Lawyers march ends in violence


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A peaceful march by about 40 lawyers to protest the arrest of two human rights colleagues, Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni, ended with violence as riot police used batons to disperse and beat up the crowd.

Law Society of Zimbabwe president Beatrice Mtetwa had called for the march to deliver to Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa, Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri a petition protesting the government’s arrest of Muchadehama and Makoni as a “direct attack” on the independence of the legal profession.

As the start time of the march approached, the officer in charge of the 20 or so riot police present ordered the crowd to disperse or they would be beaten.

When the lawyers did not disperse he ordered his men to move in.

Initially the police made only a half-hearted effort to get the lawyers to disperse.

However, the officer in charge then chased after the group shouting: “I said charge them, I said charge them”.

The police then began beating the lawyers with batons.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07HARARE394, LAWYER’S MARCH ENDS IN VIOLENCE

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

07HARARE394

2007-05-08 15:02

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO8978

PP RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0394/01 1281502

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 081502Z MAY 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1445

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1593

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1460

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1597

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0261

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0861

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1225

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1653

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4058

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1422

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2080

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0720

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1814

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY 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 000394

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR E. LOKEN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/08/2017

TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: LAWYER’S MARCH ENDS IN VIOLENCE

 

REF: HARARE 00383

 

Classified By: Charge Eric T. Schultz under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (U) A May 8 march organized by the Law Society of Zimbabwe

to protest the arrest of two human rights lawyers, Alec

Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni (reftel), ended with violence

as riot police used batons to disperse and beat a crowd of

approximately 40. Police temporarily detained several of the

marchers, but they were released and there appear to have

been no arrests. The extent of any injuries remained

unknown. Post has provided recommended press guidance in

paragraph 6. End Summary.

 

——————————————

Lawyer’s Protest March Violently Disbursed

——————————————

 

2. (U) Law Society President Beatrice Mtetwa called for the

march to deliver to Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa,

Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele and Police Commissioner

Augustine Chihuri a petition protesting the government’s

arrest of Muchadehama and Makoni as a “direct attack” on the

independence of the legal profession.

 

3. (U) More than 40 lawyers gathered in judicial robes in

front of the High Court to start the march. Western

diplomats, including Embassy personnel, were present as

observers. As the start time of the march approached, the

officer in charge of the 20 or so riot police present ordered

the crowd to disperse or they would be beaten. When the

lawyers did not disperse he ordered his men to move in.

Initially the police made only a half-hearted effort to get

the lawyers to disperse. However, the officer in charge then

chased after the group shouting “I said charge them, I said

charge them.” The police then began beating the lawyers with

batons.

 

4. (SBU) Law Society President Mtetwa told us that as the

initial beatings took place she and two other lawyers

attempted to proceed to the Ministry of Justice to deliver

the petition. Several police officers approached them, beat

them, and then forced them into a car. The police drove them

to the outskirts of town, had them get out of the car and lie

on their stomachs, and beat them on their backs. After

police left, Mtetwa and the two other sought medical

attention.

 

5. (U) Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyers told

us after the march that several lawyers had been briefly

detained but that none were arrested. They did not yet have

information on the extent of the injuries suffered by the

marchers.

 

————————————–

Comment and Recommended Press Guidance

————————————–

 

6. (C) To our knowledge, this is the first time that

Zimbabwean lawyers have ever been publicly beaten by police.

As noted reftel, the government is crossing new lines in its

 

HARARE 00000394 002 OF 002

 

 

efforts to suppress all opposition. In order to draw

international attention to the government’s continuing

abuses, we recommend the Department release a press statement

along the following lines:

 

&We deplore the Government of Zimbabwe’s attack today on

lawyers protesting the detention this weekend of two human

rights lawyers. The government’s assault on the legal

profession and the rule of law is part of its continuing

effort to suppress all opposition in advance of next year’s

election. These actions are not conducive to the free and

fair election Zimbabwe needs to bring an end to its crisis.

We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to respect the rights

of all Zimbabweans, to respect the rule of law, and to allow

the legal profession to serve its important role unmolested.8

SCHULTZ

(2 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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