One of the detainees was pushed out of a second floor window resulting in a broken leg, some are HIV positive and in need of their life-saving medicine. All have been denied access to medical treatment, lawyers and proper meals.

Unfortunately, this is only one example out of thousands of human rights violations which are happening daily in Zimbabwe. As human rights activists, we strongly disagree with these practices.

As a result, PASSOP has organised a group of grass-roots people, concerned South Africans, students and Zimbabweans will be protesting on Tuesday, 1st of March 2011 from 11:00 until 13:00 on Plein Street in front of Parliament.

We are demonstrating against the unacceptable detention of these 45 activists in Harare by the ZANU PF regime. We believe that South Africa is seen by the continent as a role model, it is a key player in solving the Zimbabwean situation and it must once and for all step up to the plate and make demands based on the will of the Zimbabwean people. The South African government must demand their immediate release from detention and must monitor their case carefully. Zimbabweans must be given the right to gather and express themselves freely.

We are also protesting in support of a small group of individuals who have boldly announced that they want to hold a “millions citizens march” on Tuesday in Harare . Thus we protest at the same time in solidarity with them as we hope they are able to gather. Indeed they have made a strong statement with the name of the protest, but to mobilise and to organise under the watchful eyes of the Mugabe regime is seldom possible without enduring violence and detentions. We demand that on this day the rule of law be respected and that the violence and intimidation stop.

Regardless of the planned protest in Harare, there have already been reports of increased violence and abuse in Zimbabwe, it seems violence and elections have become come inseparable- a seasonal rampage of terror. No longer can this sort of behaviour be tolerated in Africa, especially not at our doorstep.

In Zimbabwe people continue to suffer, people continue to go hungry and life expectancy has halved since 1999. More than 80% of Zimbabweans live under the poverty line. It now appears that South Africa has budgeted to spend half a billion rand to strengthen the borders, hoping to plug the hole in a sinking ship- instead of dealing with the real problem, which is Mugabe and his regime.

2011 will already go down as one of the most significant years in history where dictatorships fall because of people power. South Africa cannot afford to be silent any more when its neighbouring country suffers severe human rights abuses. It’s time to take firm and repeated action.

For comment contact Anthony Muteti 084 351 0388
or Alex De Comarmond 072 697 4393

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