Terror and neglect

Our view: People of Zimbabwe, Myanmar demand world's attention

June 06, 2008

The despots are having a bloody field day.

In Zimbabwe, President Robert G. Mugabe's surrogates continue to terrorize his people for the sin of exercising their free will. Since the March election, when Mr. Mugabe failed to win a majority, Zimbabweans have been harassed, assaulted and attacked, and as many as 65 killed. The mayhem led opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to decamp abroad for seven weeks, and since his return May 24 to compete in the presidential runoff election, he has faced a series of indignities. The most recent was his arrest this week on the bogus charge of campaigning too far in advance of the June 27 vote. Three of his followers weren't as lucky; they were shot and killed by unknown gunmen in an office of Mr. Tsvangirai's political party. In another chilling turn, the government abruptly banned the work of one of the largest relief agencies in the country; that leaves fewer witnesses to the government's reign of violence and more hungry Zimbabweans who depend on CARE's aid operations.

President Bush and other world leaders have condemned Mr. Mugabe's tactics, but participants at a U.N. global food summit in Rome should have banned the Zimbabwe president from the event or, at the very least, shown him the door.

In Myanmar, weeks after a devastating cyclone ravaged the country, killing tens of thousands, the military junta still refuses to expedite needed food and relief supplies to survivors in outlying areas.

Although the government has permitted shipments of relief aid to the capital of Rangoon, it has banned foreign military helicopters from venturing into the most devastated areas of the country. Its behavior no longer can be explained as shocking indifference. It borders on criminal neglect. While the country's military leaders insist they can address the problem, their incompetence will be measured in the loss of human lives.

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