Zimbabwe: International Calls Grow for Release of Detained Activists


    SW Radio Africa (London)

    Alex Bell

    4 March 2011

    Calls for the release of 45 activists detained on treason charges in Zimbabwe are spreading across the globe, with fresh outcries coming from Australia and Belgium.

    Pickets and demonstrations in solidarity with the 45 have already been witnessed in South Africa, London, America and Canada this week.

    And on Thursday night a grouping of an Australian trade union added its voice to calls for the activists’ release. The Social and Community Sector (SACS) of Metro Delegates met in Melbourne on Thursday and unanimously called for the group’s release. The union said it, “Expresses its outrage at the arrests, condemns this transparent attack on our fellow trade unionists, and demands their immediate release and the dropping of these charges.” The University of Canberra in Australia has also expressed its solidarity with the activists, calling on “the Zimbabwean Government to release them immediately.”

    At the same time, a Belgian Socialist group SAP, has expressed its solidarity with the activists, and has urged the Belgian public to assist with donations towards the detainee’s legal costs. Also, the Swiss Left Party (La Gauche – Alternative Linke – Sinistra) has agreed to put solidarity with the Zimbabweans on the agenda of its annual conference in Zurich this weekend.

    All the groups have expressed their support on the social networking website Facebook, where a group calling for the release of the activists attracted more than 700 supporters in a few days. http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/home.php?sk=group_178601402184959

    The 45 have been detained for almost two weeks and are facing treason charges, after being arrested for watching TV footage of the Egypt and Tunisia people’s revolutions. The condemnation of the arrests and solidarity being shown for the group, meanwhile, has kept growing.

    Their ongoing detention has also drawn protest from top international circles. In a letter published by the UK’s Guardian news group, 40 university professors, researchers, civilians and legal professionals from South Africa and the UK, condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of the activists.

    “We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested and we call upon the Zimbabwean ambassador in London to put pressure on Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Justice, to arrange for their release,” the letter read.

    Protesters in London meanwhile displayed their anger with Robert Mugabe’s ongoing grip on power, by ‘hanging’ the dictator outside the Zimbabwean embassy on Tuesday. About 50 demonstrators turned up for the protest, held in solidarity with efforts to hold protests in Zimbabwe, efforts that failed to lead to any mass action. But in the UK, the protesters took the opportunity to visually represent their anger, by ‘hanging’ a Mugabe stand-in.

    In Cape Town scores of people demonstrated outside Parliament, calling on the South African authorities to intervene in the Zimbabwe crisis. On Wednesday, government officials in South Africa’s Gauteng province were urged to call for the release of the Zimbabwean activists, by more than a hundred protesters in Johannesburg. The group, made up of mainly South African citizens, marched to the Gauteng Legislature, calling for tough action on Mugabe by the South African government.

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    Zimbabwe: International Calls Grow for Release of Detained Activists