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POLICE yesterday arrested 15 activists camped at Africa Unity Square since last week protesting against government’s alleged misrule, NewsDay has learnt.
Five of the activists, including Patson Dzamara, the brother of missing activist Itai Dzamara, were arrested in the early hours yesterday morning, while 10 others were picked up later in the afternoon.
The activists had vowed to spend 16 days and nights at the square under the #16DayOccupation symbolism against bad governance.
Their lawyer Obey Shava confirmed the development, saying five of them had been charged with robbery and obstructing the course of justice, while the other were yet to be charged.
“Five of them have been charged with robbery and obstructing or defeating the course of justice. They will appear in court tomorrow (today). The other 10 were arrested this afternoon and I am still waiting to get instructions, but they are yet to be charged,” he said.
Last week, suspected State security agents reportedly attacked the demonstrators while sleeping in the park.
However, several organisations have condemned the arrest, describing it as politically motivated.
“It is unfortunate that the growing trend in the country is that government, through the security institutions, is responding to citizens’ lawful dissent such as demonstrations, sit-ins, and petitions through harassment,” ZimRights said in a statement.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) said it was alarmed by the behaviour of the police who had arbitrarily arrested peaceful demonstrators occupying Africa Unity Square.
“The arrested persons are unarmed, peaceful and raising genuine issues that must be addressed by the State. We condemn this disrespect of the rights of our comrades because they have the constitutional rights to express themselves,” CiZC said.
The MDC-T youth assembly said it stood in solidarity with the arrested activists.