Detained Zimbabwe activists in danger

HARARE - A respected association of doctors in Zimbabwe on Saturday unreservedly condemned the denial of access to medical treatment for eight sick and famished political prisoners illegally held at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for 105 days now.

The continued refusal for the political prisoners to access medical
treatment is a contemptuous violation of four court orders ordering
their release into a well-equipped and functioning medical facility.

On February 6, in a bid to hoodwink the courts which had cautioned the
State against ignoring court orders, prison guards took the political
prisoners to the Avenues Clinic where they were immediately admitted. A
few minutes later, gun-toting prison guards burst into the Avenues
Clinic and seized the eight hapless political prisoners, framed for
terrorism and banditry.

Dr Douglas Gwatidzo, president of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors
for Human Rights (ZADHR), addressed a joint press conference with Irene
Petras, head of the Zimbabwe Lawyers Association, expressing outrage at
the action.

The prison guards are said to have pulled out intravenous tubes after
facing resistance from doctors, carting the shocked political prisoners
into prison trucks amid serious protestations by doctors that the
political prisoners had life-threatening conditions.

Fidelis Chiramba, 72, a district chairperson of the MDC in Zvimba,
President Mugabe’s rural home, had a life threatening condition and
needed medical attention immediately, the doctor said.

Chiramba is facing framed charges of recruiting terrorists and bandits to overthrow President Mugabe and destabilise Zimbabwe.

"He was heavily assaulted and subjected to beatings on the soles of his
feet," said Petras. "He was put into a deep freezer, then removed, had
his clothes taken off and hot water was poured over his genitals. He
was made to parade naked in front of female abductees and his physical
build was mocked by his captors. He was never given any medical
treatment for his injuries."

"He exhibited signs of congestive cardiac (heart) failure secondary to
severe hypertension," Gwatidzo told the news conference. "He still
exhibits evidence of soft tissue injuries secondary to his assault."

Kisimusi Dlamini and Gandhi Mudzingwa, a former aide of MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, were also attended to by doctors on February 6 and
found to have serious medical conditions that needed hospitalisation.
Dlamini still exhibited evidence of falanga, a painful torture method
employing rubber truncheons to beat the soles of feet.

"ZADHR is very concerned about the grave medical condition that
Chiramba, Mudzingwa and Dlamini are in, and calls for their immediate
release to a properly equipped and functional hospital and for them to
be allowed to access the immediate medical assessment and treatment
they require," said Gwatidzo.

"Law enforcement agents, most notably the prison service, continue to
defy courts with no regard for public accountability," Petras said.
"The office of the Attorney General has taken no action to ensure that
these state actors comply with orders of the court and appreciate the
severity of their lack of compliance. They are therefore contributing
to the continued violation of his fundamental rights, and putting his
life in jeopardy, with complete impunity. He has become less than a
human being in the eyes of politicians and other state actors who have
the obligation and the power to ensure that he is protected from any
further violations of his rights."

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