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on police raids in Harare
Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and The Southern
Africa Litigation Centre(SALC)
– In police raids yesterday, approximately thirty five individuals
linked with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were arrested
and detained. Also arrested was MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai,
although he was later released.
At present the
whereabouts of the thirty five individuals are unknown although
well-placed sources believe that tactics like those used during
the brutal police crackdown on March 11 are being deployed – when
detainees were continuously moved between police stations in order
to frustrate access to families, legal representation and medical
again not only being denied access but are themselves threatened.
Lawyers who appeared at Harare’s Central police station yesterday
afternoon, attempting to determine the location of the detainees,
were told that if they returned, they would be arrested. Otto Saki
of Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights (ZLHR) says that an urgent application seeking
immediate access to the detainees has been launched.
come amid increased reports of random violence directed by military
forces against Zimbabwean civilians. Yesterday, large sections of
Harare were cordoned off as armed forces staged random searches
of individuals moving through these areas, ostensibly searching
have been subjected to invasive searches of their homes and persons.
In one such instance, Peter Bhakosi, chairperson of Harare’s Ward
11 , was confronted in the early hours of yesterday morning by about
20 armed police who proceeded to dig up his backyard. Again, the
ostensible purpose was a suspicion of arms stockpiling.
But says Ozias
Tungwarara, director of OSISA’s affiliate, Afrimap: "It is
not overly speculative to suppose that these recent arrests and
searches are being carefully orchestrated with the intention of
legitimizing the government’s recent actions. It won’t be surprising
to learn that the detainees are to be charged with treason or some
other offence related to violence against the state. All this happens
at the exact moment that Mugabe is meeting with other SADC heads
of state in Tanzania, and it allows him to say, ‘ we’re dealing
with an opposition bent on violence and our tactics are justified.’
Certainly, this wouldn’t be the first time that the Zimbabwean government’s
leadership has sought to smear its opponents and legitimize its
own brutal tactics by falsely alleging arms possession and stockpiling."
And says Tawanda
Mutasah, director of OSISA: "Mugabe and his allies have consistently
pulled the wool over the eyes of their African neighbours using
a combination of diversionary national theatrics as well as blatant
untruths. Only recently, a thirteen page propaganda document was
issued by Mugabe’s Foreign Minister to all African embassies claiming
that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was at no time assaulted
in police custody."
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