Posts Tagged ‘WOZA’

This is how Zimbabwe celebrated Women Human Rights Defenders Day:

November 30, 2013

Scores of peaceful marchers from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were beaten and some arrested by police in anti-riot gear on Friday. The women were on their way to the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex, where they submitted a petition outlining the needs and expectations of Zimbabwean women in the context of the on-going campaign against gender-based violence. WOZA leader Jenni Williams said baton-wielding officers, who were accompanied by dogs, pounced on the group of women, chasing and beating them up.

She added: “We have long argued that police in Bulawayo have seemingly a tribal and regional agenda. Why is it that when we demonstrate in Bulawayo our demos are either stopped before they even start or our members are beaten up? Yet I can go to parliament (in Harare) and nobody will arrest me?”Some women were arrested and then released without charge three hours later, at the intervention of the officer in charge at Drill Hall in Bulawayo, who simply said the women were free to go, without offering any explanation why the women had been violently and brutally arrested in the first place. Williams explained: “He just came in and said we could go, there was no problem. We said to him ‘Just like that? When people have been beaten up and dogs almost set on them and you say there is no problem?’.” The WOZA leader, who has been arrested more than 50 times, expressed concern at the heavy-handedness of Bulawayo police.

WOZA activists brutalised on Women Human Rights Defenders Day | SW Radio Africa.

And the Women in Zimbabwe need all the support they can get…..

September 18, 2012

The Press statement below was issued by the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and shows the need for the continued attention and support from the UN as well as NGOs:

AT noon on 12th September 300 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA) were prevented from conducting a peaceful protest to The
Chronicle in Bulawayo. Three small groups that managed to arrive at
the Chronicle but were quickly dispersed by Riot Police with raised
baton sticks. In 5 parts of the Central business district Riot Police
were standing in groups of 4 carrying baton sticks and obviously ready
to stop the protests as they began.

A block away, WOZA national coordinator, Jenni Williams was standing
alone when 4 police officers surrounded her. One of these police
officers had arrested Williams on 21 September 2011 while shopping in
an Electrical shop. On that day, 30 minutes previously he had also
arrested Magodonga Mahlangu. Both activists were then charged with
Kidnap and Theft, charges that are still being prosecuted in 2012.

On the 12 September, he once again refused to give his name but asked,
“Jennifer what are you planning here?”  To which Williams replied,
“What are you doing here beating people?” The other police officers
then started to lecture Williams on the need for WOZA to notify police
before any protest. A legal argument ensured. One the officers then
announced that the Officer Commanding of Bulawayo, Central Assistant
chief Inspector Rangwani wanted to see Williams. The police officers
then escort her to the station on foot.

As they began to walk, Magodonga Mahlangu arrived and asked Williams
what was happening. It was at this point that a further legal argument
ensued. Williams advised Mahlangu that it seemed she was under arrest.
The officers said she was not but then refused to allow her to go and
reschedule the meeting with the chief Inspector.

As the two arrived at the police station, eight members entered the
station in solidarity bringing the number ‘arrested’ to 10. They were
taken to the chief inspector Rangwani’s office and they were told he
would be arriving shortly. Lawyers were deployed to represent the
activists but were denied access. A two and a half hour circus then
ensued with the activists being told they were being charged but some
officers refusing to charge them, mentioning the letter of complaint
filed the week before. The arresting officers then stage-managed the
separation of Williams and Mahlangu from the other 8. The 8 and other
activists outside were rounded up by a Riot squad and force marched to
the bus terminus.

The WOZA leaders who were now back in the OC Rangwani office were
still unable to access their lawyers. Finally two senior officers
seated themselves in the OC chair and surprisingly asked the two if
they had wanted a meeting with the OC. Williams then asked the
whereabouts of OC Rangwani, the officers admitted he was on leave. The
WOZA leaders then stood up and said, ‘as we are told we are not
formally under arrest we are now leaving and will be submitting a
further letter of complaint.” Williams then left her phone number for
a meeting to be scheduled and the two activists walked out of the
police station.

WOZA wish to draw attention to the disparate police response between
the police at Parliament in Harare and the Bulawayo police. On 12
September it was obvious that the WOZA leaders were arrested to
prevent their exercising their right to protest. This right is
provided by constitutional law buttressed by Supreme Court ruling of
2010 after legal action taken by Williams and Mahlangu. ‘Once again
police in Bulawayo have acted overzealously and acted to discriminate
against WOZA members from Bulawayo which is regional and tribal
discrimination.

See the complaint against the police at
http://wozazimbabwe.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/WOZA-complain-of-police-harrasment-ZRP-Jomic.pdf

Zimbabwe: the High Commissioner has left; arbitrary arrests continue

July 2, 2012

The UN High commissioner of Human Rights has hardly left the country and the regime shows its true nature by arresting a groups of  peaceful demonstrators.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has been informed by reliable sources about the repression of a peaceful demonstration organised by Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a civic movement that defends women’s rights and freedoms in Zimbabwe.

According to the information received, on June 27, 2012 in the morning, 101 members of WOZA were arrested in the centre of Bulawayo, where protests were due to start at 11.00 a.m in ten different locations. All were taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station, many of whom handcuffed. Their lawyers were denied access to their clients on three occasions. The 101 were released without charges between 4.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. on the same day, in batches of 5 people so as to prevent any mass protests. 

Previously, on June 26, 2012, eight members of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) were also arrested in Bulawayo as they were on their way back from a workshop to commemorate the 2012 United Nations International Day in Respect of Victims of Torture. They were also detained at Bulawayo Central Police Station for an hour, before being released without charges.

On the same day in Karoi, four other members of ZimRights were briefly detained before being released without charges.

The Observatory, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), expresses its deepest concern about the increasing obstacles to freedom of assemblyrefers these cases to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs and requests urgent intervention by all. For action modalities go to:

Zimbabwe: Arbitrary arrests of WOZA peaceful demonstrators / June 29, 2012 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.