UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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Alarmed by violence in Zimbabwe, Arbour urges restraint



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GENEVA -- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said Sunday that she was alarmed by reports of continuing violence in the aftermath of the Zimbabwe elections, and called for political leaders to restrain their supporters.

She said she had received reports of acts of violence, including serious human rights violations, by an array of different forces apparently including agents of the state and various groups supporting the government or other political parties.

"I am particularly concerned about reports of threats, intimidation, abuse and violence directed against NGOs, election monitors, human rights defenders and other representatives of civil society," Arbour said. "The information I have received suggests an emerging pattern of political violence inflicted mainly, but not exclusively, on rural supporters of the opposition MDC party. However, there are also some reports of MDC supporters resorting to violence and intimidation."

Arbour called on the political leadership on both sides to restrain their supporters and clearly renounce the use of threats, intimidation and violence against opponents.

"If tolerance and respect for human rights continue their steep decline, the consequences will be grave for all Zimbabweans, and lead to further problems for neighbouring states," Arbour said. "If serious and systematic human rights violations persist, they will undermine national and regional attempts to diffuse the present political crisis."

Arbour called on the Government of Zimbabwe and its legitimate security forces "to discharge their lawful responsibilities in a non-partisan manner, in order to restore the rule of law, and ensure the protection of all Zimbabweans, irrespective of whom they do or do not support politically.."