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Zimbabwe: Attacks on farmers & children must end


Zimbabwe: Attacks on farm workers and their children must end now

Workers on the farm of opposition MP for Chimanimani, Roy Bennett, including children as young as 8 years old, are being targeted in a series of violent attacks by state agents and ruling party supporters. Since the beginning of 2004, men, women and children have been assaulted, two women have been raped and one man has been killed.

Despite repeated appeals by Amnesty International the Zimbabwean government has failed to act in the majority of cases.

"The Zimbabwean authorities should take immediate steps to end the attacks on workers on Charleswood Farm and conduct thorough, impartial and transparent investigations into all allegations of human rights violations on the farm and bring those responsible for these abuses to justice," Amnesty International urged.

On Friday 2 April 2004, seventeen children from Roy Bennett's Charlswood Farm, ranging in age from eight to 17 years were stopped by soldiers on their way home from a football game. After being forced to assault each other they were then beaten by the soldiers. The incident was reported to the police. To date no arrests are known to have been made.

On 27 March 2004, four police officers reportedly forced their way into the home of a woman on Charleswood Farm, handcuffed and beat her. Later, three of the men left and the remaining officer raped her. The following morning the woman reported the rape at the local police station and identified the policeman who had raped her. Although police at the station arrested the police officer accused of rape, no action appears to have been taken against the three other officers involved in the attack.

On 6 February 2004, three women and two men working on Charleswood Farm were abducted by "war veterans" who severely beat the five workers and set dogs loose on them. One of the women, Violet Ngwenya, was later taken to another room and repeatedly raped. All five were released the following day, and reported the attack to the local police. To date no one has been arrested for these attacks.

Two days later, Shemi Chimbarara was shot and killed on Charleswood Farm, reportedly when members of the Zimbabwe National Army opened fire on a group of farm workers. Another farm worker, John Kaitano, was shot in the leg. The shootings were reported to the police. To date no-one has been arrested for these attacks.

Amnesty International is calling on the Zimbabwe authorities to ensure that the police and army abide by the highest standards of professionalism and respect for human rights.

Background

Amnesty International has previously reported on the systematic human rights abuses taking place on the farm of Roy Bennett.

On 19 March 2003, Steven Tonera, a security guard working on Charleswood farm was killed following a brutal attack by members of the Zimbabwe National Army. Steven Tonera was accused of training Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) soldiers and burning a bus during the 18-19 March nationwide mass stay-away called for by the MDC. He was beaten and reportedly tortured with electric shocks on his fingers, toes and knees. More than 80 other workers on the farm were also assaulted and badly beaten with batons, including farm manager Norman Gardiner and his wife Isobel. On 26 and 27 March 2003, up to 100 workers were attacked and beaten by intelligence officers from the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO). To date no one has been arrested for these attacks.

View all documents on Zimbabwe at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maab7ftaa5L0Hbb0hPub/

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