TALKS MUST ADDRESS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED VIOLENCE

Fresh reports of killings – with two recent deaths of opposition party members in Zimbabwe - only confirm a pattern showing that ongoing violence in Zimbabwe is largely targeted at real or perceived opponents of the government, Amnesty International said. Opposition activists and supporters, real or perceived, have been intimidated and attacked, and at least thirteen have been killed, in rural areas by so-called 'war veterans' and other supporters of the ruling party, ZANU-PF. Some of the farms violently occupied by the 'war veterans' belong to farmers who are aligned to the opposition or provided transport for farm workers to vote in the referendum, and in some cases actively campaigned for a 'No' vote.

Maina Kiai, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Program, said:

'Far from condemning the abuses President Mugabe has thus far demonstrated a failure of leadership in repeatedly making statements supporting those responsible'.

'The atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the countryside is hampering freedom of assembly and association in the rural areas, particularly for those who do not support ZANU-PF, in the run-up to parliamentary elections, which must be held by August this year,' Amnesty International's spokesperson added.

Although opposition party supporters have also reportedly been implicated in the violence, most eyewitness reports from victims, onlookers and journalists identify the perpetrators of violence as being ZANU-PF members or supporters. There are also news reports of violent incidents between supporters of ZANU-PF and those of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), where, in some instances, supporters of both parties have been arrested.

'We once again urge President Robert Mugabe to condemn these violations and take adequate measures to stop the deterioration of human rights in Zimbabwe,' Amnesty International said, reiterating the call made in the recent open letter sent last week by the organisation to President Mugabe.

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