Immediately news broke on Wednesday that three young MDC women had disappeared after being detained by the police following a demonstration in Harare over food shortages than the world knew exactly what was going on. It has happened so often before: critics abducted by state agents to be tortured, perhaps killed, as a warning against opposing the government.
The victims this time were Zimbabwe’s youngest opposition MP Joana Mamombe and two youth leaders Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova. Alarm was expressed by Western governments and human rights groups such as Amnesty International.
The three women were eventually found more than 24 hours later dumped in Bindura, partially clothed after being assaulted. They said they had been forced to eat human excreta. Ms Mamombe and Ms Marova found it difficult to walk after their injuries while Ms Chimbiri complained of severe head pains.
An MDC spokeswoman Thabika Khumalo said the women had been brutalized and traumatised for standing up for the suffering Zimbabwean people. She said: ‘We are literally slaves in our own country’ (see: https://www.voanews.com/africa/rights-groups-condemn-torture-protesters-zimbabwe).
The police denied arresting the women. Government spokesman Nick Mangwana said police wanted to interview them on suspicion of committing crimes related to the lockdown laws and the holding of illegal demonstrations (see: https://iharare.com/govt-speaks-on-mdc-activists-abduction).
The Vigil came across Mangwana as Zanu PF leader in the UK. He was the head of a small, expensively-dressed group trying to counter our protests when Zimbabwean ministers visited London. A petition has been launched calling for his family to be deported and his British citizenship revoked (see: http://chng.it/94myW6rvzb). It has already been signed by thousands of people.
- Nothing changes with Zanu PF. A plane is reported to have landed in Zimbabwe from Germany apparently loaded with 60 tonnes of new bank notes to propel us from the official 926% inflation into the stratosphere (see: https://www.zimlive.com/2020/05/14/german-firm-prints-delivers-60-tonnes-of-zimbabwes-new-bank-notes/).
- Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have started a virtual Vigil. We asked our activists to put on Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia and take a photo of themselves holding an appropriate poster reflecting our protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The photos are uploaded on our Flickr site (see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157714327211046). Our virtual Vigil activist today was Garikai Mananje who kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
- For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’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 Vigil’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.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
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