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'Stop attacking the messenger and start attending to the message' - CSOs urge the state
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
April 06, 2011

Zimbabwe civil society organizations today on the 6th of April 2011 chastised the increase in harassment and persecution of human rights defenders and their organizations. The statement was catalyzed by the harassment of Abel Chikomo, the Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum by state agents. Addressing a media conference the civil leaders called for the police and all other state agents to stop attacking human rights defenders and lamented the state's unjustified concentration on deterring CSOs working hiding behind claims of illegality and illegitimacy and called for the government to instead maximize its efforts on strengthening relations with CSOs to improve the polarized situation for the betterment of the nation.

The panel which consisted of the NGO Forum Chairperson Primrose Matambanadzo, Dr. Lovemore Madhuku of the NCA, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director McDonald Lewanika, Women's Coalition Chairperson Emilia Muchawa, Tsungirayi Kokera of ZESN, NANGO Director Cephas Zimumwe noted that an attack on one individual and or one organization was an attack on all civil society organizations in Zimbabwe. Questioned on the CSO's action plan on the increasing victimization of human rights defenders, panelists highlighted that there is need for programs of action that mitigate persecution and increase room for advocacy. In addition CSOs, declared that, despite all these unwarranted and frivolous attacks, pro-democracy actors and civic activists would consistently fight for the respect for human rights.

The Panel declared that the struggle for democracy and good governance will continue and CSOs will work as a united force until the battle is won. In a symbolic show of support and unity the Press Conference was well attended by over 30 CSO leaders, while the statement was signed on top by 8 of some of the country's biggest leading coalitions, networks and mass based groups.

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