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WOZA calls for peace in Zimbabwe in Harare on International Day of Peace
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
September 21, 2009

Over 1,000 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) took to the streets of Harare today to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Peace. Riot police responded but no arrests have been reported to date but WOZA leaders are still in the process of confirming the safe return of all activists in their areas.

Six simultaneous protests converged on the offices of the United Nations in Kwame Nkurumah Street from different starting points. The peaceful group of men and women sang as they marched 'Father, send the Holy Spirit to bring peace to Zimbabwe' and 'we are united as WOZA, speaking with one voice that we want peace'. At the UNDP offices, a petition asking the UN to help intervene in Zimbabwe to restore the health and education sectors was handed in to officials in the building. The petition (included below) also called on the UN to pressure the inclusive government to stop the harassment of vendors and ordinary Zimbabweans by police.

Placards carried by the demonstrators included: 'there is no peace in Zimbabwe', 'we want peace' and 'there is no education - is this what the GPA means?' Bystanders called their encouragement to the demonstrators, including a uniformed police officer that urged the group to walk faster so that they could reach their target before the riot police arrived.

The theme of the protest was 'Social Justice will bring Peace of Mind' and its aim was to carry a message to the inclusive government that Zimbabweans still do not have peace of mind a year after the power-sharing deal was signed. Life for ordinary Zimbabweans remains precarious and human rights activists continue to be beaten and harassed for exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest. Since the power-sharing deal was signed in September 2008, 40 WOZA activists have been arrested on seven separate occasions after peaceful protests, WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu spent three weeks in Mlondolozi Prison and hundreds of peaceful Zimbabweans citizens were brutally beaten by police for merely speaking out about the hardships in their lives.

Through today's march, WOZA is calling on the government of Zimbabwe to implement all aspects of the Global Political Agreement to ensure that Zimbabweans can have peace of mind and to guarantee the right of ALL Zimbabweans to live in peace. The scars of violence, recent and decades-old, still affect Zimbabweans whilst the daily struggle for survival continues with no respite. Social justice and a meaningful constitutional process needs to be prioritized by the government instead of political games.

The march also marked the International Day of Peace which is commemorated annually on 21st September and which encourages individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace.

Visit the WOZA fact sheet

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