Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fremantle rally for human rights in Zimbabwe

Over forty people attended a Fremantle rally in support of Zimbabwean political activists who have been charged with treason on March 21.

The rally was held in association with international events coinciding with the court hearing in Harare for Munyaradzi Gwisai, Tafadzwa Choto, Hopewell Gumbo, Welcome Zimuto, Tatenda Mombeyara, Edson Chakuma.

“These brave men and women are charged with treason and face the death penalty,” Adele Carles, MLA for Fremantle, told the crowd. “While it is frustrating that we are so far away and it is difficult to influence these events directly, it is important that we speak out and shine the international spotlight on these human rights outrages.”

Carles announced that she had written to the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Australia strongly expressing her disappointment at the abuse of legal process and calling for the release of the prisoners. She called on all those present to sign the on-line Free the Zimbabwe Political Prisoners petition.

Zimbabwe Information Centre WA (ZICWA) coordinator Paul Kaplan called on the Australian government to maintain targeted sanctions against key leaders of the Mugabe regime. He also outlined Zimbabwe’s modern history and the evolution of Mugabe from a respected liberation leader to a corrupt tyrant.

Fremantle city councillor Sam Wainwright told the crowd that Mugabe’s misleadership began when he accepted the austerity dictates of the IMF. He said that one of the demands that people in rich countries like Australia should raise is for Zimbabwe’s national debt to be annulled.

Wainwright also reminded the crowd that Australia had once offered free university education to people from poor Commonwealth countries, but now overseas students are exploited as a cash cow by universities. He called on the Australian government to reverse this policy.

Zimbabwean exile, Toby, of the ZICWA, thanked the crowd for their support and pointed out that most Black Zimbabweans in Perth felt too afraid to attend the rally, fearing repercussions for the relatives at home.

Article by Barry Healy. Photo below from Fremantle Herald.