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WOZA members arrested in Harare whilst calling for an end to violence
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
November 06, 2007
98 members of Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) were arrested
at noon today whilst protesting the continued harassment of and
violence against human rights activists at the hands of the Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP).
The activists were arrested
Parliament and were made to sit in Africa Unity Square for several
hours before being moved to Harare Central Police Station. Human
rights lawyers are in attendance. It is still unclear what charges
are being brought against the group.
More than 250 activists
took part in the protest march through central Harare. This action
follows peaceful street demonstrations in Bulawayo, Harare and Mutare
last month on the same theme.
7 November 1pm
members were arrested during a protest at Parliament in Harare,
they were held for 7 hours before being released without charge.
At noon on 6
November 2007, a deputation drawn from the membership began a protest
to press for an end to violence and for a response from the Zimbabwe
Republic Police. Members also wanted to express their commitment
to a repealing of Public
Order Security Act (POSA) and the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
As the procession was
to arrive at Parliament, the Riot Squad based at Africa Unity Square
intercepted and began to beat the peaceful activists. They did not
directly order the activists to disperse but beat anyone trying
to sit down. The procession then turned around the way they had
come and as determined activists began to chant the slogan - you
strike a woman - you strike a rock. The singing then continued -
the words are - The road is full of thorns and the time has come
to pray. It seems this was too much for the police officers who
had kept up their insults and beating with baton sticks (although
they used minimum force). When the procession crossed Sam Nujoma
Street, the order to sit down was issued by police and WOZA members
While the group sat down,
members who had not been arrested handed themselves in. A member
of MOZA did this in style. With his placard saying 'VOTE no to POSA'
held high and singing away, he did a solo march across the street
into the arrested group.
After 30 minutes, a vehicle
came and 17 members were taken to Harare central police station.
An hour and a half passed with no progress before the Riot Squad
guarding the arrested ordered 3 lines and walked the 81 members
to central creating quite a spectacle and much amusement. It seems
there was no fuel for the vehicles.
After uniformed polices
officers and law and order officers took down everyone's details,
it became apparent no department wanted responsibility for processing
WOZA. Eventually Law and Order officers with the Chief Superintendent
Madzingo, the overall boss of Law and Order in attendance asked
for all the issues WOZA are unhappy and after a 30 minute spelling
out issues from police harassment, to skyrocketing school fees,
to electricity blackouts and complaints about POSA, the Chief Superintendent
said he was tired and asked WOZA lawyer Muchadehama to assist WOZA
to notify for future protests. All 98 members were released at 7:30
pm having been arrested just after noon. This is the third protest
in a row that WOZA have been arrested but released without being
detained. On 15 October, Chief Inspector Tenderere, officer commanding
Harare central lectured the activists and released them after 9
hours in custody. These protests have seen WOZA directly confront
Police about their brutality.
Meanwhile, A WOZA member
Maria Moyo, arrested approximately 8 times and abducted on 24th
August with 6 other members has died. Known Law and order officers
based in Bulawayo took her from her sick bed at 4:30 am and threatened
to tie her up with ropes and throw her into Khami Dam if she did
not divulge the whereabouts of WOZA leaders. She was badly shaken
by this experience and took a turn for the worse, despite medical
treatment she never recovered. Doctors tried to treat a bad cough
and advised that she is too stressed. WOZA released a report on
political violence suffered by members including mental and physical
torture. WOZA leaders pass on their condolences to the family of
Maria and to all her comrades. We ask for intensification in amplifying
the voice of ordinary Zimbabweans demanding social justice so that
Maria's life is not sacrificed in vain.
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