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Cablegate: Protests Lead to Beatings, Arrests

VZCZCXRO8059
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0934/01 2911124
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171124Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3576
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2362
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2480
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0990
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1758
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2113
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2534
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4966
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1629
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000934

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/S FOR B. WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI
SUBJECT: PROTESTS LEAD TO BEATINGS, ARRESTS

REF: A. HARARE 592
B. HARARE 479

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Two civil society groups led marches of 200 people
each this week, drawing attention to the humanitarian crisis
and crumbling educational infrastructure. In both instances,
police beat protesters to disburse the groups and arrested
those leading the marches. Despite the ongoing political
negotiations and calls for unity, it appears "business as
usual" prevails as police continue to use excessive force in
the face of peaceful demonstrations. END SUMMARY.

------------------------------------
Students Protest Crumbling Education
------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On October 14, approximately 200 youth, led by
officers of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU),
marched to parliament to present a petition detailing their
concerns about the state of education in Zimbabwe. The
University of Zimbabwe remains closed, as there is still no
water on campus. Riot police accompanied the students for
several blocks and initially did not appear concerned with
the march. On arrival at the parliament building, where the
members were convening for their first session, two ZINASU
leaders entered the building to present the petition and were
arrested inside the building. Outside, police beat the
students to disperse them. A third student outside,
protesting the excessive use of force, was also arrested. One
student fled and hid nearby; when police found her, they beat
her until she lost consciousness. The three students who
were arrested were released later that night after paying a
fine. Medical personnel treated a total of 26 students,
including one with a head injury who was held for observation
and released the next morning.

--------------------------------------------
WOZA Calls for National Disaster Declaration
--------------------------------------------

3. (U) In Bulawayo on October 16, Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) led a march of about
200 people to Mhlahlandlela Government Complex to call on
government to declare a national disaster and to demand
immediate food aid for all Zimbabweans. They carried a
declaration addressed to Zimbabwean leaders, Thabo Mbeki, and
the SADC and AU Chairmen, calling on them to enact an
agreement and put Zimbabweans ahead of their own needs. The
declaration said, "we have lost patience with your kind of
'African solution'... If police officers arrest us or beat us
as we make our demand, you must take it as another sign of
your empty promises for a violence free Zimbabwea and an
unfortunate African solution to silence and disrespect
citizens."

4. (SBU) The protesters sat peacefully outside the building
and sang songs including "this is an issue men are failing to
solve". After about 45 minutes, riot police arrived and
arrested WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu
and forcibly dispersed the rest of the crowd with batons,
breaking one woman's finger. Seven women had been arrested
at the beginning of the protest when police rounded up black
market foreign currency dealers near the march's starting
point and were released without charge later on October 16.
As of the morning of October 17, Williams and Mahlangu remain
in jail facing unknown charges. According to WOZA, Detective

HARARE 00000934 002 OF 002


Chief Inspector Ntini continues to deny the women's lawyer
access to them.

5. (SBU) The WOZA protest came the day after 14 members were
due to face trial for a May protest in Harare (reftels). In
their previous court hearing on August 28, a Harare
magistrate told the state prosecutor that the trial was set
for October 15, and if the state was not ready to try the
case, it would be removed from remand (essentially, removing
it from the queue of cases to be tried). On October 15, the
State insisted it was ready for trial, but that the docket
was not available, so the trial could not yet proceed. The
magistrate nevertheless removed the case from remand.

DHANANI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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