

symptoms do not emerge until well after the event.

Both are more likely to emerge with repeated exposure

to stress or trauma.8 The psychological signs and

symptoms observed during our interviews represent an

early phase of the response to trauma that may improve

in some cases and worsen in others.9

Depression

Depression is a common psychological reaction to

traumatic events such as torture, displacement, and

chronic stress.10 Depression is defined as a low mood

that persists for longer than two weeks. Common

symptoms of depression include changed sleep,

appetite, and energy levels; slowed thinking and

movements; difficulty with motivation, interest or

enjoyment of regular activities; and guilty, hopeless,

or even suicidal thoughts. Symptoms may vary in

severity and number, but all interfere with day-to-day

functioning and recovery from trauma.

The Zimbabwean victims of torture whom we

interviewed manifested many symptoms of

depression. Many had poor eye contact, slumped

shoulders, downward gaze, and slowed or quiet

speech that are consistent with the loss of energy,

lowered self-esteem, and psychomotor retardation

seen in depressed patients. A few had lost interest

in personal grooming and appeared disheveled and

unkempt. For example, FL, a previously healthy young

7. Classen,C. et al (1998) Acute Stress Disorder as a predictor

of posttraumatic stress symptoms. American Journal of

Psychiatry, 155, 620-624.

8. Ibid

9. Shalev et al. 1998 Prospective study of posttraumatic stress

disorder and depression following trauma. Am J Psychiatry

155:630-637.

10. Kendler et al. 1999 Causal relationship between stressful

life events and the onset of major depressioin. Am J

Psychiatry 156:837-841.

man, rarely looked up during the interview that took

place approximately three weeks after he was beaten

by police while closing up at his workplace. He moved

his limbs slowly and heavily and appeared not to have

washed his clothing or body. The bandage around his

left hand was dirty and partially unraveled. He peeled

dirty, foul-smelling socks off his feet to reveal injuries

near his ankle.

Nearly all of the victims described poor sleep. This

ranged from difficulty falling asleep due to fearfulness

or ruminative, anxious thoughts; to waking frequently

with nightmares; to spontaneous early morning

awakening that are highly characteristic of depression.

Many described decreased appetite and weight loss.

For example, CJ had lost 10-15 kilograms. Many

described their clothes as ill-fitting due to significant

weight loss.

The victims interviewed also showed evidence of

the cognitive effects of depression. For example, FL

described difficulty making decisions, asking the

interviewer "What should I do?" Several victims

described being plagued with guilt and worry about

the impact on their families. YD told his story in a

disorganized manner demonstrating his difficulties

with concentration.

The most predominant evidence of depression was

the sad mood described by almost all of the victims

interviewed. NF wept during her interview. LR

had a pinched frown throughout the interview.

FL had sad-appearing eyes and held back tears.

BA's expression was flat and deadened even when

describing emotional experiences. NT put it simply,

"I feel sad every day." In the cases of CJ and ER, the

depressed mood included thoughts of death described

as the "death spirit" and dreams of dying. None of

the victims interviewed described thoughts of suicide,

but many described feeling hopeless and having

given up, with statements like BA's: "I've got nothing.

Everything was taken."

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is characterized by hyperarousal (e.g.,

irritability, poor sleep, and hyper vigilance), numbing

and avoidance, and re-experiencing of a traumatic

event. The following testimonies illustrate the presence

of these symptoms in those interviewed for this report:

1) Symptoms of hyperarousal such as irritability, poor

sleep, and hypervigilance

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 37

PG: Sometimes I feel frightened- especially during the

night. If a car is just moving in the nearby road, I start to

think that maybe this is some of those guys.

SP: I have bad dreams especially these days. It is terrible-

- I dream about all the people being beaten. I feel very

nervous. I am afraid even of my shadow walking in the

street.

2) Symptoms of numbing and avoidance

NE: I try not to think about what happened because if

you do you'll go crazy, but one can't help think about it.

BA: It's like I'm in prison because I don't go out, I don't

meet other people. I only stay indoors.

And 3) Symptoms of re-experiencing

NT: You begin to tell yourself that this place is safe, and

all of a sudden that feeling starts coming over to you and

the brain starts going back to those memories of when I

was hit, when I was interrogated.

MS: Sometimes I wake up in cold sweats, nightmares, as

if I am fighting people. I have nightmares they are coming

to take me away. If I am asleep, I hear cars passing, or

even if someone is walking here, I get frightened and

wake up.

Demoralization

Many victims expressed a profound sense of

demoralization. Mental health professionals see

demoralization as an existential reaction to stress,

and one of the best predictors of suicide and loss of

productivity.

KP: Because of the situation in Zimbabwe I am sad. I

don't feel free or happy.

DR: I feel very beat up because I was beaten up for no

apparent reason.


BA: I've got nothing. Everything was taken and they're

still looking for me there.

The activists we met had been working to promote

human rights in Zimbabwe for many years, but

they considered this level of demoralization to be a

new phenomenon. In the past, torture was often an

incentive for increased political activity, but lately

victims have simply felt overwhelmed and afraid. One

local activist observed:

You would go to people after they were beaten previously,

like 2 years ago in the pre-election violence, and you

would say, 'How are you actually feeling?' and they

would say, 'My body is broken but my spirit is strong.'

And now they say, 'These people are so cruel and brutal.'

I can see the distress in their eyes and faces.

Victims said they felt incapacitated, were unable to

leave their homes, and wished to leave the country.

Fear

Fear was the most common reaction to the widespread

violence and torture, and it affected not only torture

victims, but the rest of the community as well. Noted

prominent MDC leader Sekai Holland, "People in

Zimbabwe are ruled by fear. It is a strategy to say fear

in Zimbabwe has blocked a lot of positive things."

