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UN condemns Zimbabwe violence after politician takes refuge at Dutch embassy

[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] condemned the increasing violence against opposition activists and politicians in Zimbabwe in a presidential statement [text] issued Monday. The statement calls on the government of Zimbabwe to "stop the violence, to cease political intimidation, to end the restrictions on the right of assembly and to release the political leaders who have been detained." The Security Council's statement comes after Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Sunday announcement of his withdrawal from the country's presidential run-off election [AFP report], scheduled for this Friday, and took refuge at the Dutch embassy in Harare. Tsvangirai cited the increasing violence against his party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website], by the government of President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Tsvagirai indicated that he would leave the embassy when he felt safe enough to do so [AFP report], but stated that he could not ask his supporters to risk their lives by voting given the threat of violence from Mugabe's government. The New York Times has more. BBC has additional coverage.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are disputing the results of the recent presidential elections [JURIST news archive]. The MDC has estimated that at least 65 of its members have been killed [BBC report] since the first election in March. Human rights groups suggested that state-sponsored violence would only increase as the second presidential vote drew closer, and in the past few weeks the amount of election-related violence has increased, including the beating [ABC News report], torture [National Post report], and killing [NYT report] of MDC supporters throughout Zimbabwe. Last week, Mugabe's government expelled a UN human rights observer [JURIST news report]. Earlier this month, government forces stopped and detained US and UK diplomats [JURIST report], threatening them and beating one of their drivers.

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