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Human rights activists should be freed and the harassment of civil
society organisations stop says ACTSA
for Southern Africa (ACTSA)
January 17, 2013
Action for Southern
Africa (ACTSA), the successor organisation to the Anti Apartheid
Movement, supports the call for the release of the Director of the
Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and Chair of the Zimbabwe
in Crisis Coalition, Okay Machisa and his four colleagues, one
of whom has been detained for a month.
ACTSA is concerned
that the arrests and detention follow a pattern of seeking to intimidate
and silence civil society activists and groups in Zimbabwe who work
in support of human, civil and political rights.
Tony Dykes said "Our immediate concern is the safety and well
being of Okay Machisa and his colleagues and we urge they be granted
bail immediately. Our continuing concern is the intimidation, harassment
and attempt to silence civil society organisations and human rights
activists, which some in Zimbabwe see as a threat to their power.
It is Zimbabweans who must decide who leads them but they must be
able to do so freely. It is important that work to enable people
to understand and exercise their rights be defended and supported."
1. Police arrested
Okay Machisa on 14 January. On 16 January he was denied bail and
remanded in custody until 30 January. He is charged with forgery
and conspiracy to commit fraud and alternatively publishing falsehoods
prejudicial to the state. The charges are in connection with electoral
registration and voter education. Also accused are, Farai Benny,
Tatenda Chinaka, Dorcas Shereni and Leo Chamahwinya.
2. Police raided
the Zimrights Office on 13 December 2012 and arrested Leo Chamahwinya.
Deputy National Programme Coordinator on charges of conducting illegal
voter registration. He has been detained since then.
Zimbabwean NGOs which were raided by police in 2012 include Zimbabwe
Human Rights Association (Zimrights), Counselling
Services Unit (CSU), Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum, Election
Resource Centre (ERC), and Gays
and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ)
4. Zanu PF at
their conference in December 2012 said they would instruct the government
to deregister NGOs which deviated from their mandate.
will hold presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.
6. Action for
Southern Africa (ACTSA) is the successor organisation to the British
Anti Apartheid Movement. It campaigns for justice, rights and development
in solidarity with the people of southern Africa.
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