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2007 Worst Year For Zimbabwe Human Rights - US State Department

The U.S Department of State has issued a report saying that 2007 was the worst year ever for human rights, human rights defenders and organized labor in Zimbabwe.

The report charges the Harare government with “pervasive and systematic abuse of human rights,” saying that abuses increased "significantly" through the year.

"The ruling (ZANU-PF) party's dominant control and manipulation of the political process through intimidation and corruption effectively negated the right of citizens to change their government," according to the Zimbabwe chapter of a global report from the State Department's bureau of democracy, human rights and labor.

"Unlawful killings and politically motivated abductions occurred. State-sanctioned use of excessive force increased, and security forces tortured members of the opposition, student leaders, and civil society activists," the report charged.

The document cites more than 8,000 instances of human rights violations with 1,600 unlawful arrests and detentions. Zimbabwean security forces “harassed, beat and arbitrarily arrested” opposition supporters governmental critics belonging to civic organizations, journalists and organized labor, the report said.

"The year 2007 was the worst year yet for human rights defenders in Zimbabwe," the report said.

Human rights attorney Otto Saki of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that rights defenders are also very concerned about the promotion and protection of social and economic rights in Zimbabwe.

He said that while 2007 was a bad year for human rights in Zimbabwe, the worst year of all might have been 2005 when the government evicted hundreds of thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans and demolished their homes in the name of urban renewal.

Elsewhere, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by Morgan Tsvangirai commemorated the events of March 11, 2007, when an opposition supporter was shot to death in a Harare suburb and Tsvangirai with other top officials were arrested and beaten by police for the next few days.

Correspondent Sylvia Manika reported on Tuesday's commemoration.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...