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mark International Human Rights Day with six street actions
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
December 10, 2005
HUNDREDS of members
of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) took to the streets of Harare and Bulawayo
today in six separate protest marches to commemorate International Human
The women wore t-shirts
calling on Zimbabweans to 'Stop Violence against Women' and also bearing
the international symbol for this campaign - an open hand. Whilst marching,
the women distributed WOZA's newsletter which included an open letter
to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to stop arbitrary arrests of WOZA
By noon five women
from the Harare protest were in custody at Harare Central Police station.
They were assaulted with open palms and baton sticks whilst in detention
by officers, including one called Mhondoro. Due to a combination of this
assault and refusal of access to lawyers, the women decided to negotiate
the payment of ZD $25,000 admission of guilt fines. They were released
on this basis at 16:45 pm. In Bulawayo no arrests were recorded although
five simultaneous protests had been conducted.
women held aloft placards and banners bearing their messages, including
"the strongest man is a woman" and an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, "Women
are like teabags. We don't know how strong we are until we are in hot
In the spirit of "Tough
Love", WOZA's brand of civil disobedience, the 'mothers of the nation'
defied the Public Order Security Act (POSA) and conducted their protests
without giving notification to the police.
In Harare, after a
WOZA delegation participated in a ZimRights-organised march, they went
on to gather on Fourth Street before proceeding along Nelson Mandela Avenue.
The women were intercepted at Second Street by a police vehicle however
and five women were promptly arrested. The five are Loise Grezia, Rosemary
Mironga, Julia Chipehama, Noria Kadhari and Monica Chimbiro. Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights have reacted and are attempting to gain access.
In Bulawayo, five
community-based protests were conducted simultaneously. They were joined
by male defenders and children who found the singing and evident enjoyment
of the protestors irresistible.
Women started their
protest at Mabutweni Shopping Centre and ended at Mabutweni Police Station
where the women dispersed, leaving their placards and the open letter
addressed to the ZRP. In Mpopoma, the protest started at Msitheli High
School and ended at Matshobana Beer Garden, passing Traffic Police on
the way. As the women dispersed, a police vehicle pursued some protestors
but soon gave up chase. In Tshabalala, WOZA women gathered at the shopping
centre and marched towards Sizinda Beer Garden, leaving their messages
with the patrons present. In Magwegwe, Pumula, Emakhandeni and Luveve,
protests also started and ended without incident as did the Nkulumane
contingent. As the marches proceeded, children joined in helping to distribute
the Woza Moya newsletter.
On International Human
Rights Day and the final day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender
Violence, WOZA made the following demands to the ZRP
in their open letter:
- ALL Zimbabweans
respect the rights of women and girls and violence against women is
stopped. NO MORE VIOLENCE!
- The police respect
the rights of women human rights defenders and the women they represent.
We call on the officers from all ranks to refuse to arrest WOZA women
as they go about their peaceful business.
- ALL police officers
read and uphold the 2001 Harare Resolution on the Southern African Regional
Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) Code of Conduct for
Police Officials. The specific points that should be implemented to
restore their dignity as professional police officers are, in particular,
Articles 1- 5.
Article 1 - 'In the
performance of their duties, police officials shall respect and protect
human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.'
the WOZA fact
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