Fear was cited as interfering with ongoing political

activism. For example, NT stated:

I was very frightened, and got even more frightened when

I saw the people beaten after March 11. Because after that

they said we are coming for his [Morgan Tsvangirai]

people. They are targeting our age group [the youth],

because they thought we are the ones who start the

rallies. I was really willing and ready to go to the rally

[in the town where he lived] but I was afraid. I knew

people who went to a rally in my town and they were

beaten by the police. I have a friend who was beaten the

week before the March 11 rallies, and that really made me

want to stay at home.

Others cited fear as a barrier to obtaining appropriate

medical care. For example, VM stated,

After I was released, I needed medical treatment, because

I was sore and couldn't hear. But I was afraid to go for

medical treatment--otherwise, they would follow me.

NT predicted that fear will prevent the upcoming

elections from being free and democratic. "Everyone

lives in fear in Zimbabwe, everyone is confused.

I don't think it's possible that they will have fair

elections. People are too afraid." He maintained that

fear was driving many out of the country:

Psychologically, I was affected. I couldn't concentrate

on much. I feared for my life and my family's safety. So

38 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

I really thought it would be a wise choice to leave the

profession and leave the country.

Impact of Fear on the Community

Fear affected our work on this report. We have

been very careful to disguise the identities of our

informants because they told us that it was nearly

impossible to determine who could be trusted. Any

evidence of sympathy with the political opposition

could be communicated back to the government

and police and lead to further harassment. Several

informants were even unwilling to discuss their

injuries and physical location with their own

families. Several of the individuals we interviewed

remained in hiding. "It's like a prison," BA said.

He believed that going to his family would be too

risky for them and for himself. "I can't tell my own

mother [about my assault and location] because

you don't know who can be trusted." FL and LR

expressed similar fears. Activists don't even speak

openly among themselves. NT related that when a

close friend said he "fell from a train," NT "didn't

buy that story," He knew the friend had been

beaten.

The fear of communication exacerbated feelings of

isolation and depression and limited the sharing of

information that could provide reality-testing and

decrease the feelings of "going crazy" common in

PTSD. Worst of all, fear of communication interferes

with the natural healing processes that takes place

through talking, sharing stories, and speaking

out. FL had been particularly affected by police

threats and had not told his story in full until our

interview. Afterwards, he appeared more relaxed

and said:

It helps to offload stress but if you tell other people,

you can't know who they are.

In addition to the impact of torture and political

violence on individuals and their relationship and

communication with others, such abuse results in

profound fear and mistrust which pervades the

broader community. Torture in this manner is used

as a tool by government authorities to intimidate

and silence current and future opposition.

Noted one human rights advocate:

The thing I always think of is people in Zimbabwe are

living such a permanent state of fear and oppression that

normal democratic processes cannot take place.

Psychological Distress Among

Zimbabwean Refugees in South

Africa

Zimbabwean victims of political violence who had

fled to South Africa typically lived without the

support of family and a pre-existing social network.

Many refugees, such as NT who fled after recurrent

harassment at his job as a teacher, felt lonely and adrift:

I feel sad every day. Because my family is back at home

and they are worrying about me. I miss my friends

and family. I also am sad for my students. I was a good

teacher, my students really loved me. I am sad because

when I called home, they told me that my students don't

have a teacher anymore. They just sit outside.


NT described other persistent psychological

symptoms:

Sometimes I have bad dreams. I always feel like I

have to look over my shoulder all the time. I think it's

psychological and mental. It really affects you when

something like that happens. You begin to tell yourself

that this place is safe, and all of a sudden that feeling

starts coming over to you and the brain starts going

back to those memories of when I was hit, when I was

interrogated.

Many refugees reported that police continued to

come to their homes and harass their families in

Zimbabwe. "I'm very worried for my family. They can

do anything to them. Last time they beat my wife, she

had a miscarriage," said SP. Others worried about their

family's economic situation. "I am the provider for my

family," said KF. "The trouble that my family is facing

is very upsetting to me."

NT shared the sentiments of many of the

Zimbabweans interviewed when he said "If Zimbabwe

is peaceful and safe, I want to go back because it is my

home and that is where I grew up, and my family, my

life is there."

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 39

VIII. POOR CONDITIONS OF

DETENTION AND DELAYS IN

ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE

AND LEGAL ASSISTANCE

Informants who had been held in police custody

described unsanitary, inhuman conditions with

no attention paid to the severity of their injuries.

Many were denied food or water and experienced

substantial delays in obtaining access to legal services

and medical treatment. A frequently reported tactic

to reduce inmates' access to both medical and legal

services was to constantly move them from one police

station to another. Such conditions and mistreatment

are in clear violation of Zimbabwe's own Constitution

as well as the International Covenant on Civil and

Political Rights and the African Charter on Human

and People's Rights, both of which Zimbabwe is

a signatory to, and the United Nations Standard

Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.1 As

stated in Article 10 of the International Covenant on

Civil and Political Rights:

All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with

humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the

human person.

Inhuman Jail Conditions

Victims of torture and political violence who had been

jailed described deplorable prison conditions. Basic

needs such as food, water, light, toilets, blankets, and

access to exercise were often not provided. CJ, a young

1. Constitution of Zimbabwe, Articles 13 (3), 15 (1).

Available at: http://www.kubatana.net/docs/legisl/

constitution_zim_070201.doc; International Covenant on

Civil and Political Rights. adopted December 16, 1966, G.A.

res. 2200A (XX1), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N.

Doc. A.6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force

March 23, 1976, acceded to by Zimbabwe, May 13, 1991,

Articles 7 and 10; African Charter on Human and People's

Rights, adopted June 27, 1981, OAU doc. CAB/LEG/67/

3rev.5.21.l.LM.58 (1982), entered into force October 21, 1986,

ratified by Zimbabwe in 1986, Article 5; Office of the High

Commissioner for Human Rights. Standard Minimum Rules

for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the

Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held

at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and

Social Council by its resolution 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957

and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977. Available at: http://www.

unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_comp34.htm.

woman who had been tortured after being arrested on

March 11, spent three days in police custody and was

denied all food.

