Saturday, 26 February 2011

Zimbabwe: 46 arrested activists charged with treason, tortured

Munyaradzi Gwisai, who spoke in Auckland in April 2007.

25 February, 2011

It has now been confirmed that detained labour movement activist and leading member of the International Socialist Organization Zimbabwe Munyaradzi Gwisai (pictured) and 45 other activists detained by the Zimbabwe state on February 19 have been charged with treason.

If found guilty of treason, the activists risk a sentence of death or life imprisonment. They are being tortured to extract bogus confessions.

The arrests followed a raid on a closed meeting that was discussing the implications of the revolutions in the Arab world.

Gwisai is director of the Labor Law Centre and former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP.

We call on all readers, to urgently send protest messages calling for the dropping of all charges and the immediate release of the comrades. We also call on you to contact trade unions and unionists, human rights groups and members, and anyone else who can send such messages.
Please send statements of protest to and copy to and
See below for a selection of protest statements.
You can also email protest letters to the Zimbabwe embassy in Australia [which also covers New Zealand].
People can also call the following numbers to exert pressure – at least to let the powers that be know that people are aware of what is going on.
  • Patrick Chinamasa (minister of “justice”): 263 4 860 006 (home)
  • President’s Office: +263 4 252 440 or +263 4 700 071
  • Police Commisioner Augustine Chihuri: +263 4 250 008 (office) or +263 11 808 290 (mobile)
  • Home Affairs (police) Minister Kembo Mohadi: +263 11 605 424 (mobile) or +263 4 794628 (office)
  • State Security (CIO) Minister Didymus Mutasa: +263 11 200 532 (mobile) or 263 4 774189 (office)
  • Wayne Bvudzijena (police spokesman): +263 11 801 172 (mobile)
  • Happyton Bonyongwe (director of the Central Intelligence Organisation): +263 4 497 849 (home)
  • In Australia (and New Zealand) please send an urgent e-mail to Zimbabwean officials calling for the activists and socialists to be released immediately and unharmed to

by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

February 25, 2011 -- Detained social justice activist Munyaradzi Gwisai on February 24 lamented the torture sessions to which 46 activists are being subjected by state security agents as tragic and inexpressible.

Gwisai, who testified before Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi during an application for refusal of placement on remand for the 45 human rights activists filed by defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama disclosed in court that he, together with other activists, were subjected to torture during their detention by the police at Harare Central Police Station.

Gwisai said the torture sessions were aimed at securing confessions which would implicate them in the commission of treason, a charge which they are now facing.
Gwisai said he was tortured together with five other detainees in a room in the basement at Harare Central Police Station by nine state security agents who included some police officers who had arrested them.

During the torture sessions, which were recorded on video, the detainees were asked to recount what had transpired during their meeting which was held on Saturday, February 19, 2011, in central Harare.

Gwisai said each of the six detainees received a series of lashes which were administered while they lay down on their stomachs. He added that he received between 15 and 20 lashes as the police and his tormentors sought to obtain confessions from him and the other detainees.

Gwisai said the pain which he endured and suffered as a result of the torture sessions was “indescribable, sadistic and a tragedy for Zimbabwe”.

The University of Zimbabwe labour law lecturer said it was extremely difficult for him to sit and walk because of the torture sessions he underwent together with other detainees.

Gwisai said the meeting held on February 19 was held to discuss International Socialist Organization business and issues of democracy and constitutionalism and not to plot the toppling of the government as alleged by the police and prosecutors. He added that the meeting, which was attended by HIV/AIDS activists, was also meant to commemorate the life of a deceased HIV and AIDS activist, Navigator Mungoni.

Earlier on Muchadehama outlined the detainees’ complaints against the police.
The detainees’ lawyer said the arrest of his clients was unlawful as they were not advised of the reason/s for their arrest. He also advised that they were detained in filthy and stinking police cells. He said the detainees only knew of the treason charge filed against them when they finally appeared in court on February 23, 2011 and were not warned and cautioned that statements were recorded in relation to the treason charge.

Muchadehama told the court that the police extensively subjected his clients to severe interrogation sessions where they attempted to coax some of the detainees to turn against their colleagues and be considered state witnesses.

He said some of the detainees were assaulted, brutalised and tortured while in police custody. The defence lawyer said the torture sessions were administered through assaults all over the detainees’ bodies, under their feet and buttocks through the use of broomsticks, metal rods, pieces of timber, open palms and some blunt objects.

In his application for refusal of remand Muchadehama argued that the facts as outlined by the state did not constitute the commission of an offence.

The matter continues on February 28, 2011, when prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba, who applied for the placement of the detainees on remand, cross examines Gwisai. In the meantime, all 45 will remain incarcerated in remand prison in Harare and at Chikurubi Women’s Prison for the women detainees.

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