WOZA Arrests

> – The frightened Mugabe regime responded with brute force this week as courageous members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) took part in peaceful Valentine’s demonstrations demanding an end to hunger and hatred.

Undeterred by this violent response, the brave women of WOZA took to the streets of Harare on Tuesday to spread their message of love. An estimated 300 women and some 14 infants were arrested by anti-riot police while they were demonstrating outside parliament at lunchtime.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has noted the arrests with grave concern and said the women had been charged with violating section 24 of the notorious Public Order and Security Act for participating in an unsanctioned procession. The women have denied the charges.

“We are outraged that those arrested were exposed to heavy rains and the harsh elements as they were detained in the open police courtyard at Bulawayo Central police station for several hours before being moved to cells at around 22:30hrs. Such treatment is inhuman and degrading and flies in the face of basic fundamental rights that are due to all human beings, including the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners (1990) which provide that all detainees shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings and shall not be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment,” said the lawyers in a statement.

The imprisonment of the babies is a direct violation of accused persons’ rights, which state that “no female detainee who is breastfeeding a baby shall be detained without the authority of the Officer Commanding the Province, who must examine each case and decide on the necessity of detention”. ZLHR said there was no indication that such an investigation had been carried out and strongly condemned the police for endangering the health of the babies and their mothers through mass detentions.

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