They said 'No, you are not given food.' There was no bed,

I slept on the floor. I was in great pain I had pain all over

my body. There were no blankets. I wished I would just die

because I was in such pain.

DR, a woman in her 60's who was arrested and tortured

in mid-March was not given any food for the first 2 days

of her imprisonment. During that time, she was held in

a dark windowless cell. "No one slept. We were sitting

on the floor. There was nowhere to sleep." NE, who was

arrested on March 11, described the cell in which he was

held for 3 days as "dirty, smelly and full of lice."

The cell was uninhabitable. The toilet was overflowing.

Urine was everywhere. Since we had no shoes we were

walking in urine and god knows what, and the lice would fall

off onto you. The lice that would fall on the ground would

crawl up on you and it was hell. There were two beds, but no

one dared go there because that was the domain of the lice so

we literally spent the night standing by the door where there

was a little trickle of light-otherwise it was dark and smelly.

SP's cell was overcrowded and filthy:

There were more than 2_ people in the cell I was in. They

don't clean those things. The toilet didn't work. It smelled

very bad. It was terrible.

After being beaten, JT was taken to a police station and

placed in solitary confinement:

I spent 2 nights in that cell alone. No communication, no

food, no water. I asked for water and they told me to drink

my urine. There was no toilet in the room, I was in terrible

pain, I would urinate on the walls. The cells were filthy. No

bed, no toilet, only one dirty blanket. It was lice infested.

When I got out I was itching all over and coughing.

Even if torture has not occurred, such conditions

constitute cruel and degrading treatment, violating

domestic and international law and international

standards. As stated in Articles 10 and 12 of the United

Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of

Prisoners:

All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and

in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all

requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic

conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum

40 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation... The

sanitary installations shall be adequate to enable every

prisoner to comply with the needs of nature when

necessary and in a clean and decent manner.

"Our prison cells were found to be unfit for human

habitation," said one Zimbabwean human rights

activist:

To be beaten up and tortured is one thing. To be

beaten up and thrown into uninhabitable prison

cells is another violation. That is degrading and

dehumanizing treatment. Whatever the reason for

being in prisons you have the right to human dignity.

Such unsanitary conditions can cause

malnourishment from inadequate food,

gastrointestinal/parasitic infections, bacterial skin

infections and infestation with lice. Zimbabwe's

crowded filthy prison cells are breeding grounds for

tuberculosis.2

One human rights advocate likened extended

imprisonment in Zimbabwe to a "death sentence:"

A huge percentage of individuals in prison are likely

HIV positive. Many likely get tuberculosis. Prisoners

sleep on cement floors crawling with lice. They keep

it as dirty as possible. The TB is really serious. If they

are on anti-retrovirals (for HIV infection) they are

not getting them. So it's killing people from several

directions. It's shocking.

Zimbabwe's health care system already faces

profound challenges3 including shortages of drugs,

supplies and health workers. But as Dr. Gwatidzo,

Chairman of Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for

2. Agence France-Presse. Overcrowding, poor conditions

claim 127 lives in Zimbabwe jail: study. Available at: http://

www.aegis.com/news/afp/2005/AF050234.html.

3. Thornycroft, P. Zimbabwe public health care costs soar.

Available at: www.voanews.com/english/2006-04-26-voa40.

cfm; Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights

(ZADHR). Taking stock of health rights in Zimbabwe on

World Health Day. Available at: http://www.kubatana.

net/html/archive/health/060407zadhr.asp?orgcode=zim

065&year=2006&range_start=1. Zimbabwe Association of

Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR). Prevailing health sector

emergency. Available at: http://www.kubatana.net/html/

archive/hr/070601zadhr.asp?orgcode=zim065&year=0&ran

ge_start=1.

Human Rights (ZADHR) explained the situation in

prisons is even worse:

The number of doctors in prisons is inadequate. The

medical officers in the prisons will never be able to take

care of all the prisoners. When there is a sudden influx

of injured prisoners, they don't respond on short notice.

They don't have the capacity.

"I think it has always been dangerous to be in custody

in conditions that are filthy, degrading, and inhuman,"

noted Otto Saki, an attorney with Zimbabwe Lawyers

for Human Rights (ZLHR). "But now, while you are

in those conditions that are already degrading, you

are now being subjected to torture and beatings. It is

something that is on the increase."

Delays in Access to Legal Services

While in Police Custody

Several victims and human rights attorneys

described intentional delays in accessing legal

services. For example, JT, who was arrested and

severely beaten by police after attending the funeral

of Gift Tandare, was not able to see a lawyer until

the 4th day he was in police custody:

Early in the morning, they woke me up and told me

there was someone to meet me, only to see it was [a

lawyer]. He told me, he started looking for me on the

13th at Harare Central Police Station and I wasn't

there. He told me he had been looking for me for some

days. He told me some of the people who were arrested

were put in different police stations outside of Harare.

He came to a police station looking for me. I was there

at the time, but they denied that I was there--the

police station where I was. He came looking for me,

but the police officer denied my presence. He found me

by an anonymous tip.

Several inmates overheard police officers denying

to lawyers and family members that they were

present. When lawyers came looking for DR and

the group of women she was arrested with, "The

police said we were not there. We could hear the

conversation."

"Lawyers and doctors were trying to see us and

were refused to see the prisoners," said MDC

feminist leader Sekai Holland, who was imprisoned

and tortured on March 11. "The military intelligence

told us, 'The lawyers and doctors were trying to get

to you.'"

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 41

ZLHR attorney Mr. Saki distinguished between those

in remand prison (jail) and police custody. "The ones

that are in remand prison, we have access. But when

they are in police custody we are denied access."

