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Human rights defenders arrested in Zimbabwe
Front Line, The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
June 06, 2007

Seven women human rights defenders including Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Angeline Kururu and Rosemary Sizada of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were arrested on 6 June 2007 and are been detained in Bulawayo Central Police Station.

On 6 June, about 80-100 members of two organisations, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA), gathered in Bulawayo to conduct a peaceful, silent march to announce the launch of their new campaign 'Ten Steps to a New Zimbabwe'. Two groups began to march from different locations in the city toward the offices of The Chronicle, a government-owned newspaper.

From the reports received, one of the groups was intercepted by riot police after marching only a short distance. They were beaten and forced to disperse. A short while later the second group was intercepted and those demonstrating were beaten by the riot police. A number of women were arrested and brought to Bulawayo Central Police Station. A group of demonstrators were beaten outside the police station by members of the riot police a short time later.

Front Line is extremely concerned in relation to the safety of those human rights defenders that have been arrested. Members of WOZA have been increasingly been subject to ill-treatment while in police custody. Since 2003, there have been over ten separate cases where WOZA members have been severely beaten while in police custody after exercising their right to peaceful protest. They have been repeatedly denied access to food, lawyers and medical care. Often mothers are detained with babies for prolonged periods.

Front Line urges the authorities in Zimbabwe to unconditionally release all members of WOZA and MOZA and guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders while in detention.

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