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Beating Protesters In Zimbabwe

The U.S. condemns the government of Zimbabwe’s suppression of planned marches organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, or Z-C-T-U. U.S. condemnation includes detention and beating of some of the protestors. In a written release, the U.S. State Department says, "Over one-hundred individuals were arrested including senior trade union leaders, and some were severely beaten as part of the effort to prevent the marches from taking place."

The marches were to be held in Harare, Bulawayo, and elsewhere in Zimbabwe. They were called in response to harsh economic conditions in Zimbabwe as well as the lack of access to drugs that fight H-I-V/AIDS.

According to news reports, among those beaten by Zimbabwean authorities was Wellington Chilebe, head of the Z-C-T-U, and Lovemore Matombo, its secretary-general. Also among those beaten was Yoendepi Shonhe, a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party. A physician attending to some of the victims told a reporter, "As a case of police brutality on a group, it is the worst I've ever seen."

Various organizations had planned to participate in the marches, among them the Zimbabwe National Students Union. The Union's president, Promise Mkwanazi, offered this comment:

"I think it remains the only viable option – peaceful democratic resistance [to] the current regime because the government has demonstrated its unwillingness to address the people's concerns in a more rational way."

The U.S. State Department says that the Zimbabwe government's "actions against those wishing to protest on behalf of greater democracy, better wages, and access to treatment for AIDS sufferers is another example of its denial of the basic rights of its citizen." The U.S. "call[s] for the immediate release of those detained and access to medical treatment for those who were injured."

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