Lawyers trying to obtain court orders to see their

clients reported that even when such court orders

were obtained, they were not enforced. Lawyers also

described an increase in the length of time it took to

obtain access to their clients from the standard 24-48

hours following arrest to a prolonged 4 to 5 days.

"Often during the first 4 to 5 days of being arrested,

we have no access at all while they are in police

custody," noted Mr. Saki. "It has become a strategy to

move individuals from one police station to another to

hamper our access. They have been using no less than

10 police stations."

Several of the victims described being moved from

one prison to another 2 or 3 times, making it harder for

their attorneys to trace them.

Domestic and International Law require access to

legal representation.4 Article 13 of the Zimbabwean

Constitution states:


Any person who is arrested or detained shall be informed

as soon as reasonably practicable, in a language that he

understands, of the reasons for his arrest or detention

and shall be permitted at his own expense to obtain and

instruct without delay a legal representative of his own

choice and hold communication with him.

Delays in Access to Medical Care

While in Police Custody

There was a clear pattern of delaying or denying

access to health care for Zimbabwean victims while in

police custody in violation of international standards.5

4. Constitution of Zimbabwe, Articles 13 (3). Available at:

http://www.kubatana.net/docs/legisl/constitution_zim_

070201.doc; International Covenant on Civil and Political

Rights. adopted December 16, 1966, G.A. res. 2200A (XX1),

21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A.6316 (1966),

999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force March 23, 1976, acceded

to by Zimbabwe, May 13, 1991, Article 14; African Charter

on Human and People's Rights, adopted June 27, 1981, OAU

doc. CAB/LEG/67/3rev.5.21.l.LM.58 (1982), entered into force

October 21, 1986, ratified by Zimbabwe in 1986, Article 7.

5. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

This was true for both prominent individuals

such as senior Zimbabwean MDC leader Sekai

Holland, as well as lesser known victims.

Dr. Reginald Matchaba-Hove of the University of

Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences explained:

The denial of access is both medical and legal. The

people arrested and tortured March 11 were picked

up Sunday. By Monday, I, along with others,

rushed down there with the orders. We rushed

to the police cells and they would deny having

the people there. We went to at least four police

stations and we were denied access. Denial of

medical access has been systematic. Not just with

Morgan [Tsvangirai] but with the others—and the

world is not aware of this.

Human rights attorney, Otto Saki, noted:

In most of the individuals, they have been abducted

in the middle of the night, denied access to lawyers,

subjected to mistreatment, not given access to

medical doctors, except for government hospitals,

and we all know the state of conditions in these

hospitals and the reluctance of doctors to attend to

these cases.

According to Dr. Gwatidzo of ZADHR delays in

medical care increased medical complications in

many cases, including that of Sekai Holland.

She never got any treatment from March 11th to

the 13th. Sekai Holland had the worst injuries

and the state she was in was a result of prolonged

imprisonment and denial of access to medical

treatment. And she got complications as a result.

Her left leg she had fractured, and besides the

bruising it had become infected. It was really bad.

Ms. Holland confirmed, "My injury was on

Sunday and I had not received care until 3 days

later." She drank what little water she was given,

rather than clean herself, despite her bleeding,

inability to walk, and diarrhea.

RP, who was in jail with MDC President, Morgan

Adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the

Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held

at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and

Social Council by its resolution 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957

and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977. Available at: http://www.

unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_comp34.htm.

42 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

Tsvangirai remembered how he protested that other

prisoners needing medical care be brought to a

hospital:


I was having difficulty breathing... Mr. Tsvangirai

asked the officer in charge to take me to the hospital

and she refused. She said she had orders from

the highest order that she should only take Mr.

Tsvangirai and Mr. Maduko to the hospital and no

one else... The first two days they wouldn't let us out

of the cell.

Even after it was mandated by the court that all of

the prisoners be provided with healthcare, there

were delays, explained RP:

The third day ...we were taken to court. When we

got there, there was no magistrate in the court. But

there was an order from the high court that we should

be immediately taken to the hospital. At first they

refused, but then around 7 pm we were taken to a

clinic. I was there for five days.

LG, who had open wounds all over his body,

particularly on his feet from police beatings endured

on March 11 2007, did not receive any medical care

during the 3 days he was in detention. Following his

release, he was cared for in a private clinic where his

wounds were cleaned, disinfected, and he was given

pain medication. "I was particularly sore on the soles

of my feet which were swollen," he noted.

This was not the first time LG had been denied

medical care or legal assistance while in police

custody. In September, 2006, he was arrested, severely

beaten and tortured following his participation in the

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) march.

We were at that police station for about 3 days. We were

denied access to lawyers...I needed medical attention

because my hand was badly injured [after being beaten

by police with baton sticks]. I asked 'can I see a doctor?'

and they said 'there is no room for that. You are in

prison. You don't have your freedom anymore. You are

under our custody.' We could see that the lawyers were

trying to come and wanting to see us and they were

turned away.

DR did not receive any medical care, during her 3

days of imprisonment for swollen painful feet and

lacerations on her back and buttocks, resulting from

her beatings while being interrogated by the police.

Untreated wounds easily become infected, particularly

in unsanitary conditions. CJ, who had painful open

ulcers on her legs from being beaten after her arrest

in March 2007, did not receive any medical care until

3 days after her arrest, when she was brought to a

medical facility under police guard. By then, her

wounds were infected. Her wounds were cleaned and

she received antibiotics and pain medication, but one

of the ulcers on her leg ultimately required a skin graft

likely due to the delay in treatment.

Several Zimbabwean doctors speculated that delays

in treatment may have been intended to allow time

for evidence of torture/trauma to heal and disappear.

But this was believed to be more common in the past.

Given the marked increase in violence, this strategy

was less feasible now. "If they beat them, they can't

hold them until they are healed because they don't

have the manpower," said one doctor.

