Beatings, jailings, intimidation,-the continued harassment of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe must end.
NEW YORK (RUSHPRNEWS) AUGUST 13, 2008–As violence spread throughout Zimbabwe following the initial round of Presidential elections, members of the women’s rights organization, Women of Zimbabwe Arise! (WOZA), appealed to regional authorities to help end the crisis. As WOZA members peacefully marched to the Zambian embassy to ask for assistance, police descended on the crowd arresting fourteen members.
WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magadonga Mahlangu, were among those arrested, and consequently spent more than a month in jail after arbitrarily being denied bail.
The trial date, recently scheduled for August 27th, is an opportunity to set the record straight – the rights of human rights activists must not be denied. All fourteen activists are being charged with “distributing materials likely to cause a breach of the peace.”
These bogus charges are a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression and should be dropped immediately.
Right now, South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki is mediating talks between Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and opposition parties. These mediation talks present a unique opportunity. Your letters directed to President Mbeki can help free the Jenni Magadonga and the other members of WOZA.
Take action now. Tell President Mbeki that all charges against the Women of Zimbabwe Arise must be dropped and that police intimidation and torture must end. What happened to the members of WOZA is just the tip of the iceberg. Human rights defenders in Zimbabwe are repeatedly the victims of harassment and brute force. International law and the Zimbabwe constitution, guarantees peaceful freedom of assembly to all people. The government must no longer be allowed to act with impunity and in violation of these protections.
Please send your letter today, and help WOZA and other human rights activists continue to work without fear of persecution in Zimbabwe.
Amnesty International USA