Zim activists, lawyers & journalists arrested at SADC Summit

sadc_reA group of civil society activists, including top lawyers and a journalist, were on Friday arrested and violently ejected from the Summit of Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders underway in Namibia.

Among those picked up by police in Namibia were Irene Petras from Zimbabwe Layers for Human Rights, Joy Mabenge of the Institute for Democratic Alternatives for Zimbabwe (IDAZIM), and freelance journalist Jealousy Mawarire. The three were being detained and questioned on Friday evening, while another nine civil society leaders were being held under heavy police guard. Zimbabwean CIO agents were leading the interrogations of the activists, along with Namibian police.

The civil society groups, including representatives from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, traveled to Namibia to keep the pressure on SADC to lay out a clear plan for democratic change in Zimbabwe.

On Friday afternoon, the groups were set to deliver a position paper to SADC leaders, calling on them to urgently lay out in clear terms, firm pre-conditions to ensure democratic elections in Zimbabwe that are without violence and intimidation and that fully comply with SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

But according to the Crisis Coalitions Dewa Mavhinga, who contacted SW Radio Africa by SMS on Friday, about 20 civil society leaders were violently ejected from the Summit by Namibian police. Mavhinga said that the groups vehicle was also impounded, explaining how Namibian police, together with Zimbabwean security agents, were harassing the group. He said equipment like cameras was also confiscated.

Crisis Coalition activists Mavhinga, Philip Pasirayi, Pedzisai Ruhanya and Dadirai Chikwengo, along with five other activists, were being guarded by armed police on Friday evening. Petras, Mabenge and the journalist were still being questioned.

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