Zimbabwe: Investigation required into police attack during Harare demonstration
Amnesty International has demanded an immediate investigation into the killing of Gift Tandare, a Zimbabwean activist shot dead by riot police on Sunday 11 March’s demonstration in Harare.
The organisation also expressed serious concern for the welfare of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders Morgan Tsvangirai, currently in detention at Borrowdale Police Station, and Arthur Mutambara, detained at Avondale Police Station. Both have been severely beaten while in police custody.
Other leaders, including Tendai Biti, the Secretary General of the Tsvangirai-led MDC; Grace Kwinje, the Party's Deputy Secretary for International Relations; and Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson for the MDC, have also sustained severe injuries while in police custody. Grace Kwinje is reported to have lost part of her ear as a result of the beatings.
Amnesty International called for all detainees who engaged in non-violent protest to be released immediately, and for those arrested for engaging in violent protest to be guaranteed a fair trial.
Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme said:
"We are calling on the Zimbabwean government to immediately release all those arrested for peaceful protests.
"The killing of Gift Tandare must be investigated immediately and the perpetrators bough to justice. The government must also guarantee the safety and well-being of all those in police custody. All detainees should be given immediate access to their lawyers and medical care."
Gift Tandare’s death took place during a protest against a police ban on all peaceful demonstrations in Harare's low-income suburb of Highfield. The demonstration was organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.
Several protestors are reported to have sustained injuries following excessive use of force by riot police, who were attempting to disperse the demonstrators. Amnesty International fears that those in police custody may be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by police.
Amnesty International is deeply concerned by the severe restrictions of freedom of expression, assembly and association following the blanket ban on rallies and demonstrations from 20 February to 20 May 2007.
Under Section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act, which is being cited by police to implement the three-month ban, public demonstrations can only be prohibited for a specified period 'not exceeding one month'.
More than 50 people were reported to have been arrested at the demonstration and remain in detention. The state media has also reported that three policemen also sustained injuries while dispersing the protestors.
Lawyers have been denied access to all those in detention except for Lovemore Madhuku and Grace Kwinge.