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Cablegate: Little Evidence of Agricultural Chemical Use On

VZCZCXRO6494
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0673 2211217
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 081217Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3270
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2205
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2324
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0856
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1601
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1959
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2380
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4811
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1473
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS HARARE 000673

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/S FOR G. GARLAND
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI
SUBJECT: LITTLE EVIDENCE OF AGRICULTURAL CHEMICAL USE ON
POLITICAL VICTIMS

REF: HARARE 652

1. (SBU) Despite media reports that the pesticide paraquat
has been used by ZANU-PF militia on political victims, there
is no scientific evidence to substantiate the claims.
Paraquat, an herbicide used on tobacco plantations in
Zimbabwe, has reportedly been used in two ways: forced
ingestion or on the skin, particularly in beatings.

2. (SBU) In a briefing with diplomats on July 22, Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) Social Welfare Secretary, Kerry
Kay said that they believed there had been 30 incidents
involving beatings with sticks soaked in paraquat. There are
other reports of MDC supporters being forced to ingest
paraquat or other poisons. But Dr. Frances Lovemore, the
Counseling Services Unit (CSU) director, told diplomats on
August 5 that there is no way to corroborate these
allegations. Zimbabwe does not have the equipment to perform
the necessary toxicology tests. She also noted that paraquat
is expensive, not easily obtainable, and not widely used in
rural areas. While it is possible that agricultural
chemicals have been used in torture cases, she said it is
unlikely to have occurred on a large scale. Dr. Lovemore's
opinion substantiates the assessment by Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo,
director of Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, in a
conversation with poloff in early July.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: Reports of agricultural chemicals to
poison or torture political victims are disturbing. While
they may have been used in isolated cases, usage in cases of
political violence does not appear to have been widespread or
systematic. END COMMENT.

MCGEE

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