Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) Press Statement

Since its formation, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has conducted over 200 demonstrations, peacefully marching on the streets to voice its displeasure with the political, economic, and social state of affairs in Zimbabwe. Most Zimbabweans chose to merely watch these protests from their various conform zones, some praised, many heckled us shouting gender insults.

WOZA_March-Through-Bulawayo_29-09-08However WOZA wish to commend the citizens of Zimbabwe for their unified response towards the call for a stay away and national shutdown. WOZA wish to commend the non-violent nature observed only to have their peaceful action disturbed by police brutality.
WOZA note the normal government propaganda manufacturing violence on the part of citizens whilst turning a blind eye towards state sponsored and promoted violence by police officers. It was apparent from one end of the country to the other end that police officers used brutal force to deny citizens the right to express themselves and speak out about their harsh daily existence and poverty manifesting and the message that enough is enough. Violence as usual was the weapon of choice for the regime foot soldiers wearing police uniform hiding behind their shields. Despite this the citizens of Zimbabwe still delivered their message enough is enough!
The contexts assisting citizens to find their voice and act on were informed by a variety of right violations including the passing of unjust laws such as statutory instrument 64 banning of food imports; shortage of cash necessary to allow purchasing power necessary to balance out the daily survival strategies. The State and President remain dumb on what happened to 15 billion United States dollars from diamond revenue but found resources and machinery to hunt down, beat and arrest children accused of looting biscuits and sugar.
Citizens depraved of the right to peacefully confront the government, demanding the internationally guaranteed rights to expression, assembly, education, health and an adequate standard of living. Zimbabweans have the right to protest clearly stated in the constitution but instead they had to select the option of a stay at home. WOZA therefore call on citizens to continue to use peaceful and dignified ways to send their message and to participate to the fullest of their ability to keep their message un-spoilt by violence. But to build up their courage as they direct presence in peaceful protests will one day soon be necessary.
WOZA reminds the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) that their mandate is to protect citizens from violence and not to practice violence. WOZA remind the police, be they in uniform or wearing plain clothes that they are first and foremost citizens of this nation and as such they owe the people their full loyalty and support.
WOZA call upon citizens to refrain from the following:
1. To refuse to allow police officer to provoke us into violent responses
2. To refuse to allow police officers to indiscriminately arrest citizens – an injury to one is an injury to all citizens.
3. Please try to protect children from violence and do not put them in harm’s way. Do not allow police officers to occupy schools intimidating children’s as is currently the case in Bulawayo schools such as Insukamini Government School and the private high school Sizane.
4. Do not participate in looting of goods and vandalising of property – these are our buildings – our development.
5. Any police officers who conduct door to door harassment and throwing of tear gas in homes must be photographed and reported to Human Rights Commission
6. Please do not forward messages inciting violence as these messages belong to people trying to reduce our voice and lengthen our suffering?
Police officers have announced through their megaphones an unlawful curfew from 6am to 6pm and cancelled weekend school and premier soccer league games in Bulawayo. This is denying citizens their freedom of movement and recreation. WOZA is working with other civic society organisations to challenge this illegally imposed curfew in Bulawayo which is reminiscent of the Gukurahundi era.
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