The petition reads: â€˜Exiled Zimbabweans and supporters appeal to the UK government to allow Zimbabwean civil rights campaigners to take up invitations to visit the UK so that they can tell the world about the worsening situation in Zimbabwe. A number of prominent activists have been denied entry although members of the Mugabe regime have been given visas despite having a history of human rights abuses.â€™
At the same time, the Vigil is calling on supporters in the UK to write to their Member of Parliament to complain at the refusal of visas to the activists. Zimbabweans resident in the UK are allowed to vote in parliamentary elections as Commonwealth citizens, even though Zimbabwe walked out of the organization more than ten years ago. (The British government has not yet updated the relevant law to exclude Zimbabweans.)
Here is a template for a letter to MPs:
â€˜Zimbabweans in the UK are puzzled and distressed that leaders of non-party Zimbabwean protest groups are being refused visas to visit the UK to speak about the struggle against Mugabeâ€™s repressive Zanu PF regime.Â
Among them is Pastor Evan Mawarire, leader of the #ThisFlag protest, now exiled in the United States, who was invited to address the All Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe as well as to speak at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Pastor Mawarire drew international attention when he wrapped himself in the Zimbabwe flag and protested against Mugabe.Â
Other campaigners denied visas include Patson Dzamara, who was also due to speak to the parliamentary group. Patson is the brother of Itai Dzamara who was abducted twenty months ago by intelligence agents for his protest in Harareâ€™s Africa Unity Square. He has not been heard of since.
We know of others excluded including Gift Konjana, who has been detained more than thirty times and his home petrol-bombed for helping destitute farm workers. He had been invited to address a meeting at the Royal GeographicalSociety by the Mike Campbell Foundation which had already bought his air ticket.
We do not accept the stated reason that these people did not have the resources to maintain themselves in the UK when they have been invited here to speak and provided with return tickets. We note that Mugabe representatives seem to be allowed free access, including people who have been involved in killings.
The Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Kate Hoey says the UKâ€™s Ambassador to Harare, Catriona Laing, is also puzzled by the refusal of visas.Â Ms Laing is drawing a lot of adverse criticism in Zimbabwe because of the move.
We would be grateful if you would ask the government to clarify its policy on this matter.â€™
The new petition augments the petition we are already running, addressed to the UN Secretary General: â€˜With mounting unrest in Zimbabwe, we urge you to appoint a Special Representative to prepare the ground for a UN Transitional Authority to take over from the failed Mugabe regime. We look to the Special Representative to initiate comprehensive negotiations so that the UN Transitional Authority can assume control of Zimbabweâ€™s administrative structures â€“ foreign affairs, defence, security, finance and communications â€“ to ensure a level playing field conducive for credible national elections.â€™
- Today the Vigil held another monthly demonstration to mark twenty months since the abduction of Itai Dzamara.
- A reminder of the Vigil and ROHR protest on Friday 18th November from 12 noon â€“ 2 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. This protest is supporting a bond note demonstration in Zimbabwe.
- The MDC-T UK and Ireland Youth Assembly will be joining us at our prayer Vigil on Saturday 26th November. They would like to have a candlelit vigil from 5 â€“ 6 pm in remembrance of fallen comrades, those who have suffered and continue to be persecuted under Mugabe’s Zanu PF regime and the many who perished during Gukurahundi. Please bring spare glass jars for the candles.
- Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Elizabeth Chakachaka, Josephine Jombe, Jonathan Kariwo, Fungayi Mabhunu, Beverley Mutandiro, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Maxmus Savanhu, Clerence Simelane and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Beverley, Josephine and Elizabeth for looking after the front table, to Chipo Parirenyatwa and Prosper Karuru for selling â€˜Mugabe must go / has goneâ€™ wristbands and to Fungayi, Ephraim, Phillip Mahlahla, Jonathan, Alfredy Mukuvare, Maxmus, Prosper, Alphios Chirwa and Angela Tapera for putting up the banners and tarpaulin.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
FOR THE RECORD: 62 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
- Bond note protest. Friday 18th November from 12 noon â€“ 2 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. This protest is supporting a bond note demonstration in Zimbabwe.
- ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 19th November from 11 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Phone Ephraim Tapa (07940793090) for the exact location.
- ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 26th November from 11.30 am â€“ 1.45 pm. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
- ROHR Birmingham branch meeting. Saturday 26th November 2016 from 10.30 am â€“ 1 pm. Venue: Strathallan Hotel, 225 Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 9RJ. Contact: Chair: Gladys Muduve 07956430115, Info & Publicity: Tecla Bandawe 074 50507650.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigilâ€™s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigilâ€™s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
- Monthly Prayer Vigil. Saturday 26th November from 2 â€“ 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. Contact Beverley Mutandiro (07412053415) with names of Zimbabwean pastors and prayer groups who might want to participate. The MDC-T UK and Ireland Youth Assembly will be joining us for the last hour for a candlelit vigil in remembrance of fallen comrades, those who have suffered and continue to be persecuted under Mugabe’s Zanu PF regime and the many who perished during Gukurahundi. Please bring spare glass jars for the candles. MDC-T organisers: Sharon Moyo, Youth Province Organising Secretary,Â 07877224113 and Simbarashe Mutero.Â MDC-T UK & Ireland SE District Youth Chair, 07543 611638.
- Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 26th November from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
- Monthly Itai Dzamara protest Saturday 10th December. From 2 â€“ 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. The protest is to mark twenty-one months since Dzamaraâ€™s abduction by intelligence agents.
- Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
- Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
- Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous yearsâ€™ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.