Release the Zimbabwean socialists

February 23, 2011

The resistance sweeping the Arab world and the repression against it has reached southern Africa, where more than 50 socialists and activists have been arrested by the Zimbabwean regime of President Robert Mugabe.

Those arrested include former member of parliament Munyaradzi Gwisai and other members of the International Socialist Organization in Zimbabwe. The activists were detained by police at a meeting where they were watching videotaped news reports from Al Jazeera and the BBC of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, according to press reports. The meeting was planned for those without access to television or Internet news reports.

According to Alec Muchadehama, Gwisai was one of seven of the detainees to be beaten with truncheons. Lawyers were unable to meet with the detainees for at least two days. "This is a message that 'If you attempt anything, we're going to arrest you, assault you, incarcerate you, lay false charges against you, deny you bail and occupy you with false trials,'" Muchadehama told the New York Times. "That's the message--'Don't attempt this, it can't be done here.'"

Mugabe and his ZANU PF have ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 following the victorious war against the former white colonial regime. But from its early years, the new government carried out campaigns of mass violence, and Mugabe has increasingly resorted to police-state repression to maintain his grip on power. Gwisai and the International Socialist Organization have been targets of the state before.

Now Mugabe and his regime are hoping to squelch the spirit of revolt sweeping across the Middle East. Activists around the world are organizing to express their outrage at the arrests and beatings--and their determination to challenge Mugabe's repression. At its convention last weekend, the International Socialist Organization unanimously passed a resolution calling for all charges to be dropped and for the regime to stop its assault on democracy.

THE ANNUAL convention of the International Socialist Organization-U.S. expresses its outrage at the arrest of 52 socialists and activists in Harare. Those arrested were meeting peacefully to discuss lessons of the Egyptian and Tunisian events for Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. According to reports, the Zimbabwean government is planning to indict those arrested on charges of incitement to oust the government of President Robert Mugabe.

We protest this attack on the most basic democratic rights, such as freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. We call for all charges to be dropped and all those arrested to be released unharmed immediately. We will stand in solidarity with those arrested until they are.

International Socialist Organization
February 21, 2011

What you can do

Send an urgent e-mail to Zimbabwean officials calling for the activists and socialists to be released immediately and unharmed.

Include these e-mail addresses in the "To" line: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].

Forward your message separately to these supporters of democracy, so they have a record of who has appealed to the regime: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected].

Join the Facebook group "Calling for the Release of Zimbabwean Activists" for updates on the case and solidarity actions.

Further Reading

From the archives