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Zimbabwe Activists Given 20 Minutes To Observe World Human Rights Day

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.

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