CHINHOYI, ZIMBABWE — A group of white Zimbabwean farmers were reunited with their families yesterday, after two weeks in jail charged with inciting violence.
The men were arrested on Aug. 6 in the northwestern town of Chinhoyi for allegedly assaulting supporters of President Robert Mugabe on a white-owned farm occupied by self-styled war veterans.
"Things are still a bit tense. None of them wants to talk to the press. They are still very scared, and their court case is coming up," a Commercial Farmers' Union spokesman in Chinhoyi told Reuters.
Zimbabwe has been in crisis since February of last year, when militants invaded white-owned farms in what they say is support for Mr. Mugabe's campaign to seize white farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
The land seizure campaign has been criticized by Western governments, including the United States and Britain, and has depressed foreign investor sentiment toward southern Africa.
Western countries have also expressed concern at what they say is increasing intimidation of the media, judiciary, and political opposition in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe says it is immoral for some 4,500 whites to own the bulk of Zimbabwe's prime farmland, while majority blacks are still crammed into unproductive areas.
Farmers say the settlers, led by self-styled war veterans - some of whom are too young to have fought in the 1970s independence war - have already claimed agricultural land across the country.