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Farmers: We were attacked for not voting for Mugabe

  • Story Highlights
  • Attacks follow violence-plagued election in Zimbabwe, farmers say
  • Farmers say they are targeted for not supporting President Robert Mugabe
  • Witness: Militiamen drag stabbed one farmer to death with knives, spears
  • Mugabe's reps have denied that any retaliatory attacks have happened
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(CNN) -- Shortly after the recent election in Zimbabwe, one farmer there told CNN that 10 of his workers were ambushed by militiamen and severely beaten.

David Fombe says his house was set ablaze by suspected ZANU-PF members because he did not vote for Mugabe.

Another farmer said he saw militiamen drag a farmworker from his home and stab him to death with knives and spears.

And another said his family was held hostage Wednesday after a crew of war veterans who support President Robert Mugabe came to evict them.

The reason for the punishment: The farmers did not vote for Mugabe, they say.

"It is just retribution for the people who voted for the opposition. It is organized, and it is countrywide," said Mike Mason, the farmer who said he saw a farmworker stabbed to death.

Mugabe representatives have denied that any retaliatory attacks have been going on in the wake of the March 29 presidential and parliamentary election.

No results have been announced in the election; a vote recount is under way.

The delay, now almost four weeks long, has sparked local and international concern that Mugabe is trying to rig the election. Video Watch Mugabe's party claim victory in the parliament recount, according to state media »

Despite denials from the government, three farmers told CNN on Wednesday that Zimbabwean farmers and their paid workers are continually being targeted in retaliation for not voting for Mugabe.

The violence is coming at a crucial time, the farmers said. Now is the time that farmers need to plant crucial winter crops such as wheat.

"No farmers are even contemplating planting winter crops right now because they do not know if they will be around to see the crops grow," said a farmer who did not want to use his name for fear of retaliation.

"This is a terrible time because Zimbabwe's economy is struggling. There is no food on the shelves. It will cause terrible damage to the people of Zimbabwe."

Stories such as these have brought an international response. Human Rights Watch released a statement Saturday about the attacks saying that supporters of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party are targeting backers of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

"Torture and violence are surging in Zimbabwe," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director for Human Rights Watch. "ZANU-PF members are setting up torture camps to systematically target, beat, and torture people suspected of having voted for the MDC in last month's elections."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday urged the international community to speak out.

"What is happening in Zimbabwe -- failing to announce an election result, trying to rig an election result -- is completely unacceptable. I call on the whole world to express its view that this is completely unacceptable to the whole of the international community," Brown said while speaking in the House of Commons.

One of the farmers echoed that sentiment in an e-mail that was forwarded to CNN. That farmer said he was trapped at his farm for hours by war veterans who came to evict him.

The farmer said that for three hours, he could hear the men singing war songs at the gate around his land.


"The atmosphere is violent, and more and more of them have arrived," the farmer wrote in an e-mail to his son in the United States, who then forwarded it to CNN.

"Please pass this e-mail on to as many folk as you would like to, this illegal action must become 'known' throughout the world," the farmer wrote to his son. "We have to let the world know what is happening. For now please keep all of us in your prayers." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Talia Kayali contributed to this report.

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