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on the brutal assault on opposition forces and the arrests of activists
Solidarity Peace Trust
March 20, 2007
The Solidarity Peace Trust condemns
the brutal assault on opposition forces and the arrests of more
than 50 activists that took place on 11 March 2007, in the context
of Zimbabwean police preventing a peaceful prayer meeting from being
The Trust condemns the killing of activist
Gift Tandare by the police on 11 March. There should be a full inquiry
into this killing, with culprits brought to justice. We further
condemn the shooting of two mourners at the funeral wake of Tandare,
and the heartless kidnapping of the corpse by the State for hurried
It is unacceptable that detainees were
brutally tortured in police custody, and were denied access to lawyers
and medical treatment for two days. The delayed access to medical
care, even after a High Court Order demanded access, has exacerbated
some of the injuries of those tortured.
Torture is never justified. The international
prohibition on torture is absolute and even a State of Emergency
would not justify it. Those responsible for acts of torture should
be brought to justice by the authorities in Zimbabwe, or in the
The existence of a three month ban
on public meetings of any kind is an unacceptable infringement on
the constitutional rights of all Zimbabweans to freedom of expression,
association and movement. These rights should be respected.
It is with shock we note the statement
of President Mugabe that "police have the right to bash them".
Police have no right to "bash" anyone under any law in
Zimbabwe, or in terms of any international conventions we are signatory
to. The Trust notes that the State culture of impunity, which emanates
from the highest office in the land, is generating a more general
culture of violence. When a government allows impunity to its uniformed
forces – when police officers who torture and murder are not brought
to justice, and are in fact told they have a right to do this -
it is tragically predictable that people’s patience will run out
and as anger and desperation rise, vigilante style violence will
rise. Reprisals have already taken place, with a bus of mourners
being vandalised, and three policewomen being tragically injured
in their beds by petrol bombs. In Bulawayo an alleged attempt to
derail a passenger train was thankfully unsuccessful. The situation
is spiralling into worsening cycles of violence and repression.
Innocent people are suffering in this cycle and will increasingly
do so. This is to be deeply regretted.
The danger of escalating violence is
a very deep concern to the Trust. We appeal to the government of
Zimbabwe to end the impunity of its uniformed forces immediately,
and to prosecute those who violate the rights of ordinary citizens.
The government should allow the citizens of Zimbabwe to hold peaceful
gatherings and should restore to them their constitutional rights
to do so. The government should refrain from inciting its supporters
to violence, as should all citizens of Zimbabwe.
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Peace Trust fact
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