Horror in Zimbabwe

Episcopal priest and CEO of Physicians for Human Rights Frank Donaghue led an investigative team of public health investigators into Zimbabwe — and evaded Mugabe’s secret police to get the extraordinary story of the unfolding horror in Zimbabwe out according to a report from Frederick Clarkson, long time writer on politics and religion and co-founder of Talk2Action.

A doctor from Johns Hopkins University I interviewed for the story says that the scale of death and human suffering may be greater than Cambodia under Pol Pot, and that international inaction is reminiscent of the the neglect of the Rwandan genocide

Religion Dispatches carries Clarkson’s report on the death defying investigation of the situation in Zimbabwe:

What is the secret so horrible that President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe does not want the world to see? Why did he refuse visas for Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and Graca Machel of The Elders, a group of eminent statesmen, last fall? Why did Mugabe’s secret police keep a team of investigators from Physicians for Human Rights under surveillance in the week before Christmas last year—and try to arrest them before they could tell their story to the world?

In a report titled HEALTH IN RUINS: A Man-Made Disaster in Zimbabwe, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) revealed Mugabe’s dark secret this morning at a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa: President Mugabe’s regime was committing crimes against humanity. Desmond Tutu, the retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, said in a statement that the PHR report: “documents that the people of Zimbabwe are being denied the most basic of life’s necessities—access to health care, food, clean water, and even life itself. The world must take action against the Mugabe regime for these crimes against humanity.”

Excerpts from


A Man-Made Disaster in Zimbabwe: Crimes Against Humanity

…Robert Mugabe [has attempted] to conceal the appalling situation of his country’s people and to prevent the world from knowing how his Government’s malignant policies have led to the destruction of infrastructure, widespread disease, torture, and death.

The Cholera Epidemic is a Result of Human Rights Violations

The Mugabe regime intentionally suppressed initial reports of the cholera epidemic and has since denied or underplayed its gravity.

Healthcare Neither Accessible nor Affordable

…The dollarization of the economy since November 2008 has led to an economic apartheid in healthcare access. Since then, only a tiny elite with substantial foreign currency holdings can be said to have any real access to healthcare.

Human Rights and Torture

…A political environment marked by partisan violence, arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, torture, and extrajudicial killings have continued unabated since the March 2008 parliamentary and presidential elections.

Seizure of Farmland by the Ruling Elite

Under the guise of land redistribution to benefit landless black Zimbabweans, Mugabe instead awarded many of these once productive farms to government ministers…. The land seizure led to sharp falls in agricultural production…and increased food insecurity for millions.

The Collapse of Democracy, the Economy and Health Care

The health crisis in Zimbabwe is a direct outcome of the violation of a number of human rights, including the right to participate in government and in free elections and the right to a standard of living adequate for one’s health and well being, including food, medical care, and necessary social services.

PHR found that the Mugabe government has withheld food aid, seed, and fertilizer to rural provinces in order to starve political opponents; that the regime nationalized and then withheld routine support for municipal water and sewer systems from cities that elected political opponents; that the health care infrastructure and the economy itself is nearing utter collapse; corruption is the rule not the exception; and that the regime brutally silences critics to cover its crimes, profound corruption and incompetence.

Read more here.

Read the report here.

The BBC reports here.

Ekklesia reports here.

UPDATE: Clerics join Tutu in fasting for Zimbabwe here:

Two clerics have joined Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, in fasting in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, which faces a collapsing economic and political order and reports of a military alert amid fears of a coup.

Watch the video from Physicians for Human Rights below:

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