More students arrested in Bindura

bindura_universityFour more students were arrested on Monday at the Bindura University, in what appears to be an intensifying clampdown on student activists in the country.

The four student leaders were arrested during a campaign meeting at the Bindura University of Science Education, where SRC elections have been underway. The group, including outgoing SRC President Respect Ndanga, had just finished addressing students at a campaign rally for one of the new presidential candidates, Paul Dakarai. The students were arrested on as yet unclear grounds, and were being detained at Mashonaland Central police station. At the same time, President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) Clever Bere, who was also in Bindura for the SRC polls, had to flee the area because of a police-led hunt to have him detained. According to a ZINASU statement, police and state intelligence details were frantically searching for Bere, even going as far as to set up road blocks out of the area to try and find him.

The arrests meanwhile come mere days after nine other students were taken into custody last Friday, reportedly by five members of Robert Mugabes presidential guard. The nine, who had been holding a discussion outside the Bindura Universitys premises, were detained on allegations that they wanted to disrupt a graduation ceremony being held that day. Eight of the students were eventually released, although one of them, who had been actively campaigning for Dakarai, has reportedly been handed over to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

ZINASU spokesperson Blessing Vava explained that all the arrests are linked to preventing Dakarai from winning the influential position as SRC president at the University. He explained that the regime is concerned that their preferred candidate for SRC president is facing defeat, and they are arresting all those that are a threat. Vava said there are grave concerns about the continued persecution of student activists by the government, calling the arrests a sheer act of despotism and desperation. He continued by saying that since the beginning of the year there has been an escalation of abuses against student activists across the country.

2009 has been a year that has surpassed other years in terms of abuses, because this year we have seen more suspensions, expulsions and arrests of students than ever before, Vava said.

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