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  • Women arrested for protesting against rights curbs
    October 05, 2004

    View photographs of their arrest

    About 30 women who were arrested last week for taking part in a protest march in Zimbabwe were detained again on Tuesday when they presented a petition to Parliament opposing a clampdown on human rights groups.

    Police arrested the women outside the parliament building in central Harare after they presented a petition against a proposed law that would ban international human rights groups and cut off foreign funding to local groups that promote democracy.

    The women last week staged a protest march from the second city of Bulawayo to Harare to draw attention to the plight of scores of groups promoting civil society in the southern African country.

    "We have walked 440km to deliver this petition to Parliament and hope and pray that you will hear our cries and not pass this Bill," said the petition from the women, most of whom were members of the Women from Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) group.

    "If the Bill is passed in its current form, it will strike at the very existence of us and our families.

    "We do try to survive independently but without help from NGOs (non-governmental organisations), our families and those of us who are ill shall surely fade away and die," said the petition, which was also backed by Aids support groups.

    In August the government of President Robert Mugabe made the Bill public, but it has yet to be presented to Parliament.

    Rights activists have mobilised to oppose the clampdown, resulting in several arrests over the past weeks for staging illegal protests under provisions of Zimbabwe's tough security laws.

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