Police in Harare, Zimbabwe, allowed activists of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association to observe International Human Rights Day on Monday - but only allowed them to assemble for 20 minutes in Africa Unity Square in the city center.
Correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from the scene.
In a related development, the South African-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum issued a statement calling on the international community to stand behind Zimbabweans facing human rights violations which it accused the Harare government and state agents of committing on a regular basis. It expressed the hope that a political accord emerging from South African-brokered crisis resolution talks will usher in a new Zimbabwe in which the rule of law, democracy and human rights are fully respected.
Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe Peace Project, a leading human rights group, said it has documented an upsurge in internecine violence within both the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the ruling ZANU-PF party.
In a report on political violence in October, the Peace Project said it recorded one case of politically inspired murder and a number of cases of assault, intimidation, harassment and unlawful detention. It cited two cases of politically-motivated rape in Harare and the Midlands. It said an opposition member in Kambuzuma, a suburb of Harare, raped a girl because her mother belonged to the ruling party.
Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that despite such evidence the government refuses to acknowledge the rise in rights violations across the country, including the denial of food aid to political opponents at a time of widespread food shortages.
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