Anti-Mugabe artist arrested

Police in Zimbabwe have shut down an art exhibition exploring violence blamed on President Robert Mugabe.

Artist Owen Maseko collected family photos of missing people, images of mine shafts where bodies were believed dumped and reports on an armed uprising after independence in 1980 in the western Matabeleland district that was crushed by troops loyal to Mugabe. Thousands of civilians were massacred in the fighting.



Attorney Kucaca Phulu said that Maseko, his client, spent the weekend in jail on incitement charges after police shut down the exhibit in Bulawayo Saturday.



Maseko sought bail but the court's ruling was postponed to today, Phulu said.



On Wednesday, police in Harare forced a human rights group to abandon a photo exhibit about political violence blamed on Mugabe's supporters.



Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader now in a year-old coalition government with Mugabe, opened that exhibition and condemned police for their repeated attempts to seize the 65 photographs that went on display, forcing organizers to eventually close the show.



Police tried to impound the exhibits after Tsvangirai left the Harare gallery where the exhibition was staged. Tsvangirai had said such exhibits were part of a campaign for national healing called for under the coalition deal brokered by neighboring South Africa.



As many as 20,000 civilians died in the Matabeleland uprising between 1982 and 1987 staged by disaffected guerrillas of the minority Ndebele tribe who fought in the bush war that ended white-rule in the former British colony of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence.



North Korean-trained troops of Mugabe's majority Shona tribe were accused of the massacre of village communities who allegedly assisted the rebels.



The fighting ended with a peace deal that made then-opposition leader Joshua Nkomo vice president to Mugabe. Nkomo died in 1999 and his former strongholds in the west of the country largely switched their allegiance to Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party.

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