Sunday, April 08, 2007

Zimbabwe Watch: 4-8-07

As the crisis in Zimbabwe brought about by Robert Mugabe's despotic rule continues to deepen, the regime has intensified its war on that country's few remaining sources of free expression:

-In late March, the Mugabe government threatened that it "may be forced to act against" foreign journalists and media outlets guilty of "biased" reporting. The regime has already banned the BBC and CNN from the country, among other news organizations.

-On March 31st, freelance cameraman Edward Chikomba was found beaten to death, several days after he was abducted from his house in Harare. According to Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), his murderers are "suspected of being members of the intelligence services".

-On April 1st, journalist Gift Phiri was arrested. He was released four days later, after having been beaten so badly that he went straight from jail to the hospital.

Sadly, these incidents are merely reflections of a broader climate of terror created by the Mugabe regime. These efforts have been so successful that, in the words of independent newspaper editor Wilf Mbanga, "freedom of expression in Zimbabwe is dead":

This week, death lists are circulating with names of journalists on them (myself and Gift Phiri among them), purportedly on the letterheads of the Central Intelligence Organisation and mentioning the president’s office. Whether genuine or an elaborate hoax, the message is the same – freedom of expression in Zimbabwe is dead, any attempt at freedom of the press is punishable by death.


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