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Tsvangirai threatened to pull out

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai threatened to pull out of the 20008 elections if something was not done about violence.

He said this after activists from the National Constitutional Assembly and the Women of Zimbabwe Arise were arrested for demonstrating for a new constitution.

Elections were only five months away.

According to the United States embassy there was a sharp contrast between the supposed progress being made in the SADC mediation to establish conditions for free and fair elections and the reality of the poisonous atmosphere of violence and fear the government continued to perpetuate.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07HARARE940, POLICE BEAT PEACEFUL MARCHERS CALLING FOR NEW

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE940

2007-10-17 14:52

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO2031

PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0940/01 2901452

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 171452Z OCT 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2034

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1733

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1608

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1737

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0374

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1017

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1366

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1794

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4223

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0858

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000940

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2017

TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: POLICE BEAT PEACEFUL MARCHERS CALLING FOR NEW

CONSTITUTION

 

REF: A. HARARE 00671

 

B. HARARE 00503

C. HARARE 00870

 

Classified By: Poloff Scott Higgins, reason: 1.4 d

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (U) Riot police used baton sticks to disperse more than 50

NCA activists peacefully marching in Harare on October 16 for

a new constitution. Several NCA activists were arrested and

released without charge and more than 30 were injured. The

assault comes on the heels of the arrest of 75 WOZA members

in Harare on October 15 for marching to raise awareness about

political violence against its members. Police did not use

excessive force in these arrests, and all WOZA activists were

released that same day without charge. As we have noted,

there is a sharp contrast between the supposed progress being

made in the SADC mediation talks to establish conditions for

free and fair elections and the reality of the poisonous

atmosphere of violence and fear the government continues to

perpetuate. End Summary.

 

——————————-

NCA Activists Get the Stick…

——————————-

 

2. (U) An unannounced National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)

march of more than 50 members on October 16 was met by scores

of riot police wielding batons in downtown Harare. The group

was marching to Parliament to advocate for a new

constitution. According to Embassy staff observing the

event, police met the marchers along their route and ordered

them to sit down. Soon after, a police superintendent

arrived and informed the activists they were under arrest, at

which point they scattered in all directions. Police began

beating those they could catch with baton sticks — several

pedestrians in the immediate area were also indiscriminately

beaten.

 

3. (C) NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku confirmed to us that

several activists were arrested and released without charge

and more than 30 suffered injuries. Frances Lovemore,

director of Counseling Services Unit (CSU), a local NGO that

provides medical assistance to victims of state-violence,

told us the NCA activists mostly suffered deep tissue

bruising and lacerations.

 

4. (U) This marks the second time in three months NCA

activists have elicited a violent response from security

forces. In July, police arrested and tortured more than 240

NCA members after a similar demonstration in Harare (reftel

A). In that event, police at Harare Central police station

forced the NCA activists, who included elderly women and

women with young children, to lie face down in rows as more

than 100 police officers and suspected ZANU-PF youth militia

took turns assaulting the group for five hours. All were

released that evening without charge — more than 170

required medical attention for severe injuries. One

activist, a 64-year-old grandmother, received head injuries

that CSU told us contributed to her death some five weeks

later.

 

————————————

While WOZA Gets A Pass — This Time

————————————

 

5. (U) The strong police reaction to the NCA demonstration

comes on the heels of 75 WOZA members arrested in Harare on

 

HARARE 00000940 002 OF 002

 

 

October 15 for marching to raise awareness about the group’s

recently released report on political violence against its

members. The WOZA marchers made it to Parliament, where

police arrested the group without incident. They were

released later that same day without charges.

 

6. (U) WOZA members have not been so fortunate in other

recent events. In June, for example, police in Bulawayo used

batons to violently break up a crowd of 200 WOZA activists

and arrested seven women, including WOZA leader Jenni

Williams (reftel B). There have been recent reported threats

against William,s life by several Bulawayo police officers.

 

7. (U) WOZA has good reason to draw attention to the

political violence directed against its members. The

preliminary report on political violence from WOZA offers

statistics on violations reported by the group’s members from

2000 to 2007 including: 51 abductions, 188 assaults, and 159

incidents of torture. The police were the most commonly

identified perpetrators, with a small number of violations

coming at the hands of the army. Since its founding in 2003,

WOZA has conducted more than 100 protests for social justice

and more than 3,000 members have spent time in police

custody, many more than once.

 

——–

Comment

——–

 

8. (U) As we noted in September (reftel C), there is a sharp

contrast between the supposed progress being made in the SADC

mediation to establish conditions for free and fair elections

and the reality of the poisonous atmosphere of violence and

fear the government continues to perpetuate. Many in the

opposition and civil society are outraged that talks continue

while security forces forge ahead with their repressive

activities. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has taken notice;

earlier this week he is reported to have said he would pull

his party out of the talks if something wasn’t done about the

violence. End Comment.

DHANANI

 

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