Noted Dr. Gwatidzo:

I believe there are a lot of aims to what they do. They keep

them in a cell and deny them access. It's a severe mental

torture when you don't think you will get adequate

treatment.

"The police should produce people requiring

treatment for medical conditions," said a human rights

advocate:

The state has a legal requirement to do so. The problem is

the will of the state. The police prevent individuals from

getting to medical care-even with supervised evaluations.


Mr. Saki noted that recently in a number of cases

involving individuals facing terrorist charges, court

orders for detainees to receive medical care were

ignored. "When we have been successful in obtaining

an order, we have had difficulty in seeing it enforced

and allowing access to doctors."

According to ZLHR and ZADHR, 9 MDC members

arrested on March 24 on terrorist charges were

released and a court order instructed that they have

access to medical attention at a facility and by doctors

of their choice. But according to a health professional

who was present in the court room:

One of the clients collapsed outside the court. He couldn't

stand, he couldn't sit, he had been beaten so badly. He

was just lying outside the court, but police wouldn't let

any doctor attend to him.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 43

When the court order was confirmed, ambulances

were called to take them to a private hospital.

At that point the 9 individuals for about 4 days had not

received any medical care. They were being beaten during

those 4 days. When the ambulances arrived, about half

had to be carried, the others who could walk were having

difficulty walking. They were still limping along because

they had been beaten on their feet.

A doctor at the private hospital told us:

When I left the hospital, they [the victims brought to

hospital by court order] were in safe hands. The prison

officers were in the company of the consulting doctor.

Now we don't know what happened to those individuals,

because we have never seen them again. We honestly

don't know.

A nurse who was present that night witnessed the

arrival of police and a prison doctor in the middle

of the night. They moved the men into a police

truck without any communication with the treating

physician or formal transfer documentation.

When I got there two [of the victims] were waiting outside

the x-rays... The high courts had instructed the state

to let the prisoners have access to medical attention at

a facility of their choice and then doctors of their own

choice... The doctors... had seen the majority. Most had

soft tissue injuries... The others were in the observation

unit... another staff said, 'Do you know what is

happening?' By this time, the fire escape had opened, and

as I got there, he [a doctor from the prison] was already

closing the prison truck. It was a police who said, 'We

have our own hospital.'

The doctor from the prison said, 'What is your problem,

sister?' I thought they had only taken one, but in the

meantime they had come in with a lot of prison guards

and they forced the patients to get into prison uniforms.

One was wearing a uniform so tight and I said, 'It's too

tight' and the guard said, 'No worry, we will change

it.'... He [the prisoner/patient] had an IV and he was

wheeled out into the prison truck...

He [the prison doctor] did not get any information, as

far as I can see, about the patients. It was not a smooth

takeover. They were taken out the fire escape. Patients

were taken out. I was horrified...

One physician noted dispiritedly, "Generally health

professionals don't usually abduct patients."

Delays in Medical Care Outside of

Prison

Individuals reported delays in receiving medical

care for reasons aside from imprisonment including

bureaucratic impediments, fear of receiving services

at public hospitals, and inadequately staffed/supplied

hospitals.

Bureaucratic Impediments

Several individuals described a requirement at

Zimbabwean government hospitals that injured

individuals bring a police report in order to get

treatment.

YD, who suffered a severe head wound after being

beaten by members of the Youth Militia had difficulty

accessing care because he did not have a police report.

YD was found unconscious on the side of the road and

brought to a nearby government clinic, where his head

wound was cleaned. Staff at the clinic then told him to

go to a police station and file a report.

After I was bandaged, I was taken to a police station, and

asked who I was attacked by. I tried to explain to them

what happened, and they told me I was lying, that I was

beaten by robbers. I told them that I had passed through

another police station. They said 'No that's not true.'

They started questioning the people who brought me to

the police station and they got nervous, and they called

my relative.

YD's relative then went to a hospital, but was unable

to get assistance.

I couldn't get help because they didn't get a police report.

In Zimbabwe, to get treated, you have to have a police

report. The police had not given me one-they had sent me

away. So they wouldn't help me at the hospital.

Three other victims said they tried to present their

stories to the police in order to obtain further services,

but the police did not respond or refused to believe

their stories.

Delays in Accessing Medical Care Because of

Fear

Several individuals said they were afraid that if they

sought treatment, particularly in public hospitals, they

risked further abuse. When FL was beaten outside of

his workplace along with several co-workers, he didn't

44 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

go to the hospital right away because "the police told

us if we told anyone the story, they would track us

down." Added FL, "It was difficult for us to go to the

public hospitals because there were CIO there looking

for those who were injured."

VM, believed he needed medical care after being

beaten and remaining for three days in police

custody:

After I was released I needed medical treatment because

I was sore. But I was afraid to go for medical treatment.

Otherwise they would follow me.

Dr. Matchaba-Hove confirmed that public hospitals

do not always provide adequate or safe care:

The quality of care at the public hospitals leaves a lot

to be desired and from a security standpoint people

don't feel they are safe. So you won't get the best

care. But people are also suspicious because there are

military there. [After the September ZCTU rally when

many protesters were attacked by police] the head of

the casualty unit was very negative. He said these are

prisoners; this is not urgent; we can see them tomorrow.


Inadequate Availability of Medical Services

The poor state of the health system exacerbated

the victims' problems accessing care. BA, who was

abducted on a Thursday went to two public hospitals

before he found one with a doctor and necessary

medical supplies. "I was admitted on Friday. There

was no doctor. They even said the doctor was coming

the following Monday." He was given only Tylenol

even though he was still bleeding profusely and was

in severe pain.

On the third day of his detention in the fall of 2006,

LG was taken by police to a public hospital "...where

they did little to assist us. They gave us pain killers."

Upon his release the following day, he went to a

private clinic where surgery was performed on his

fractured hand and leg.

