Society - International - Zimbabwe - Conflicts - Politics
Panick strikes Zimbabwe as hospitals choke with tortured victims
Doctors at two secret medical centers set up in Harare and Bulawayo speak of being overwhelmed with patients suffering burns, beatings and wounds received during torture sessions by youth militia and aging veterans loyal to Robert Mugabe.

from our correspondent in Harare

A doctor at the clinic, set up on March 15, who spoke on condition of anonymity says he and his staff members were working "impossible hours" to cope with admissions. "All the private clinics across the country are receiving people burned and whipped as well as women who have been raped by militias," he said.

He said that some of the injuries had been inflicted by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), a secret police organization that reports directly to the president’s office.

"We have problems getting people in here because ambulances and even private vehicles trying to ferry the wounded from rural areas are turned back by the army or the CIO," he said.

In Bulawayo, an organizer for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the area was "like a war zone."

Youth militia and veterans are forcing people to admit they had voted the wrong way in the March 29 election, in which the MDC won a parliamentary majority from Mugabe"s party.

Last week MDC claimed that 10 of there supporters had been killed. The militia who go around in groups of 10 to 20, beat people and threaten to burn down their huts, doctors say.

One doctor who prefers to be called Dr Chris say that one of his patients had told him that the militia group which beat him up carried Chinese-made AK-47 rifles.

"They have no ammunition, but they have warned us that they will soon have bullets and that by voting for the MDC, we have chosen to make war with the government," she said.

Bullets were part of a shipment of arms on a Chinese ship that was forced to turn back because neighbors of landlocked Zimbabwe refused to let the cargo be unloaded.

Human rights organizations including Amnesty International have condemned the latest violence, and some have published photographs of patients in various medical centers, showing whip marks and burns.


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