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This article participates on the following special index pages:
2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles
about looming crackdown on civil society in Zimbabwe
April 04, 2008
CIVICUS: World Alliance
for Citizen Participation is seriously concerned about recent reports
of the detention of foreign journalists in Zimbabwe, as well as
threats to civil society.
are a disturbing indication that the Zimbabwean government is trying
to silence any critical voices. We appeal to the authorities to
ensure the space for public comment is re-opened and the rights
of both media and civil society are protected. We also urge President
Mbeki, on behalf of Southern Africa, to show leadership in calling
for the protection of these rights, said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary
General of CIVICUS.
Yesterday evening a number
of raids were carried out at various locations in Harare during
which five foreign journalists were arrested. Three of the journalists
have since been released. Two remain detained at the Harare Central
Police Station and have been charged with practising journalism
During the run-up
to the elections, a number of civil society activists reported harassment
and intimidation. Members of civil society groups including Women
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), the Progressive
Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and Restoration of
Human Rights Zimbabwe (RoHRZ) were reportedly beaten and arrested
during peaceful rallies since January 2008.
In an earlier
appeal to the Southern African Development Community's (SADC)
Electoral Observer Team, CIVICUS urged observers to consider the
ongoing restrictions on civil society activity in evaluating whether
the Zimbabwean elections could be described as free and fair. SADC's
assessments of Zimbabwe's past three elections have largely
ignored human rights abuses and electoral irregularities. A preliminary
report from SADC indicates this election's assessment may
not defer from its previously uncritical stance.
This week, in
an open letter
to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, CIVICUS also called
for his leadership in ensuring the elections are fully transparent
and representative of the will of the Zimbabwean people.
"As tension builds
and a disaster looms in Zimbabwe, it is now time for Africa, particularly
the leaders of Southern African, to take action to prevent even
further tragedy for the people of Zimbabwe," emphasized Naidoo.
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