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Jenni Williams: a fearless human rights defender

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition wishes to congratulate human rights activist Jenni Williams, a founder of the social justice movement Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) for receiving the Amnesty International 2012 Ginetta Sagan Award for Women's and Children's Rights. The award honours activists who persevere, often at great personal risk and sacrifice to end human rights abuses against women and children.

WOZA has inspired thousands of women and men to stand up for both their civil and political rights and social, economic and cultural rights including the rights to free speech and assembly, education and food. Over the past decade WOZA, has held hundreds of protests resulting in the incarceration of  more than 3,000 WOZA members during the protests . Williams herself has been arrested several times , most recently in February during a demonstration to mark WOZA's 10th anniversary and Valentine's Day. The firebrand  activist has been beaten, imprisoned without food or medical supplies and threatened with execution for fighting for the rights of every Zimbabwean. Williams' September 2011 arrest resulted in charges of kidnapping and theft against her and WOZA program coordinator Magodonga Mahlangu. They are currently on trial.

Despite the evident risk to her life, Williams continues to champion the rights of Zimbabweans. WOZA, led by Williams, encourages women and men to speak out about issues they may be too fearful to raise alone, including domestic violence and rape. Williams has said the WOZA slogan, "Tough Love, € reflects her conviction that "the power of love can conquer the love of power.

Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International USA executive director, said: "I am so proud to honor this brave woman who fights every day for the dignity and rights of women and children in Zimbabwe. Few of us can imagine the risks she takes every time she leads a protest. Every time Jenni Williams is arrested and jailed Amnesty International activists all over the world stand with her to demand her freedom. As long as she carries on her courageous work, Amnesty International will be by her side. € The Coalition conquers with Nossel's sentiments and applauds Williams' conviction and resilience even in the   face of adversity.

Ginetta Sagan whom the award was named after, was a resistance fighter during World War II who was arrested and tortured because of her contribution to the struggle. She died in 2000 at the age of 75. Like Sagan, Williams has been arrested, beaten, harassed, intimidated, and jailed in filthy and dangerous prisons. Despite safety concerns for herself, her family and for WOZA members she has fought to help change conditions in Zimbabwe through peaceful protest.

To Jenni Williams we say Congratulations, Makorokoto, Amhlope

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