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Home | ZimCrisis -- Hunzvi's surgery is turned into a torture centre

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 00:49:51 -0700
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From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis -- Hunzvi's surgery is turned into a torture centre
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By Marie Colvin

It is an evil inversion of the oath sworn by every doctor. In Harare, men can walk when they pass through the door of the surgery of Dr Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, the physician who has led the war veterans occupying farms throughout Zimbabwe. But they leave so bruised and battered that they can barely move.

Hunzvi's surgery in the Budiriro neighbourhood of the capital looks innocent enough at first glance. It is a single-storey concrete building with a tin roof, painted a pale blue and emblazoned with "Dr C Hunzvi, Surgery" in block capitals across the front.

But merely stopping in the road outside draws an angry swarm of menacing men through the front gate, who try to prevent the car from leaving when they see a white face. This former place of healing has become a torture centre.

A week and a half ago, about 50 men calling themselves war veterans moved into Hunzvi's surgery compound and began sending out gangs to kidnap local residents they suspected of supporting the opposition.

Once through the doctor's gates, their victims were subjected to hours of beatings and sadistic abuse. Their move into Harare was evidence that the violent campaign to intimidate people into voting for President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party had widened from the farms to the cities, the stronghold of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party.

A man who can be identified only as Emanuel was forced into the centre on Thursday. When I met him in the casualty ward of Harare hospital, he wore a detached blue hood to try to hide his injuries. His left cheekbone was swollen and his left eye blood-red.

He could barely hear because the "war veterans" had boxed his ears so ferociously. His back was a mass of bruises and welts that went all the way down his thighs. The welts on his buttocks were bleeding.

He wouldn't show me the worst of his injuries and I didn't want to look. His captors had tied a rubber strip tight around the tip of his penis and kept it bound for the 13 hours that they held him in the surgery, preventing him from urinating.

Emanuel's sin was to buy a membership card for the MDC, the party that hopes to challenge Zanu-PF in elections due by August. "About 12 of them picked me up near my friend's shop at about noon," Emanuel, 28, said. "I had no chance. They said you are MDC and drove me to Hunzvi's surgery."

Two other men were already on the floor, naked and bruised. His ordeal began at once.

"They beat me with electric cables and wooden poles like table legs," he said. "They kept shouting, tell us the names of your MDC members. I kept telling them I am just a simple man, I am not participating in the party, but they didn't care."

The Zanu-PF thugs based in Hunzvi's surgery are terrorising the neighbourhood. Residents call the surgery "the concentration camp". They named three other men who had been abducted, taken to the surgery and beaten, and said many more had suffered the same fate.

Hunzvi toured the country last week in a government helicopter with a delegation of white farmers, claiming to be seeking an end to the occupation of farms that has provoked weeks of violence.

On Friday, just hours after Emanuel was released from Hunzvi's surgery, the physician turned politician sat to Mugabe's left at a negotiating session with white farmers to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis. Three white farmers have been killed by his followers.

Mugabe, say those who have met him in recent weeks, turned on the farmers not so much because he wanted their land but because he was furious that they were helping finance the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the trade union leader.

Further anxiety swept the British community in Zimbabwe yesterday after the publication of a report in The Herald, the state-owned newspaper, that 86,000 people of British origin would be asked to surrender their Zimbabwe passports Western diplomats played down the report, saying information would be needed from the British government to implement any such initiative, and was unlikely to be forthcoming.

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Brief list of helpful sites on the issue:
- Comprehensive news updates -- http://www.1freespace.com/beetee
- Offers of and requests for help for Zimbabweans -- http://pub9.ezboard.com/boffersofhelp
- Commercial Farmers' Union -- http://www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
- Movement for Democratic Change -- http://www.in2zw.com/mdc
- Zimbabwe Democracy Trust -- http://www.zimbabwedemocracytrust.org
- BSAP Pursuit of Zimbabwean Criminals -- http://www.bsaphq.f9.co.uk