Freedom House Condemns Conviction of Activists in Zimbabwe
Freedom House condemns a Zimbabwean court’s decision to convict six activists of “inciting public violence” after they participated in a meeting to discuss lessons learned from the Arab Spring and view footage of the protests in Tunisia and Egypt. The judge ordered the six to complete 420 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine or face a year in prison. They were arrested along with 45 others in February 2011 after attending a meeting organized by University of Zimbabwe professor and former opposition leader, Munyaradzi Gwisai. The prosecutors claim that the activists conspired to overthrow the government of long-time ruler, President Robert Mugabe, while the activists said they merely participated in an academic discussion. This decision marks the first time civil society activists have been found guilty on such charges.
Zimbabwe is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual global survey of political rights and civil liberties. President Mugabe’s oppressive regime, which has dominated Zimbabwe for decades, routinely uses violence and intimidation to silence its critics and stifle political dissent. The nongovernmental sector in Zimbabwe is vibrant and resolute, but nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have faced increasing legal restrictions and extralegal harassment.
Freedom in the World 2011: Zimbabwe
Freedom of the Press 2011: Zimbabwe
Freedom at Issue Blog: The Perilous State of Freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa