Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Free the political prisoners in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean human rights activists were arrested on February 19 for showing a video about the democracy struggle in Egypt.

They have been charged with treason, which is a capital offense in Zimbabwe.

International rallies calling for their freedom are being held to coincide with their court hearing.

Fremantle Speak Out for Freedom
Kings Square (next to Fremantle Town Hall)

Monday March 21, 5:00 pm

Adele Carles (member for Fremantle),
Sam Wainwright (Fremantle councillor),
Paul Kaplan (Zimbabwe Information Centre)

Organised by: Zimbabwe Information Centre (WA branch), Fremantle/Walyalup branch Socialist Alliance

The Prisoners of Conscience

Tafadzwa Choto, a veteran of the struggle for equality and justice in Zimbabwe. She has been a key player in crucial democratic and social justice processes including constitutional reform, workers rights, women's rights and the right to health campaign.

Munyaradzi Gwisai is general coordinator of ISO(Z), a former Movement for Democratic Change MP and is a Law Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. Gwisai has been a leading voice for workers rights and social justice in Zimbabwe since the late eighties when he led student protests against corruption and injustice. He is a dedicated defender of workers and the oppressed poor.

Hopewell Gumbo is a former President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Msavaya as he is affectionately known by many in the struggle for social justice and democracy in Zimbabwe, is a consistent fighter and great inspiration to generations of activists.

Welcome Zimuto is a key organiser and campaigner for the right to education and an advocate for democracy and human rights in the country. He is with the Zimbabwe National Students Union.

Tatenda Mombeyara is an organizer with the Zimbabwe Labor Center

Edson Chakuma. No personal information available

Sign the on-line petition here.

** Media release ** Media release ** Media release ** Media release **
Australian relative of imprisoned Zimbabwean calls for his release

March 11, 2011
An international campaign has won a partial victory for 45 social movement activists arrested on February 19 in Harare, Zimbabwe, for watching a video about the recent uprisings in Egypt.

Thirty-nine have had their charges dropped by the Harare Magistrates Court for lack of evidence and because the detentions resulted from what the court called “dragnet” arrests.

However, six activists remain in jail in appalling conditions, denied access to medical and legal help, and suffering torture to extract bogus confessions of plotting to overthrow the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. The activists have been charged with treason and if found guilty, risk a sentence of death or life imprisonment.

Human rights supporters are pressuring the Zimbabwe government to release the activists and drop all the charges. They include retired Australian magistrate Anthony Bloemen , who is the father-in-law of one of the detainees, Munyaradzi Gwisai.

Gwisai is the director of the University of Zimbabwe’s Labor Law Centre and a former member of Zimbabwe’s parliament representing the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Bloemen says that Gwisai, together with other imprisoned activists, have been subjected to torture by the Zimbabwean authorities. The torture, he said, involved beatings all over the detainees’ bodies with broomsticks, metal rods and pieces of timber, aimed at securing confessions that would implicate them in the commission of treason. Gwisai said the pain was “indescribable, sadistic and a tragedy for Zimbabwe”.

The arrests, charges and torture have been condemned by, amongst others, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC - Zimbabwe), Amnesty International, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the Centre for Civil Society (South Africa).

The international campaign is calling for the immediate release of the activists, the dropping of all charges against them, and for the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression that are contained in Articles XII and XIX of the Global Political Agreement, signed by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in September 2008, be upheld.

For further comment, contact Anthony Bloemen on (08) 9192 5657.