Target: Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s (ZANU-PF) police force
Goal: End the police harassment, brutality, and unlawful detainment of activists and others who voice opposition against government leaders
As the Zimbabwe government prepares for national elections, police crackdowns on civil society groups have intensified and grown more frequent. The upcoming elections, which will be held later in the year following a recent referendum made to the Constitution, calls for the establishment of a coalition government between the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In recent months, however, ZANU-PF’s police force has carried out a politically motivated campaign that has resulted in the harassment and detainment of activists and those associated with international organizations.
According to Human Rights Watch, since December 2012, the ZANU-PF controlled police have carried out a string of abuses against activists and civil society groups. ZANU-PF police have arrested the prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, for instance, on charges of “obstructing the courts of justice.” Her arrest occurred after she attempted to give legal advice to four employees worked in the prime minister’s office. The workers were detained by police prior to Mtetwa’s arrest. Furthermore, in Harare and Bulawayo, police disrupted the annual Valentine’s Day “love” protest. Organized by members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOWZA), officers were seen arresting, detaining, and sometimes beating protesters—including WOWZA’s president, Jenni Williams.
International human rights organizations whose offices are in Zimbabwe have also been subject to police harassment. Police have raided the offices of the National Association of NGOs, the Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD), and the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP).
Leaders of the ZANU-PF police have approved such instances of harassment and mistreatment, arguing that they inhibit the “negative influence and subversive activities” of nongovernmental groups.
Petition the member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to urge the Zimbabwe government to allow civic organizations and international groups to operate freely, without the fear of being harassed or mistreated by police. Freedom of speech and expression are absolutely necessary if Zimbabwe wishes to have transparent elections.
Dear Chairperson Hifikepunye Pohamba,
Zimbabwe’s African National Union-Patriotic Front’s (ZANU-PF) police force has violated the fundamental civil rights of numerous individuals associated with activist organizations both domestic and international. Officers have broken into the offices of various organizations, harassing and detaining individuals deemed “subversive.”
It is our hope that the Southern African Development Community can pressure ZANU-PF leaders into halting the harassment and mistreatment of otherwise law-abiding activists. ZANU-PF officers have been seen arresting, detaining, and sometimes beating protesters or activists, as seen in the Valentine’s Day “love” protest organized by members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOWZA).
Urge members of SADC to pressure Zimbabwes’ leaders into ending their police force’s outrageous misconduct. It is restricting the level of free speech and free expression that is essential to having transparent, democratic elections.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons