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8/10/04 - SUPPRESSION IN ZIMBABWE - 2004-08-10

Zimbabwe is a nation in crisis. Its population faces a government-induced famine. Human rights and the rule of law have been replaced by arbitrary rule.

Many brave Zimbabweans continue to speak out against the violence, corruption, and mismanagement that they are forced to endure. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the closing of the Tribune newspaper “is the latest in a series of assaults on press freedom and on access to independent information in Zimbabwe”:

“It follows the government’s attempts to tighten controls on Internet use, last year’s forced closure of the Independent Daily News, and the ongoing intimidation, harassment, and prosecution of independent journalists.”

Journalists are not the only ones the Zimbabwean government is trying to suppress. Musicians in Zimbabwe are having difficulty getting their protest songs recorded. When they do, says an article in the Washington Post newspaper, “the songs are almost never played on radio stations, all of which are owned by the government.”

Thomas Mapfumo is a Zimbabwean who moved to the U.S. in 2002 because he feared for himself and his family. Today, says Mr. Mapafumo, “you are trying to tell the people the truth, what is happening in their country, and somebody is trying to shut you down.”

The struggle in Zimbabwe is not about foreign values or foreign interests. It is about the need for Zimbabwe to return to the democracy and rule of law that it enjoyed during its first fifteen years of independence. For the people of Zimbabwe, their freedoms have been curtailed and their economic opportunities have been wasted. Their revolution has been betrayed by some of its own authors.