Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Human Rights Defenders re-arrested and detained again

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Updates

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHRF) is deeply disturbed to learn of the court ruling in Harare today, 5.5.09 by Magistrate Catherine Chimhanda to further incarcerate and remand in custody Jestina Mukoko and other human rights defenders / journalists. A Press Conference on this issue was to take place today in the afternoon at the offices of Zimbabwe Peace Project, the attached invitation refers.This news comes in the wake of a court appearance in Harare Magistrate's Court yesterday, 4.05.09 by Jestina Mukoko and other co-accused. At yesterday's hearing the Magistrate granted the State leave to indict Mukoko and those with whom she is jointly accused.

The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) today 5.5.09 issued the attached Statement about “the re-arrest and detention of human rights defenders, in particular Zimbabwe Peace Project director Ms. Jestina Mukoko and freelance journalist Mr. Andrisson Manyere on charges that can only be considered political”. MAZ states that it will not participate in the Kariba Media workshop (see statements in our mailing of 24.4.09) given this disturbing news.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in conjunction with the Electoral Institute for Southern Africa (EISA) held a conference around the theme of Post Electoral Review and Prospects for Electoral Reform 28 and 29 April. The conference concluded that the transitional government offers the unique opportunity to reform key electoral institutions, democratize the electoral framework and to draw Zimbabweans into a national debate on these issues. A number of documents from the conference are available to read on line via the following web link: http://www.zesn.org.zw/publications.cfm?pid=1 .The press statement following the conference is available to read at http://www.zesn.org.zw/pub_view.cfm?pid=172

Ahead of the anticipated re-opening of schools in Zimbabwe today, Amnesty International released a Press Statement on 1.5.09 about the atmosphere of fear that teachers in the country are working under. Amnesty reports that teachers are being threatened with violence by supporters of ZANU PF. It says those in rural areas, are especially frightened of being singled out as perceived supporters of the MDC and fear a repeat of this brutality in future elections. Amnesty International calls on the teachers' employers, the Public Service Commission (PSC), to work with the Zimbabwe Republic Police to ensure that impartial and independent investigations are carried out into the torture and ill-treatment of teachers and other civil servants that took place between the March and June elections in 2008. The full statement can be found on this link:http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/zimbabwean-teachers-working-fear-20090501

The Students Solidarity Trust (SST) issued the April Solidarity newsletter on 4.5.09, providing an overview of all the student activism in Zimbabwe during the month and giving a summary of the charges laid against the students.Today, 5.5.09 the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) issued the attached Media Alert calling for the immediate re-opening of the University of Zimbabwe and noting their concern at the silence by the inclusive government on the issue.Also today, 5.5.09 the Lupane chapter of Bulawayo Agenda issued an update following a meeting with residents of the area on the theme of the main successes and challenges of the inclusive government's first days, which we attach.

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