Zimbabwe: Civil society under threat
March 10, 2011
On February 19, 46 activists were arrested (45 were charged) in Harare, when police raided an academic meeting at which a video on events in Tunisia and Egypt was shown.
Six people remain in custody facing treason charges. Please respond to the Amnesty International alert below to draw attention to the increasingly repressive situation in Zimbabwe and to ensure they are not subjected to torture, including solitary confinement.
Because Maryknoll has missioners in Zimbabwe, please do not mention Maryknoll in any way in your correspondence.
Of the 45 activists arrested in Harare on February 19, 39 were freed after the treason charges against them were dismissed by a magistrate court. Six activists remain in custody, facing treason charges. Meanwhile, 24 activists arrested in Mutare, including a parliamentarian, had a hearing of the state's appeal on bail postponed.
On March 7, 39 social justice and human rights activists facing treason charges were freed after a magistrate in Harare dismissed the charges against them. They had spent more than two weeks in custody. The activists were part of a group of 45 activists arrested on February 19 after attending a lecture to discuss events in Egypt and Tunisia. However, Munyaradzi Gwisai, Hopewell Gumbo, Antonater Choto, Welcome Zimuto, Eddson Chakuma and Tatenda Mombeyarara were remanded in custody to March 21 because they were either directly linked to International Social Organisation which convened the meeting or were speakers at the meeting.
Lawyers representing the activists told the court that the detained activists were being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. The lawyers also told the court that 11 women activists who had been detained at Chikurubi Women's Prison were forced to work for three hours a day in violation of their rights as pre-trial detainees.
Meanwhile, on March 7 a High Court judge postponed the hearing of an appeal filed by the State in the case of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) parliamentarian Douglas Mwonzora and 23 villagers arrested on allegations of public violence in Nyanga mid February. The case was postponed to March 9 after the judge noted that the record of proceedings was incomplete with some pages missing. The 24 MDC-T members are detained at Mutare Remand Prison.
* Highlight your concern over the detention of the 45 activists in solitary confinement for more than two weeks and urge the authorities to ensure the remaining six activists in custody are not subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, including not being detained in solitary confinement.
* Seek the removal of the treason charges against the six activists arrested solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and call for their immediate and unconditional release.
Please send appeals to:
Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs:
Hon. Patrick Chinamasa
Government of Zimbabwe
New Government Complex
P. Bag 7751, Causeway
Fax: 011 263 4 790 901
Salutation: Dear Minister
The Attorney General:
Government of Zimbabwe
P. Bag 7714, Causeway
Fax: 011 263 4 777 049
Salutation: Dear Attorney General
Please send a copy to:
Ambassador Machivenyika Mapuranga
Embassy of Zimbabwe
1608 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W.
Washington , D.C. 20009