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World Parliamentarians Condemn Zimbabwe for Harassment of Legislators

The Inter-Parliamentary Union condemns the imprisonment of several members of Parliament in Zimbabwe who, it says, have suffered violence and harassment and seen their basic rights violated. The cases of these legislators are among hundreds examined by the IPUs Human Rights Committee, which has just wrapped up a week-long session in Geneva from where Lisa Schlein reports for VOA.

The IPU says another member of parliament, Oscar Lizcano is still being held by the FARC. And, hundreds of other legislators around the world also have been imprisoned, disappeared or threatened.

The IPU Human Rights Committee has spent a week reviewing the files of 282 imperiled legislators in 32 countries. It says the situation of parliamentarians in Zimbabwe is among the most disturbing.

IPU is an organization aimed at fostering cooperation among the parliaments of its 150 member countries.

Canadian Senator, Sharon Carstairs is President of the Committee. She highlights the cases of two parliamentarians who she fears may be in particular danger from the government of President Robert Mugabe.

One is that of Tendai Biti who belongs to the Movement for Democratic Change. She says he was badly beaten in 2007 and has again been taken into custody.

"As far as we know, he is being held without any contact whatsoever. The other upon whom we have lost contact is Nelson Chamisa. Both of these were the most recent elections in Zimbabwe. We know that both of them have been ill treated in the past. We know that the IPU has led the denunciation of both the recent presidential election and the most recent swearing in of the president, which we believe took place under totally illegal situations," she said.

The opposition MDC won a majority of seats in parliament in the March election. So far, President Mugabe has not called parliament into session. And his Zanu PF party is questioning a number of election results.

Carstairs says she is afraid that Zanu PF will fiddle with the results and Mugabe's Party will eventually end up with a majority of seats in Parliament.

She says it is critically important that countries keep up the pressure on Zimbabwe. It is particularly important, she says, that Zimbabwe's African neighbors condemn Mugabe's actions. "It has always been our hope that South Africa would be more aggressive in its condemnation of the activities in Zimbabwe. But, as you know, that has not been the case. Mr. Mbeke has not chosen to play that role. He has chosen to play a role which he believes is more conciliatory," she said.