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the victimization of human rights activists
in Zimbabwe Coalition
October 17, 2007
This week has
been marked by events which once again indicate that the Zimbabwean
government is still far away from embracing the spirit of dialogue.
Yesterday, more than 150 National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) activists marched along Sam Nujoma
Avenue with the intention of sending a strong message to the house
of parliament about the need for a new constitutional dispensation.
The police heavily descended on the activists, resulting in 25 NCA
members with serious injuries.
A day before the NCA
march, students in Masvingo on a Free Edison Hlatshwayo Campaign
organized demonstrations urging the state to set free Hlatshwayo
who has been incarcerated for the past 21 days. 11 students were
arrested; two were tortured and sustained deep injuries on the head.
The same day,
more around 200 WOZA
and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) took to the streets, launching
Report on Political Violence against Members of Women of Zimbabwe
Arise. They were arrested and later released without any charges
after spending more than 10 hours in Harare Central police station
The Coalition notes with
grave concern how the police continue to selectively apply the law
on narrow political lines. The war veterans, youth militia and any
one serving the interests of the establishment are allowed to march
under police escort.
On 31 August 2007, veterans
under the leadership of Jabulani Sibanda marched in Harare in solidarity
with the candidacy of President Robert Mugabe, aimed at silencing
his dissenting lieutenants from within his ruling ZANU PF party.
This triggered a domino effect of solidarity marches in Bulawayo,
Gwanda and Gweru on the 12, 13 and 14th of October 2007 respectively.
The police did not arrest anyone.
In all these marches,
the police could only be differentiated from the war veterans through
uniforms. They were in absolute cooperation with the militant arm
of the ruling party. It is rather disturbing that when the police
are dealing with the war veterans, with a proven record of violence
and murder of opposition supporters there is cooperation. If the
students engage the government on the ailing education sector the
police engage the innocent students through combative and ruthless
The police have reneged
from its core mandate of enforcing the law impartially and objectively.
It has become a narrow enterprise at the mercy of the ruling party
to canvass political profits for the few individuals at the expense
of people's basic human rights.
On Tuesday, the Crisis
Coalition team which was in Mashonaland East province on a Rural
Outreach Program spotted more than 60 Border Gezi indoctrinated
youths being trained para-military activities at Sadza Police Station
by Uniformed army officers.
Once again, the government
is lubricating its wheels and arsenal of violence on any dissenting
voices. The notorious youth militia will traumatise the citizenry
in the 2008 elections in line with their terms of reference authored
and endorsed by the ruling party.
In the past, the youth
militia, under the guise of 'national youth service'
terrorized innocent Zimbabweans, brutalized opposition supporters,
forced people to buy ZANU PF party membership cards and have been
implicated in politically motivated murders. During the drought
and food shortages of 2002 and 2003, they enforced the government
policy - attacking retailers, arresting people in possession
of scarce commodities, confiscating goods and stopping opposition
supporters from getting food aid. In return for their services,
they were rewarded with immunity from prosecution and with jobs
in the military and police forces.
It is therefore the Coalition's
humble submissions that the dialogue process currently taking place
should deal with the issues of addressing state sponsored violence
as one of the core demands before engaging in elections. Failure
to address this cancerous vice in the political environment will
yield nothing short of a disputed outcome.
Police are detaining
three Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members at MacAdams Food outlet
on allegations that they are planning to embark on more protests.
The three are Clara Manjengwa, Lilian Nketula and Kesina Munda.
The police want Jenni Williams, WOZA coordinator to surrender herself
to Harare Central Police station
The Catalyst team visited
the place and spotted three police officers and the detainees. They
were being instructed to call Jenni Williams, whose phone they could
not get through to.
Visit the Crisis
in Zimbabwe fact
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