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6/15/03 - ARRESTS IN ZIMBABWE - 2003-06-16

President Robert Mugabe continues his assault on Zimbabwe and its people. The daily human rights abuses by his regime include arbitrary arrests, detention, beatings, and intimidation of political opponents and members of civil society. The United States, said State Department spokesman Philip Reeker, is “deeply concerned about the ongoing detention of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party:

“The opposition leaders have been accused of treason for their efforts to organize peaceful protests, and, in reality, the violence and coercion that have been propagated by the Mugabe regime have inflicted, as anyone can see, overwhelming hardship on the people. These have been inflicted by the government and its supporters, and they have disrupted civil society. They’ve devastated the economy.”

Today, over half of Zimbabwe’s twelve-million people face the threat of famine. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, often forcibly, at the hands of government militia or police. Seventy percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed and the annual inflation rate is more than two-hundred-fifty percent and continues to rise. The roots of this catastrophe lie in the actions of President Mugabe and his inner circle.

Zimbabwe could be a model -- and a breadbasket -- for the entire region. But instead, Mr. Reeker says, the Mugabe regime has become a destructive force:

“And it’s time for the government to think about the people of Zimbabwe as well as the region that this is affecting. Their continued recalcitrance stands in the way of a process to improve life for Zimbabweans and to put the country back on the course of democracy, stability, and prosperity.”

By demonstrating his disregard for human rights and democracy, Robert Mugabe has succeeded in reducing a once promising nation to a state of fear, isolation, and ruin. It is a legacy for which he will not be forgotten.