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WOZA members beaten after Harare demo, one badly injured
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
December 14, 2007

Whilst the three people arrested after the WOZA demonstration in Harare on Tuesday were released after paying a fine and without being harmed, it has emerged that riot police beat at least 10 WOZA members as they were dispersing near Angwa Street. One woman's elbow was badly dislocated after being beaten with a baton stick across her arm. She is in severe pain and will be in plaster for at least a month.

It has also emerged that four members of MOZA were also arrested after the demonstration. They were driven around the streets of Harare for some time and asked to point out WOZA leaders. When no leaders were identified, the four men were asked if WOZA had plans to disrupt the Zanu PF congress, which was due to be held in Harare the following day. Upon hearing that the demonstration was to mark Human Rights Day and the end of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, the four men were released unharmed and without charge.

These injuries perpetrated against members directly contradicted what WOZA leaders were told by riot police when stopped near Parliament. When asking the group to disperse, members of the riot squad assured WOZA's National Co-ordinator, Jenni Williams, that they would not beat the demonstrators but they could not allow them to progress to Parliament. It is obvious however that violence has become so 'normal' for the Zimbabwe Republic Police that it is the only response that they know when faced with citizens that peacefully exercise their freedoms of assembly and speech.

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