Honorable Robert Mugabe
President of Zimbabwe
Dear Mr. President,
You once represented hope and freedom to people not only in Africa but around the world. Now millions everywhere are watching the case of two Zimbabwean journalists as a test of your continued commitment to those ideals.
We want to express our extreme dismay and disappointment over the unlawful detention, torture and pending trial of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto of The Standard, a weekly newspaper based in Harare. As Nieman Fellows at Harvard University, we represent news organizations from around the globe and are honored to have Chavunduka among our group of fellows.
We strongly oppose the January imprisonment of these two dedicated journalists in retaliation for their reporting. We abhor the use of torture to extract names of sources and to suppress free speech. People everywhere consider the attacks against the two men as an attack against free speech and, as such, an attack against us all.
As individuals who passionately believe in the sanctity of free speech, we urge you to drop all charges against Chavunduka and Choto. We further implore you to promptly investigate the documented physical abuse of the two men at the hands of your country‚s security forces.
We urge you to exercise statesmanship and show your commitment to democratic values by dismissing the specious charges against these two journalists. In the eyes of the world, they are a symbol of your commitment to human rights and democracy.
Deputy editor, The Pretoria News
Owner, City Radio, Nis, Serbia
Ragip Duran Correspondent, La Liberation, Istanbul
Reporter, Newsday, New York USA
News director, Canal 9, Asuncion, Paraguay
Italian News Agency, Ankara, Turkey
Freelance journalist, Jakarta, Indonesia
Program director, NHK, Tokyo, Japan
Editor, Iran News, Tehran, Iran
Correspondent, Outlook, New Delhi
Reporter, The News & Observer, Raleigh, USA
Deputy editor, Korean Broadcasting System, Seoul, Korea
Reporter, CBC, Vancouver, Canada
Mary Kay Magistad
China correspondent, NPR, USA
Reporter, Los Angeles Times, USA
Correspondent, NPR, Chapel Hill, USA
Reporter, The Charlotte Observer, USA
Reporter, The San Francisco Chronicle, USA
Reporter, The Los Angeles Times, USA
Reporter, The Miami Herald, USA
Reporter, Akron Beacon-Journal, USA
Columnist, Richmond Times-Dispatch, USA
Washington correspondent, The Buffalo News, USA
(All of the Class of 2000 except Mark Chavunduka signed the letter)