CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE COALITION (CiZC) SOLIDARITY STATEMENT
FOR WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE ARISE (WOZA)
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) joins hands with other organizations in solidarity with WOZA leadership and members who were indiscriminately beaten and arrested by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Thursday, February 14 in Bulawayo. We reiterate that as civil society, we will not be cowed down by forces which seek to instill fear and distract us from doing the good work for the betterment of ordinary people's lives.
We note with concern that the beatings and arrests took place on Valentine's Day where every citizen including the police must show love and compassion. It is also regrettable that the reaction by the police was done out of malice and overzealousness since it has now become a tradition that WOZA members protest peacefully on Valentine's day every year.
We note with disappointment and disapproval the police assault and arrest of the 180 Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members (and 6 bystanders) for peacefully staging their traditional Valentine's Day protest in Bulawayo, on 14 February 2013.We also condemn strongly the arrest and assault of 8 members of WOZA, and an indiscriminate crackdown by police on many others, resulting in 25 victims seeking medical attention, when over 1000 members of the organisation staged a peaceful protest at Parliament on 13 February 2013 in Harare. We also note with disapproval that at the protest in Harare tear gas canisters were fired affecting children and many others in the streets.
The State-led violence on WOZA is an instance of unceasing gross brutality against women in Zimbabwe, and an aberration from the letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). The action by the police during WOZA protests is a complete detour from their duty to protect innocent citizens and a pointer to a consolidation of a police state in Zimbabwe.
It is unacceptable and no coincidence that such a massive scale assault on peaceful women comes barely three days after three Civil Society Organisations, NANGO and COTRAD's shared offices in Masvingo and Zimbabwe Peace Project's Hillside offices in Harare were raided in a space of one day on February 11, 2013.
We are also disappointed that the harassment of WOZA members, confirms the unpalatable fact that the blitzkrieg on Non-Governmental Organisations and human rights activists in Zimbabwe is unabating, despite unequivocal calls that it should cease by reputable International bodies such as the United Nations (UN) and pro-democracy forces in Zimbabwe.
This is more disturbing considering that Zimbabwe is expected to host the UNWTO summit, a constitutional referendum and harmonized elections in a few months to come
We, as a matter of urgency, repeat the following demands to the Inclusive Government (IG):
1. That the political leaders in the Inclusive Government act immediately to cease the undue harassment of CSO's throughout the country.
2. That the Government of Zimbabwe must urgently take measures to ensure the protection of CSO's and HRDs and not impede their legitimate activities which promote and advance implementation and fulfillment of human rights obligations by the State and non-State actors.
3. That the police and prosecuting authorities should exercise professionalism and carry out their duties in a non-partisan manner and desist from the intimidation of NGO workers through unnecessary and unwarranted brutality and searches.
4. That JOMIC be given the mandate to urgently investigate the recent actions by the police and other security sector personnel or proxies against CSOs and their work.