Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Bureau of Public Affairs
December 7, 2007
Zimbabwe: Escalating Violence in 2007PDF version
“In Zimbabwe, ordinary citizens suffer under a tyrannical regime. The government has cracked down on peaceful calls for reform and forced millions to flee their homeland. The behavior of the Mugabe regime is an assault on its people -- and an affront to the principles of the Universal Declaration.”
– President George W. Bush
REGIME CRACKDOWN: 2007 is the worst year yet for defenders of freedom in Zimbabwe. Despite recent efforts by regional leaders to resolve the ongoing crisis, the assault against human rights and democracy by Robert Mugabe’s government has accelerated.
THE CONSENSUS: Numerous internationally recognized organizations agree that the Mugabe regime has failed to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and note that human rights abuses, particularly political violence, are on the rise. Further, Amnesty International, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, the International Bar Association, and Redress, among others, contend that the Mugabe government has failed to protect rights set forth in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.1
THE VICTIMS: The Mugabe regime has used Zimbabwean security and intelligence forces and youth militias to intensify its campaign against peaceful citizens exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. Zimbabweans from all walks of life have been targeted, including the political opposition, democracy and human rights activists, religious leaders, labor unions, women’s groups, journalists, and students. Victims are attacked at locations across the country, including homes, workplaces, shopping centers, university campuses, peaceful rallies, and police stations.
6,000 VIOLATIONS and Counting: Recent reporting from Zimbabwean NGOs suggests an appalling trend: Over 6,000 instances of human rights abuse have been reported since the beginning of 2007, with at least 500 violations occurring each month2 and over 1,400 attacks against students alone.3
Sources: 1 Zimbabwe: Human Rights in Crisis, Shadow Report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Amnesty International, May 2007; 2 Zimbabwe Peace Project; 3 Students Solidarity Trust; 4 Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights; 5 Zimbabwe Human Rights NGOForum; 6 Graph based on data from: At Best a Falsehood, At Worst a Lie: Comments on the Zimbabwe Republic Police Reports “Opposition Forces in Zimbabwe: ATrail of Violence,” Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.
United States Department of State Publication 11474