A private hospital in central Harare was overflowing with the walking wounded, several of whom were sexually assaulted as the army laid into the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) following a two-day strike last week. “I was sleeping naked, and they took me and sexually assaulted me with AK47,” said Sonia Kulinji, 47, whose house in an MDC stronghold was invaded by soldiers wielding pipes and weapons in an overnight raid. Doctors later confirmed she had sustained severe genital bruising. Another woman, Sharon Nel, 48, said she had prevented five uniformed men from raping her by shouting that she had AIDS. [from the Daily Telegraph, New York Sun, 3/24/03]

[T]wo opposition MPs were arrested and, according to Amnesty International, up to 500 people were being held on allegations that they participated in last week’s strike….

The Zwakwana human rights monitoring group said that Harare emergency wards are treating people for broken bones, bruising and sexual assault after they were beaten with wire whips, iron bars, electrical cords and rifle butts by ruling party militias, uniformed soldiers and police reservists. Witnesses said they saw police and ruling party youth militias taking part in assaults. Staff members at one private clinic said its emergency services treated 200 people….

Speaking last Friday, Mr Mugabe … warned opposition leaders that “those who play with fire will not only be burnt but consumed”. [Guardian, 3/24/03]

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