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Anti-Mugabe birthday protesters 'brutally attacked' by police in Harare

Harare – Several activists have been hospitalised after they were allegedly bashed by Zimbabwean police for protesting against President Robert Mugabe’s lavish birthday celebrations over the weekend.

Information obtained by News24 late on Monday indicated that the demonstrators were accosted by police while protesting “peacefully” at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare on Saturday. This was the same day that Mugabe and the Zanu-PF faithful wined and dined at Matobo hills, to mark the veteran leader’s 93rd birthday. 

Among those admitted at the state-run hospital was human rights activist Linda Masarira, who was assaulted before being arrested together with her 17-year-old son.

Although Zimbabwe police spokesperson Charity Charamba could not immediately comment on the bashing and subsequent arrest of the protesters, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), a human rights group which documents violations, condemned the violent attack on Masarira and the other protesters.

ZPP revealed that the protesters were demonstrating peacefully while sitting on the lawns at Parirenyatwa hospital when they were attacked.

Badly injured 

The protesters expressed their displeasure with the birthday celebrations by Mugabe and his party while the situation at public health institutions deteriorates. 

ZPP said that police arrived in a T35 vehicle and immediately attacked the protesting citizens. 

"Five police officers attacked Linda and assaulted her using baton sticks and clenched fists all over her body," said ZPP executive director, Jestina Mukoko.

"They also arrested Linda and five other citizens including her 17-year-old son before detaining them at Harare Central police station, only to release them at around 20:00 on $10 admission of guilt fine for criminal nuisance unjustified by the constitution," Mukoko said, while confirming that Musarira was badly injured and that she was admitted at a private hospital. Her thighs, back and legs were swollen, Mukoko revealed. 

She noted that the Zimbabwean constitution guarantees the right to demonstrate or petition and as such the police are expected to defend these freedoms and not to trample on them.

"It is the duty of the state to ensure that the police do not infringe on the rights of citizens and the ZPP calls on the Human Rights Commission and the police to investigate the officers who were involved in this brutal attack which serves nothing but to blemish the already questionable human rights record of the government," she charged.

News24


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