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News Crackdown In Zimbabwe

In December 2005, Zimbabwean police raided the Voice of the People office and confiscated equipment and documents in an attempt to put the station out of business. Under Zimbabwe’s repressive Broadcasting Services Act, six trustees of the station have been charged with broadcasting without a license. If convicted, they could face two years in prison.

Among the trustees arrested was Arnold Tsunga, who is also chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, or ZimRights. In a written statement, the international human rights group Amnesty International said, "ZimRights was approached by a soldier of the Zimbabwean army who told them that the military intelligence corps had been given orders to find Arnold Tsunga and kill him."

Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, says, "Zimbabwe's international standing is eroded every time the government seeks to silence the ever-fewer number of critical voices." Ms. Cooper said, "It's sad to see so much time and resources devoted to quashing the sort of diverse viewpoints that would invigorate Zimbabwean society."

In July 2005, two of Zimbabwe's most popular independent newspapers, the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday were once again denied permission to publish by Zimbabwe's Media and Information Commission. The commission had already closed down two other newspapers, the Tribune and the Weekly News.

The government of Robert Mugabe seems intent on using media laws to silence those who raise legitimate concerns about government corruption, high inflation and unemployment, high food prices, the destruction of the homes of hundreds of thousands of poor people, and the abuse of the rule of law.

Zimbabwe, says President George W. Bush, "has not been a good case study for democracy":

"We are concerned about a leadership that does not adhere to democratic principles, and obviously concerned about a country that was able to, for example, feed herself, now has to import food as an example of the consequences of not adhering to democratic principles."

By closing down media outlets and threatening journalists and human rights advocates, Zimbabwe continues to be what U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called "an outpost of tyranny."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.