Zimbabwe: Tony Blair must ask for commitment from Thabo Mbeki
The two leaders are due to meet on Saturday 1 February at Chequers. Amnesty International believes that Thabo Mbeki is well-placed to raise concerns over human rights violations and repression with Robert Mugabe on his return.
'Pressure needs to be applied to President Mugabe of Zimbabwe in order to end the harassment, arrest and torture of those who peacefully oppose the regime' said Stephen Bowen, Campaigns Director, Amnesty International.
'For too long now the police have been involved in violent repression ? the same police who will be responsible for order at the cricket world cup.'
Amnesty International would like the Prime Minister to highlight three key demands:
- The end of the political misuse of the police by the Zimbabwe regime;
- Peaceful freedom of expression and right of assembly to be recognised;
- The legitimate activities of human rights activists and journalists to be safeguarded.
In a mission to Zimbabwe earlier in January, Amnesty International found that the level of fear among human rights activists has never been greater, and called for the international community to redouble its efforts to protect human rights in Zimbabwe.
Incidents recorded by Amnesty International include:
- On 22 January the Amani Trust, a human rights organisation which works with victims of torture, received threats to fire-bomb its offices. The organisation had already suspended most of its activities in Zimbabwe because of fears for the safety of its employees.
- On 20 January Pauline Mpariwa, Member of Parliament (MP) for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for Mufakose, Harare, was arrested and held for two days before being released without charge.
- Previously, on 15 January Job Sikhala, MDC MP for St Mary's, also in Harare, Gabriel Shumba, a legal officer with the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Charles Mutama, Bishop Shumba and T. Magaya were arrested by the police. Medical evidence presented in court on 17 January indicated that the five men had been beaten on the soles of their feet and tortured with electricity.
- On 11 January Elias Mudzuri, the mayor of Harare and a member of the MDC was arrested together with 21 councillors and municipal workers for allegedly addressing a political meeting without clearance from the relevant authorities.