Difficulties Accessing Medical Care

in South Africa

Several of the Zimbabwean victims of political

violence interviewed for this report who fled to

South Africa encountered significant difficulties in

obtaining needed medical care there.

For example, VM, suffered a loss of hearing and pain

as a result of beatings to the head. We found he had a

ruptured tympanic membrane (ear drum). "Life is very

hard here. I can't get food. I can't get treatment. Still I

have pain in my ear, but I can't get treatment, because

they don't give it to you if you don't have any ID."

NF is an elderly woman who had symptomatic high

blood pressure upon arrival. She was prescribed

treatment but could not pay for it. "I said I am not

working and they said, 'You must work--then go to the

doctor.'"

YD, who had a severe head wound from his beating,

had a similar experience:

When I arrived in South Africa I went to a hospital and

the doctors said the blood was coming out bit by bit, so

they sewed up the veins. Then they bandaged me and

told me I should be having a skin grafting in the future. I

was supposed to be admitted but I haven't gotten refugee

status or a temporary refugee document. I applied but I

haven't gotten it yet, and so they told me I am supposed

to pay _1,000 Rand for the graft because I am a foreigner.

So I just told them I don't have that kind of money, I

don't even have a place to stay. They said they can't do

anything. They are treating more than _0 Zimbabweans

every day. So now Zimbabweans have to pay. They said

come back when I have the money. So far there is no way

I can get that money.

At the time of evaluation, YD still had a large open

wound on his head that he was doing his best to

keep clean so it would not become infected. He also

was easily startled, had difficulty sleeping, and had

frequent nightmares when he did fall asleep.

DK, an HIV positive Zimbabwean who arrived in 2002

after being tortured and raped by ZANU-PF military

described the many problems of having no citizenship

papers.

I haven't started on anti-retrovirals because I know that

it's important that once you start you don't stop, and

it's difficult for me because of my status. I have not been

granted asylum yet. I applied for asylum in 2003, and

still have not heard a decision. They are still postponing.

It's a puzzle. It seems the South African government has

taken a position that those people who are real victims of

torture— they have made a decision not to grant them

political status. My status is asylum pending. I don't

qualify for medical benefits. Nothing. I can't afford the

medications for HIV on my own. Sometimes we have it

very tough just to put a meal on the table.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 45

According to the South African Constitution, everyone

in the country, regardless of legal status is entitled

to lifesaving care. The 1998 Refugee Act provides

for even greater access to health care for refugees

and other non-citizens in the country with permits.

Access to health care for refugees and asylum seekers,

however, remains a significant challenge. According

to a recent report by the Consortium for Refugees and

Migrants in South Africa6.

Many refugees and asylum seekers report being refused

access to treatment at clinics and hospitals. Often, they

face the same understaffing, lack of medication and long

waiting times at public health care providers that many

South Africans also suffer. But in many instances,

international migrants also face discrimination and

ignorance of their rights when they attempt to access

medical services.

The refugee advocates in South Africa with whom

we spoke cited several contributing factors to this

including lack of official documentation from the

Department of Home Affairs, xenophobia, and

confusion among health providers over the rights

different categories of migrants have to services, and

ambiguous guidelines for asylum seekers.

Noted Dr Loren Landau, Director of the Forced

Migration Studies Program at the University of

Witwatersrand, South Africa:

Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers certainly need

better access to basic services. This can be accomplished

by strengthening and enhancing access to government

funded social, housing and medical services, and

educating providers. Furthermore, there needs to be

increased support for nongovernmental organizations

assisting Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers.

6. Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa.

Protecting Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa.

Pretoria, South Africa: June 19, 2007.

IX. HARASSMENT OF

DOCTORS AND LAWYERS

ASSISTING VICTIMS OF

TORTURE AND POLITICAL

VIOLENCE IN ZIMBABWE

Doctors and lawyers provided numerous accounts

of receiving direct verbal threats from police and

government authorities. They reported receiving

messages at their workplaces, at home, and on their

personal cell phones warning them not to "interfere"

with state-sponsored violence. Government authorities

also obstructed lawyers' access to clients (see Chapter

VI), and insisted on being present while medical

doctors examined political prisoners. International

standards and codes of professional conduct clearly

delineate the rights and responsibilities of doctors and

lawyers to function independently and without such

harassment and intimidation.1

Intimidation and Harassment of

Doctors

One Zimbabwean human rights advocate summarized

the situation of Zimbabwean health professionals as

follows:

There is the stress of being in a system under stress, but

then being watched closely. People take an oath of caring

for someone, but then [are prevented] if you take care of a

political prisoner. Imagine if you were a doctor or nurse

1. World Medical Association. Declaration of Hamburg.

(Declaration Concerning Support for Medical Doctors

Refusing to Participate in, or to Condone, the Use of Torture

or other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment).

November, 1997. Available at: http://www.wma.net/e/

policy/c19.htm; World Medical Association. Declaration of

Madrid on Professional Autonomy and Self-Regulation. May

2005. Available at: http://www.wma.net/e/policy/a21.htm;

World Medical Association. Declaration of Geneva. September

1948 and editorially revised May 2006. Available at: http://

www.wma.net/e/policy/c8.htm; Eighth United Nations

Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of

Offenders. Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. September

1990. Available at: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/

b/h_comp44.htm; United Nations General Assembly.

Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of

Crime and Abuse of Power. Adopted by General Assembly

resolution 40/34, November 29, 1985. Available at: http://

www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_comp49.htm.

46 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

at one of the hospitals where the victims were brought

and you are just trying to do your job--and you have

people in riot gear watching over you.

After forming the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors

for Human Rights (ZADHR) in 2002, its chairman Dr.

