LONDON – Exiled Zimbabweans demonstrated outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Saturday about the abduction of the human rights activist Itai Dzamara whose brave Harare protest ‘Occupy Africa Unity Square’ (OAUS) has made him a beacon of freedom.
There are mounting fears that Itai has been killed by state security agents because he was seen being bundled into an unmarked truck by 5 unidentified men – typical CIO behaviour.
At the suggestion of the writer Vince Musuwe, Vigil supporters carried posters ‘I am Itai Dzamara’ to show solidarity with a man Musuwe said had ‘a burning desire to do that which we must despite the personal cost’.
Musuwe asked: ‘Where are our pastors and our bishops? Where are our churches, civic organisations, human rights activists and our NGOs, our prophets and prophetesses, our community leaders, our opposition political party leaders and all those amongst us and in the Diaspora who claim that they stand for our freedom? Where are you all now because words alone will not do?’ For Musuwe’s message see: https://nehandaradio.com/2015/03/13/i-am-itai-dzamara/.
Among those at the Vigil was Tendai Kwari, leader of OAUS-UK, who said he feared for Itai’s life. He added that a citizen of Zimbabwe could not be allowed to just disappear. ‘We are all now living in fear’.
Ephraim Tapa, President of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR). told the fired-up gathering that many people had disappeared after being abducted and tortured or from so-called accidents. ‘Enough is enough’ he said.
‘We must move the struggle to another level. The Zanu PF regime must be dismantled. People must demonstrate outside Zimbabwe’s embassies abroad and use social media to encourage people at home to join the protest.’
Itai Dzamara has been arrested, assaulted and tortured several times during his protest which was launched last October when he called on Mugabe to step down.
For a video showing the treatment that he might have received from the state, see: http://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/Watch-Zimbabwe-police-brutality-20150313.
Some people at the Vigil have experienced this brutality at first hand. A collection was taken at the Vigil for Itai Dzamara’s wife Sheffa, who says her young children haven’t stopped crying for their father to come home.
People might like to sign an online petition to the European Union asking for their help to ensure the release of Itai Dzamara: https://www.change.org/p/council-of-the-european-union-call-for-the-release-of-occupy-zimbabwe-leader-itai-dzamara?recruiter=254630181&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition
· Not troubled by Itai’s fate, Mugabe set off with about 100 hangers-on for an obscure UN conference in Japan on ‘Disaster Risk Reduction’, riding roughshod over objections from the Japanese Embassy in Harare at the bloated delegation (see: https://nehandaradio.com/2015/03/13/mugabe-and-japanese-embassy-clash-over-entourage-to-japan/).
· The Voice for Democracy group has appealed to EU countries to send observers to the by-elections on 27th March, which include Chiramanzu-Zibagwe where the wife of Vice-President Mnangagwa is standing as Zanu PF candidate against Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe. Mr Ngarivhume says he fears intimidation and fraud being used yet again as an electoral tool (see: Voice of Democracy’s message to the Zimbabwe Election Commission on our campaigns page on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/669-voice-of-democracys-message-to-the-zimbabwe-election-commission-).
· Our friends from the Swaziland Vigil are meeting Vincent Ncongwane, Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress of Swaziland, on Wednesday 18th March in London. Swaziland is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world but opposition voices are growing louder and the government and monarchy are coming under growing pressure for democratic reform. Mr Ncongwane will speak of the role the Swazi Vigil UK can play in supporting the struggle. See ‘Events and Notices’ for meeting details. To see Vincent Ncongwane interviews: http://youtu.be/FTNlKuJPk0Q.
· For photos from Paul Davey of our protest on Mugabe’s 91st birthday, see: http://pauldaveycreative.photoshelter.com/gallery/2015-02-21-UK-Zimbabweans-mark-Mugabes-91st-birtday-with-embassy-protest/G0000HpfLNoDfHI0/.
· Thanks to Epiphania Phiri, Deborah Harry and Shylette Chipungura for selling snacks and drinks to fundraise for the Vigil.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
FOR THE RECORD: 59 signed the register.