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Local Rights Group Blasts Harare Over Treatment of Labor Leaders

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, an umbrella body for human rights groups in the country, added its voice Tuesday to protests of last week's arrests and alleged police beatings of trade union and opposition leaders. The group, which reports on a monthly basis on political violence, said the violence surpassed previous levels.

The NGO Forum statement echoed critisism of the government from regional and international labour organisations and human rights groups,as well as the U.S. and British governments. Organizations which have condemned the alleged beatings include the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions as well as its African subsidiary, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions..

A police spokesman said authorities will investigate the alleged beatings of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Secretary General Wellington Chibhebhe and 14 other activists while in custody at the Matapi station in Mbare, Harare. But the state-run Mirror newspaper quoted assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena as saying allegations made against the police “should not be taken on face value.”

Human rights lawyer Tafadzwa Muvingi of the NGO Forum told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that her group is pressing for a high-level investigation into the alleged incident of police brutality.

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