Friday, March 23, 2007
SW Radio Africa, Zimbabwe reports opposition leaders Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland left Harare on Thursday for South Africa to receive medical treatment. They were originally stopped from leaving on Saturday by security agents and were placed under armed guard in the hospital.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said Kwinjeh and Holland, who were seriously injured after they were tortured while in detention recently, had to be ferried on stretcher beds from the plane when they arrived in South Africa.
The emergency evacuation of the two came after a court order was issued on Wednesday granting them permission to leave the country.
Australian consul in Zimbabwe Mark Lynch escorted the two to the airport yesterday without incident amid fears they might be forcibly prevented from leaving or even killed. Sekai Holland is an Australian citizen.
The move came about the same time that a letter from a human rights group in Zimbabwe released an open letter condemning the refusal by the government to allow the two to leave the country to receive medical care.
Holland and Kwinjeh were among dozens of activists, including MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai, who were arrested and beaten by police as they tried to hold a prayer rally in Harare on March 11.
The following is a letter sent to the Zimbabwe Independent from the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) written prior to the two getting out of the country.
Concern over violation of activists' health rights
THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) expresses grave concern over the continuing violation of the health rights of opposition party leaders, particularly Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland.
Both Kwinjeh and Holland were tortured in police custody on March 11 and sustained serious injuries as follows:
Holland — multiple fractures to her left leg and left arm, severe, extensive and multiple soft tissue injuries to the back, shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs.
Injuries she sustained were also worsened by denial of timely access to medical treatment which led to an infection of deep soft tissue in her left leg; and
Kwinjeh — a split right ear lobe, severe, extensive and multiple soft tissue injuries to the back, shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs and a brain contusion.
The two activists were prevented from seeking further medical attention in South Africa on March 17 when they were blocked from boarding an air ambulance and forcibly taken from Harare International Airport to Harare Central police station where their travel documents were confiscated by Assistant Commissioner Mabunda of the Law and Order Section.
At the station, the ambulance was instructed to take Kwinjeh and Holland back to the Avenues Clinic where they were placed under police guard.
These activists have a right to seek medical care at institutions of their choice. ZADHR calls upon the authorities violating this right to allow these two activists to seek the medical care they have chosen.
On March 18, Nelson Chamisa, who was also tortured on March 11, was attacked at Harare International Airport, sustaining a fractured right orbit and sub-conjunctival haemorrhage (under the lining of the eye) as well as multiple lacerations on the face.
ZADHR condemns the continuing violations of health rights of Zimbabwean citizens and requests the Minister of Health and Child Welfare (David Parirenyatwa), ZiMA and other regional national medical associations to take a position on this matter and apply the influence in their capacity to put an end to these violations.