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Amnesty For The Mugabe Regime in Zimbabwe?

April 10, 2009

If you are a corrupt government leader using violence to loot the country you are running and to scare off any challengers to your dictatorial throne, what strategy do you use when your grip on power starts to loosen? If you are a member of President Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe, you begin to kidnap and torture members of the opposition party into guaranteeing you amnesty from prosecution for your decades-long history of kidnap, torture, murder and theft. Celia W. Dugger at the New York Times has the story here.

What do Mugabe and his supporters have to fear? A short description of some of their crimes:

The crimes committed to entrench Mr. Mugabe’s rule date back to the 1980s, when thousands of civilians from Zimbabwe’s Ndebele minority in Matabeleland were killed by the notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Army brigade, according to historians.

Force Marshal Perence Shiri, right, commanded the notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland under President’s Mugabe’s rule in Zimbabwe in the 1980s.

Among the Ndebele, the tears of the living must be shed to release the souls of the dead. But the Fifth Brigade insisted that there be no mourning for those they killed, and in some cases shot family members because they wept, according to “Breaking the Silence,” a 1997 investigation based on the testimonies of more than 1,000 witnesses.

Other political crimes include widespread attacks on the opposition in 2000, 2002 and 2005, and most gruesomely last year. Beyond that, a vast 2005 slum clearance effort known as Operation Murambatsvina, or Get Rid of the Filth, drove 700,000 people in opposition bastions from their homes.

Last year, close to 200 people were killed, mostly before the June presidential runoff between Mr. Mugabe and the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and thousands were tortured in state-sponsored attacks, but so far no one has been prosecuted, according to a State Department human rights report released in February.

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