Can things get much worse for the people of Zimbabwe?

Clearly 2008 has not been a good year for the people of Zimbabwe. Intense hunger for millions, instability, violence and serious human rights abuses have ravaged much of the country this year.

And now with an outbreak of cholera sweeping the nation, Zimbabwe’s Health Minister has advised people to stop shaking hands for fear of spreading the disease any further.  While perhaps a practical and sensible move, this isn’t perhaps the best decision for peace and reconciliation across the country – something desperately needed in Zimbabwe at the moment.

And today’s news of an outbreak of anthrax in parts of the country has proven that when you think things can’t get much worse, they can.  Two children and one adult have already been killed by the deadly disease, and 32 others are infected according to today’s Independent.

The Telegraph reports that one of the cholera victims was a Women of Zimbabwe Arise (or WOZA) activist.  Julia Chapeyama had been repeatedly arrested and harassed by riot police who often sought to disrupt peaceful WOZA protests.

Brave WOZA activists are just some of the recipients of Amnesty International’s Greetings Card Campaign which is officially launched today.  Many of these rights defenders have spent a large part of 2008 in detention, after being arrested taking part in peaceful protests.  They‘ve definitely had a tough year.

It may seem like an small gesture in the face of the overwhelming situation in Zimbabwe. But WOZA activists themselves have told us that the cards of solidarity that they receive from people around the world makes a huge difference to them, as it means that they can stand stronger knowing that they have the support of others around  the world.  So if you have five minutes, please do send a card to WOZA activists, or any other cases.  It will certainly be worth it.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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