Douglas Gwatidzo was contacted by the Zimbabwean

Minister of Health and questioned by the Zimbabwean

Intelligence Service about the group's activities. In

2004, the Zimbabwean government accused ZADHR

of being "one of the vehicles through which [foreign]

forces are trying to spread malicious reports about the

human rights situation in the country."2

Dr. Gwatidzo said such claims are false and are

intended to instill fear in doctors of openly supporting

ZADHR.3 "Many doctors don't want to be identified

with ZADHR publicly," he explained to investigators.

While Dr. Gwatidzo was in New York in April 2007

speaking about the March 11 events, his wife received

phone calls at home requesting him to appear at

the police station when he returned. Otto Saki of

Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights explained

that Dr. Gwatidzo is "on the radar" due to his

documentation of police violence and interference with

medical care surrounding the events of March 11th. "He

had taken pictures of the people he was attending to

and they were not taking it lightly."

"The work I do is not acceptable to the system,"

said Dr. Gwatizdo. However, he sees it as his central

responsibility as a clinician to treat all those injured,

regardless of political affiliations. "I am a general

practitioner. I do accident and injury work," he

explained.

On March 24, 2007, ZADHR released a petition to

protest the hospital delays in caring for those arrested

after the state sponsored attack on MDC leader

Tsvangirai and others and the intimidating and

antagonistic police presence in the hospital once they

were finally brought for treatment:

Despite their best efforts, health professionals in

Zimbabwe are placed in an impossible position as they

are prevented from treating "politically unacceptable"

2. Zimbabwe Sunday Mail. July 2004.

3. Pincock S. Douglas Gwatidzo: Defending Human Rights

in Zimbabwe. The Lancet. 2005;366:363. Information also

confirmed in interview with investigators, May 2007.

citizens. Efforts taken by health professionals to

document and prevent human rights abuses meet

with further intimidation by security forces. The

treatment of the leader of the opposition, Mr. Morgan

Tsvangirai, on the night of his assault illustrates this

situation. After his arrest and subsequent assault

he collapsed while being held in police cells. He was

taken to the Accident and Emergency Department

of the government Central Hospital at 03:00hrs.

The A&E department was cordoned off. A junior

medical officer on duty was made to review him in the

presence of armed police, which he did superficially

without reference to senior colleagues. He did not

implement effective management of Mr. Tsvangirai's

injuries so that the latter was released back to the

police despite having lost sufficient blood to lose

consciousness again the next day. He was eventually

treated at a private hospital where he required a blood

transfusion.4

A spokesperson for ZADHR explained that doctors

were constantly being intimidated by the police:

It's that level of intimidation, you censor yourself.

Even at Avenues [a private clinic in Harare that

frequently treats victims of the police] the armed

police come into the examining room. It takes

someone quite mature to say' no you can't go into the

room.' Or if they are in the room (they demand) how

to do our job.

The young doctor who initially attended to Mr.

Tsvangirai on March 11 was especially nervous, Dr.

Gwatidzo said:

And so they [the police] said 'everyone else out'. For

someone who is young that is intimidating... They

were not saying, 'Don't do this.' But at the end of the

day, they are taking him [the prisoner]. The young

doctor had to examine him in the middle of the night

after March 11th in the presence of police. They have

created a very tense atmosphere.

Several doctors told us how stressful they found the

constant surveillance of their work. They did not

even feel comfortable identifying themselves for

this report because they feared harassment.

4. Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights.

The time to speak and to make a difference is now. Available

at: http://www.ifhhro.org/files/Petition_March_24_07_

ZADHR.doc.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 47

Intimidation and Threats to Lawyers

Lawyers have also been harassed by the government.5

As one ZLHR lawyer told us:

While the lawyers have been threatened in the past, it

is on the increase. I had an anonymous call soon after

March 11th. I was actually at home... the person said to

me, 'If you continue representing these guys we will f--

- you up.

On the day of the court order allowing Gift Tandare's

burial, another attorney was threatened by the

commander of the Law and Order Section of the

Zimbabwean police force, Musarashana Mabunda.

He said, 'During the liberation struggle lawyers

disappeared. So you are fighting for the liberation of the

country. So you can also disappear.

The threats, including anonymous threatening phone

calls to the wives of 2 attorneys on April 25 led ZLHR

to provide security at the homes of several of the

attorneys. Two were arrested on May 4, 2007 and all of

their records were seized.6 In response 60 human rights

lawyers attended a peaceful demonstration in front

of the National High Court building on May 8. One

lawyer was beaten up in front of the court buildings

and ten others were arrested and released that day.

According to Front Line, a Dublin-based human rights

organization:

Reportedly, three truckloads of riot police, uniformed

officers and individuals in plain clothes armed with

automatic rifles, shot guns and batons initiated the

attack, verbally abused the lawyers and physically

attacked them on charges of "not dispersing fast enough."

A number of lawyers sought protection inside the

Attorney General's office but were physically attacked

by riot police and additional officers waiting inside the

building. The lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa, Colin Kuhuni,

Chris Mhike and Terrence Fitzpatrick were placed onto a

police truck and driven to Eastlea, a nearby suburb where

they were ordered to lie on the ground on the side of the

5. Federation for Human Rights. Ill-treatment / Arbitrary

detentions and releases / Judicial proceedings / Unlawful

search - ZWE 003 / 0507 / OBS 046. Available at: http://

www.fidh.org/article.php3?id_article=4299.

6. Reuters. "Two Lawyers Arrested In Zimbabwe Sweep".

New York Times. May 6, 2007. Available at: http://query.

nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=980CEFDE1E3EF935A3

5756C0A9619C8B63.

road and beaten in full view of the public. The lawyers

were then released on the roadside.7

Some ZLHR lawyers described an increasing sense of

demoralization:

One thing we are very concerned about is that even as

lawyers we get to a stage that we are starting to burn

out. There are about 10 of us. That's why it's easy to

threaten us. They know it is the same lawyers.

