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Amnesty International appeal for restraint in advance of actions
planned for tomorrow
April 02, 2007
International today issued a pre-emptive action to its membership
worldwide asking them to appeal to the police in Zimbabwe to exercise
restraint and to respect the right to peaceful protest of all Zimbabweans
taking part in a protest planned for 3 and 4 April 2007.
Amnesty International is concerned that activists from the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) who plan to go on a job "stay
away" action on 3 and 4 April 2007 are at risk of being beaten
by police and tortured while in police custody. The job "stay
away" action was organised to protest the government's
failure to address the declining economic situation in Zimbabwe.
It is feared that the police will use excessive force to disperse
demonstrations organised by the ZCTU, as has happened in the past.
On 13 March
2007 two ZCTU officers, Gilbert Marembo (m) and Michael Kandukuti
(m) were assaulted by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police who
had arrived at the ZCTU offices with a search warrant allowing them
to search for and seize all 'subversive material' found
on the premises. The officers were from the Law and Order Section
of the Criminal Investigations department based at Harare Central
police station. The assault was witnessed by lawyers from the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights. Police later seized fliers regarding the
job "stay away".
has documented several cases in the past when activists exercising
their right to peaceful protest have been arrested, detained for
prolonged periods and at times tortured. Police often beat peaceful
protesters with truncheons, batons and metal bars resulting in victims
suffering broken limbs. One of the torture methods often used is
called falanga (beating underneath the feet). This torture method
leaves the victim with walking difficulties for life.
Human rights defenders operate in Zimbabwe under very restrictive
conditions. The government of Zimbabwe restricts operations of civil
society through repressive legislation such as the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) and the Miscellaneous Offences Act (MOA).
Police deny activists permission to freely exercise their right
to peaceful protest.
On 13 September
2006 in Harare, Lovemore Matombo - ZCTU President, Wellington Chibhebhe
- ZCTU Secretary General, and Lucia Matibenga - First Vice-President
of the ZCTU, were arrested while attempting to engage in peaceful
protest about deteriorating social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe.
Other ZCTU members were also arrested and detained in Harare, Beitbridge,
Bulawayo, Mutare and other urban centres. On the eve of the protests,
on 12 September, in an apparent pre-emptive action, police also
arrested a number of ZCTU leaders at their homes and offices in
Rusape, Gweru, Chinhoyi and Kariba. [AI Index: AFR 46/017/2006]
On 11 March
2007 in Harare, 50 activists from the main opposition party the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were arrested in Harare after
attempting to attend a prayer meeting organised by Save Zimbabwe
Campaign, a coalition of churches and civic society organisations.
The activists, including MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku were severely
tortured while in custody. They were repeatedly denied access to
their lawyers as well as medical care. [Press release, AI Index:
Please write appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English
or your own language:
on the police to respect the right to peaceful protest of all
citizens who take heed to the ZCTU call for a job stay away on
3 and 4 April 2007;
- urging the
police to exercise restraint in dealing with the peaceful protesters;
the police that torture is prohibited under Section 15 of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe, the African Charter on Human and Peoples'
Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
to which Zimbabwe is a state party;
on the commissioner of police and the Attorney General to publicly
condemn torture and bring to justice all perpetrators.
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
Zimbabwe Republic Police
PO Box 8807
Fax: +263 4 253 212
Salutation: Dear Commissioner
The Hon. Sobuza
Attorney General of Zimbabwe
Office of the Attorney General
P. Bag 7714
Fax: +263 4 777 049
Salutation: Dear Attorney General
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