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Zimbabwe: Repression Of A Peaceful Demonstration Organised By Women And Men Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) And Arrest Of Eight Of Its Members

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Zimbabwe. The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the repression of a peaceful demonstration organised by Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a civic movement that defends women's rights and freedoms in Zimbabwe, and the arrest of eight of its members, including Ms. Jennifer Williams, National Coordinator.

According to the information received, in the afternoon of February 7, 2012, eight members of WOZA were arrested by the police while they were participating in a peaceful procession in Bulawayo that converged in front of the Joint Operations, Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC)[1][1] offices in Bulawayo while commemorating the 10th anniversary of WOZA. WOZA had also arranged a meeting with JOMIC in order to request them to act urgently according to their mandate to ensure the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and ensure that abuse of rights by the police stop.

As she was emerging from the meeting, Ms. Williams was arrested by riot police who were assaulting demonstrators as well as members of the public. All of this action took place in front of the members of the JOMIC delegation, who had asked during the meeting to be provided with concrete proof of the activities of the police. Seven other WOZA women[2][2] and five bystanders were also arrested. At the time of publication of this appeal, all are currently detained at Bulawayo Central Police Station. A lawyer representing them has been allowed access and was told by Chief Inspector Mandere that the eight WOZA activists were charged with contravening Section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) for allegedly “knowingly failing to give notice of a gathering”.

The Observatory deplores the increase of acts of repression and criminalisation faced by WOZA leaders and members[3][3] and is concerned that these acts form part of an ongoing trend of harassment by the Zimbabwe Republic Police against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, especially against those wishing to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully.

The Observatory further expresses its deepest concern about the arbitrary arrest of the above-mentioned WOZA members as it believes that their arrest is directly related to their human rights activities, and fears that those currently arrested be subjected to very bad conditions of detention, like in previous arrests.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Jennifer Williams, of the seven other WOZA members currently in detention as well as all WOZA members and all human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Release Ms. Jennifer Williams and the seven other WOZA members currently in detention immediately and unconditionally since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to any kinds of harassment, including at the judicial level, against WOZA members as well as against all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.

Addresses:

President of Zimbabwe, Mr. Robert G. Mugabe, Office of the President, Private Bag 7700, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 708 211 / + 263.4.70.38.58;
Mr. Khembo Mohadi, co-Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 11th Floor Mukwati Building, Private Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 726 716;
Mr. Giles Mutsekwa, co-Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 11th Floor Mukwati Building, Private Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 726 716;
Mr. Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fax: + 263 4 77 29 99 / +263 4 252 155;
Mr. Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner General, Police Headquarters, P.O. Box 8807, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax : +263 4 253 212 / 728 768 / 726 084;
Mr. Justice Johannes Tomana, Attorney-General, Office of the Attorney, PO Box 7714, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, Fax: + 263 4 77 32 47;
Mrs. Chanetsa, Office of the Ombudsman Fax: + 263 4 70 41 19;
H.E. Mr. James Manzou, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin William Barbey 27, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 758 30 44, Email: zimbabwemission@bluewin.ch;
Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels, 11 SQ Josephine Charlotte, 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 96 05 / + 32 2 775 65 10, Email: zimbrussels@skynet.be.

Please also write to the embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country.

***

Paris-Geneva, February 8, 2012

Kindly inform The Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code (ZWE 001 / 0212 / OBS 016) of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Tel add fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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