(Image: Sokwanele). Ethan Zuckerman has been keeping a close watch on the worsening situation in Zimbabwe. Why might that government have found itself suddenly in need of 3 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition? Apparently, because Zimbabwe's health minister needed to reload. Snip:
Chris McGreal, reporting for the Guardian, begins his story with this paragraph:Link to the full text of Zuckerman's post. Global Voices, the organization he co-founded, has some 56 posts and counting right now about the situation in Zimbabwe.
ZIMBABWE’S Health Minister armed himself with a Kalashnikov and threatened to kill opposition supporters forced to attend a political meeting unless they voted for Robert Mugabe in a second round of the presidential election, witnesses say.
And I thought campaigning in Pennsylvania had gotten rough.
McGreal’s story, titled “It’s Mugabe or death, voters told” focuses on a climate of rising rural violence, designed to intimidate MDC supporters in a second round of voting. Many of these attacks have occurred in Mashonaland East province, a traditional ZANU-PF stronghold, and the home of the armed and dangerous minister, David Parirenyatwa.
There’s a growing body of photographic evidence to support reports that opposition supporters are being detained and beaten. Sokwanele, a Zimbabwean activist group based in Bulawayo, is maintaining one of the world’s most disturbing photo albums, a collection of photos of citizens hospitalized for injuries they received in beatings. The most recent photos are of a 38-year old man, beaten with chains and fan belts to punish him for driving citizens to MDC rallies before the election. (The previous two links lead to graphic and disturbing images.)
This is useful context for understanding the saga of the An Yue Jiang, a Chinese vessel carrying 3 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, rocket propelled grenades and mortar rounds for delivery to the Zimbabwean government. The ship attempted to dock at Durban, a South African port, but a strike by South African transport workers and a court decision banning transit of the weapons through South Africa forced the vessel to find another port.
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Previously on Boing Boing:
* Mapping post-election violence in Zimbabwe
* The Million Zimbabwe Dollar Homepage
* Zimbabwe: Mugabe enacts law to spy on phones, 'net, mail