Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Some local news...

WOZA protesters and babies brutalised on Human Rights Day
By Violet Gonda2
9 November 2006

At least 63 members of the pressure group Women Of Zimbabwe Arise, including six babies, were arrested in Bulawayo on Wednesday. Four members of the group Men of Zimbabwe Arise were also arrested when police allegedly used brutal force to break up a peaceful launch of the activists People’s Charter.
WOZA spokesperson Annie Sibanda said an ambulance had to ferry people to the hospital after they sustained serious wounds from police beatings. Those taken to hospital include a baby with an injured leg and a woman who may have a broken leg. Unprovoked the police officers embarked on a vicious attack on the demonstrators, who had sat down as police arrived.
WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu and a Presbyterian priest are among those arrested. The arrested were taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station while another vehicle is believed to have been diverted elsewhere, as some members who were arrested were not at Central.
It’s reported the level of the brutality was so extreme the police had to take 6 of the victims to Mpilo Hospital themselves. An emailed report from a Bulawayo onlooker says he witnessed police assaulting people before some of them were bundled into police trucks; “I saw devilish beatings inflicted by the riot police on these women at Hyper Supermarket. Kuudzwa kunyimwa mbare dzekumusana (seeing is believing). Satan would have smiled to himself and marvelled what faithful followers he has.”
More than 300 demonstrators had successfully walked several blocks through the streets of Bulawayo to the government offices at Mhlanhlandlela where they began reading out the People’s Charter to the assembled workers at the government complex. Annie Sibanda said, “Approximately 30 riot police arrived and in customary WOZA fashion – the women sat down and prepared to be arrested.”
Despite being International Human Rights Defender’s Day the riot police surrounded the group and in a violent outburst; “began to viciously beat both women and men with baton sticks.”
Sibanda added; “I saw 6 people being offloaded from an ambulance. People cut in their faces from where there were beaten over the face. One woman is bleeding profusely from her leg.”
She said the security forces also chased the crowd down the streets beating the unfortunate ones in the process. “I personally witnessed a person who was sitting in a parked car being pulled out of his car and being bundled into a (police) defender,” Sibanda narrated.
The activists said the brutality today was unspeakable saying “it was obvious that the Zimbabwe Republic Police were there to spill blood because that is certainly what they did.”
A senior police officer at Bulawayo Central told us he was not allowed to comment, referring us to Police Spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena in Harare. It was not possible to get him.
WOZA said Wednesday’s launch of the People’s Charter was a result of a yearlong countrywide consultation. They say it was launched on International Human Rights Defenders Day as a fitting day to launch the Charter and demand social justice for all Zimbabweans. Bulawayo, the WOZA stronghold, was seen as an appropriate start to a series of protests that will roll out around Zimbabwe.Also see WOZA/MOZA demonstrators viciously beaten and arrested on International Human Rights Defenders Day
If you wish to contact the Bulawayo Police force to ask them why they think it is necessary to beat innocent women, you can reach them on +263 09 72515,263 09 61706, 263 09 63061, 263 09 69860 (Central Police Station).


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