Today, under the unified
banner of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a diverse coalition of South
African and Zimbabwean groups will rally at 12noon at the Zimbabwe
Consulate in Johannesburg to demand the immediate and unconditional
release of detained political and civil society leaders in Zimbabwe.
More than 30 opposition
party and civil society activists were unlawfully assaulted and
arrested on Sunday while attempting to attend a peaceful prayer
meeting in Harare, organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign. One
member of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
was brutally shot and killed by police.
MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai is among those detained. He and fellow activists have
been severely beaten by the police and have so far been denied access
"The Zimbabwe state
has launched a full scale attack on human rights in Zimbabwe,"
said Roy Bennett, former MDC parliamentarian currently in exile
in South Africa. "These peaceful activists have been viciously
assaulted, beaten and tortured for exercising their internationally
protected freedoms of expression and assembly."
Activists are calling
this a climax in the spiralling increase of violations of fundamental
rights and civil liberties in Zimbabwe. Over the past few years,
repressive laws aimed at stifling space for any opposition have
systematically crushed the independent press, ensured most peaceful
demonstrations result in arrest and detention and have curtailed
peaceful civil society organisations.
diplomacy has not and will not work. South Africans must take a
stand," said Nicholas Mkaronda, executive director of Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition. "We will unite tomorrow to call
upon African governments to break their silence - to speak out loudly
against the flagrant state-led human rights abuses perpetrated against
our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe."
in Johannesburg tomorrow will include, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,
MDC, ZTAP, ZAM, CIVICUS, Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project, Freedom
House, Open Society Institute of Southern Africa.
The Save Zimbabwe Campaign
is the largest coalition of groups in Zimbabwe, which unites the
previously divided MDC, as well as labour unions, students, churches,
youths, women's organisations and other political parties.
For more information,
please contact the Campaign Zimbabwe Campaign spokespeople in South
Africa, Nicholas Mkaronda (Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition) at +27
(0)84 811 651