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President of journalists' union brutally assaulted; freelance journalist abducted, whereabouts unknown

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ press release:

IFJ Calls on Zimbabwe Government to End Harassment of Media after Attack on Journalists Union leader

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the government of Zimbabwe to end harassment of media after an attack on Matthew Takaona, President of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), and called for an investigation into the abduction of Stanley Karombo, a freelance journalist.

"We are very worried about the worsening conditions journalists face in Zimbabwe," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. "We condemn the attack on Matthew and call on the government to conduct investigations into this attack and the reported abduction of Stanley."

In recent weeks the government of President Robert Mugabe has cracked down on journalists in the country in the midst of political unrest. At least five foreign media workers and two Zimbabwean journalists have been arrested for their coverage of tensions in the country after the opposition reportedly won presidential and parliamentary elections held on March 29.

On Thursday night Takaona was brutally assaulted by individuals wearing national army uniforms. His attackers also robbed him of a substantial sum of money.

Karombo has reportedly been abducted by unknown persons and his whereabouts are unknown.

Another journalist, Frank Chikowore, was arrested on April 15. According to news reports, his lawyers filed an urgent application in the High Court Thursday to have him taken to hospital. Chikowore, a freelancer, was arrested on arson charges during an opposition strike. The IFJ believes the charges against him are without merit and has called for his release.

The former secretary general of the ZUJ Luke Tamborinyoka who is now an information director of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was arrested along with the Chikowore and others and has been in police cells since.

The IFJ calls for the release of all journalists in the country.

Four of the foreign journalists arrested in Zimbabwe were cleared of charges this week and released. A fifth journalist was convicted of making a false declaration of the motives for his presence in the country and was deported.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

For further information on the Chikowore case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/92811

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