Fewer and fewer professionals are willing and able to

work under such stressful conditions, and "brain drain"

is increasing rapidly according to the Southern African

Migration Project (SAMP) and others.8 "Compassion

fatigue" or "secondary traumatization," the stress of

working with those in crisis, has also been documented.9

7. Front line. Ongoing harassment of human rights lawyers in

Zimbabwe. Available at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org.

8. See Chikanda, Abel "Skilled health professionals'

migration and its impact on health delivery in Zimbabwe"

in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, May 2006. Also

Stilwell B. Developing evidence-based ethical policies on

the migration of health workers: conceptual and practical

challenges. Hum Resour Health. 2003;1:8.

9. Beaton RD, Murphy SA. Working with people in crisis:

Research Implications. In: Figley CR, ed. Compassion fatigue:

Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat

the traumatized. NY: Brunner/Mazel; 1995:51-81.

48 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

X. Risks and Limitations of this

Investigation

While names and other identifying information of

informants and victims of torture/political violence are

not included in this report (except where permission

was given to do so), individuals were informed of the

risk of being identified based on narrative information

presented in this report. All individuals nonetheless

agreed to be interviewed.

Much of this report is based upon the evaluation of a

relatively small sample (24). One cannot necessarily

extrapolate the results of these interviews to the

population of torture victims in Zimbabwe as a

whole or to the general Zimbabwean population.

Additionally, the individuals in the sample were not

randomly selected but were referred for evaluation.

Nevertheless, the group interviewed offers a cross

section in terms of gender, age and political stature.

Individuals included both prominent leaders of the

political opposition as well as local organizers and

ordinary citizens. Furthermore, our findings were also

consistent with information gathered in more than

30 meetings with health professionals, human rights

advocates and representatives of non-governmental

organizations in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Interviews were transcribed by the evaluating

physicians (Drs Keller and Stewart). While every

effort was made to accurately transcribe individual's

comments, for safety reasons interviews were not tape

recorded to confirm exact statements made. Interviews

were conducted in English except for two evaluations

where translators were used. Errors in translation in

these two cases cannot be ruled out.


In conducting forensic evaluations of individuals

claiming harm/injury from violent acts such as torture,

the potential for individuals falsifying information,

exaggerating symptoms or falsely claiming that physical

findings are associated with their reported abuse must

be considered. The individuals in this report underwent

detailed evaluations, typically lasting 2 hours, and were

found to be highly credible and have clear physical and

psychological findings corroborating their allegations of

torture and abuse. Furthermore, as noted in the methods

section, rigorous criteria were used to define torture and

political violence. The two physicians agreed in all cases

on the classifications of individuals as victims of torture

and/or political violence.

The victims evaluated for this report did not appear

to be exaggerating or falsely reporting the events

they described. They were forthcoming about what

events they did and did not recall and what abusive

treatments they did and did not experience. The

findings on physical and psychological evaluation

were consistent with the events individuals described.

Furthermore, individuals readily acknowledged that

some of the scars noted on physical examination were

unrelated to their imprisonment and mistreatment.

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 49

XI. TABLES

Demographic Information

(n=24)

Frequency Percentage

Gender

Female 5 21

Male 19 79

Age

19-25 6 25

26-35 9 38

36-45 5 21

46-55 1 4

56-65 3 13

MDC Affiliate

Member 4 17

Local Organizer 12 50

National Organizer/leader 6 25

Non Member 2 8

Table 2:

History of Political Violence or Torture pre and post March

11, 2007

(n=24)

Frequency Percentage

Pre 3/11 Political violence 11 46

Pre 3/11 Torture 9 38

Post 3/11 Political violence 7 29

Post 3/11 Fear of political violence 24 100

Post 3/11 History of torture 16 67

Pre 3/11 Political violence OR torture 15 63

Post 3/11 Political violence OR torture 20 83

50 / Torture and Political Violence in Zimbabwe

Table 3:

Trauma History

(n=24 unless specified)

Frequency Percentage

Jailed 15 63

Abducted 5 21

Denied legal services in prison (n=15) 6 40

Delayed medical services in prison (n=15) 6 40

Denied medical services in prison (n= 15) 1 7

Continued physical symptoms 24 100

Corroborated physical symptoms 24 100

Significant psychological symptoms based on clinical interview

or diagnosis

24 100

Family persecuted/harassed 11 46

Perpetrators of pre 3/11 violence (n= 16)

CIO 3 19

Police 9 56

War Veterans 4 25

ZANU-PF Militia 2 13

ZANU-PF Youth 5 31

Perpetrators of post 3/11 violence (n=20)

CIO 2 10

Police 15 75

ZANU-PF Youth 2 10

Unknown 2 10

Table 4:

Frequency of Individuals Meeting cut-off for HSCL-25 and HTQ

Frequency above

cut-off

Percentage

Hopkins Symptom Checklist- 25 (n= 18)

Anxiety Subscale 16 88.9

Depression Subscale 15 83.3

Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (n= 17)

PTSD 13 76.4

A Crisis in Democracy, Health and Human Rights / 51

Table 5:

Most Frequently Endorsed Symptoms on HSCL-15 and HTQ

Frequency Percentage

Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 (n= 18)

Anxiety Subscale

Spells of terror or panic 11 61

Feeling restless, Can't sit still 10 56

Feeling fearful 10 56

Faintness, dizziness, or weakness 9 50

Nervousness or shakiness inside 9 50

Feeling tense or keyed up 9 50

Headaches 9 50

Depression Subscale

Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep 15 83

Worrying too much about things 13 72

Poor appetite 12 67

Feeling blue 12 67

Feeling lonely 12 67

Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (n=17)

PTSD

Recurrent thoughts or memories of the most

hurtful or terrifying events

16 94

Feeling on guard 15 88

Recurrent nightmares 14 82

Trouble sleeping 14 82

Feelings as though the event is happening

again

13 76

Sudden emotional of physical reaction

when reminded of the most hurtful or

traumatic events

13 76




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