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Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign
silence on crisis "loud"
March 13, 2007
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HARARE - Pro-democracy
activists lashed out at the lack of a regional response to the "deteriorating
human rights" situation in Zimbabwe as two activists were shot
and wounded by police in the capital, Harare, on Tuesday, the third
day of police crackdowns.
very least they can issue a condemnation of the brutality and torture,
and urge the Zimbabwe government to take action against the police,"
said Brian Raftopoulos, a Zimbabean academic and curently African
affairs specialist at the South African-based Institute for Justice
from the region and SADC [Southern African Development Community]
on the situation in our country is loud," said a bitter Jacob
Mafume, coordinator of Crisis
in Zimbabwe, a coalition of more than 300 civil society organisations.
silence has attracted growing criticism as rallies were banned in
Harare in February, after running battles between the police and
supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party prior to a meeting to launch the party's presidential campaign
in Highfield, a high-density suburb in the capital.
been mounting in Zimbabwe for the past two months: NGOs, church
groups, labour and students have all staged sporadic demonstrations
around the country as Zimbabweans battled with annual inflation
now running at more than 1,700 percent, compounded by shortages
of foreign currency, food, fuel, electricity and medicines.
on Tuesday by the South African government stopped short of any
criticism of the Zimbabwean government and urged it to ensure that
"the rule of law, including respect for the rights of all Zimbabweans
and leaders of various political parties, is respected."
In the first
detailed statement on the situation, South Africa's Deputy Foreign
Minister, Aziz Pahad, said, "Similarly, we appeal to leaders
of opposition political parties to work towards a climate that is
conducive to finding a lasting solution to the current challenges
faced by the people of Zimbabwe."
Zambia, which will assume chairmanship of SADC in August, and neighbouring
Botswana said they were monitoring the situation.
Affairs Minister Mundia Sikatana last week reportedly urged the
region not to ignore the festering crisis in Zimbabwe, adding that
when Zambia assumed the chairmanship of the SADC he intended to
move the Zimbabwe question up the agenda and engage the European
Union on the matter.
in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, said Sikatana made his statements
to SADC Executive Chairman Thomaz Salomao, who was in Zambia to
prepare for the SADC summit in August 2007. "We should not
pretend that all is well in Zimbabwe," Sikatana said. "There
is a serious problem, and ostracising Zimbabwe will not help solve
the problems there."
Zimbabwean police disrupted the wake of Gift Tandare, Youth Chairperson
of the National Constitutional Assembly, a nongovernmental organisation
advocating constitutional reform in Zimbabwe, who had been shot
dead by the police on Sunday during running battles with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters, ahead of a planned
MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai was among 30 pro-democracy leaders who were beaten and
arrested by the police, also on Sunday, for allegedly inciting violence.
and Naison Mashambanhaka were shot and wounded while attending Tandare's
wake, in Glenview, a Harare suburb. Police also raided the offices
of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in the capital on the pretext
of looking for subversive material.
of brutality at the hands of the police is there to see," Raftopoulos
commented. "We want to see South Africa and SADC encourage
the Zimbabwean government to dialogue with the NGOs and opposition
instead of responding to public meetings with this kind of brutality."
After two days
in custody, Tsvangirai and other arrested leaders, all bearing wounds
and bruises, appeared in court and were taken to hospital for treatment.
unacceptable that, post-independence, meetings are being banned
and we are being subjected to colonial treatment, and then the regional
leaders bury their heads in sand," said Crisis in Zimbabwe's
labour federation, Congress of South African Trade Unions, condemned
its government's "shamefully weak" response "in the
face of such massive attacks on democracy and human rights, especially
coming from those who owed so much to international solidarity when
South Africans were fighting for democracy and human rights against
the apartheid regime".
The United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said, "I
welcome the speed and firmness with which Zimbabwe's courts have
acted in the face of shocking reports of police abuse," and
commended the High Court's order that Tsvangirai be provided with
of repression and intimidation of a peaceful assembly is unacceptable,
and the loss of life makes this even more disturbing," Arbour
added. "I urge the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure an immediate,
impartial and comprehensive investigation into these events; I encourage
the courts to continue to discharge their responsibilities as guardians
of the rights of all Zimbabweans."
Ban Ki-moon joined the chorus of condemnation by western governments
and urged the Zimbabwean government to release all opposition leaders.
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