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Statement on the assault and violent dispersal of striking health workers | Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Statement on the assault and violent dispersal of striking health workers

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) condemns the assault andviolent dispersal of health workers who had gathered at Parirenyatwa Hospital yesterday intending to march to protest the collapse of the public health system. The protests come amid a rapid deterioration in the provision of health services, the closure of major public health institutions in Zimbabwe, a major outbreak of cholera in most high-density areas in Harare and in four other provinces across the country (Mashonaland Central, East and West and Matabeleland South) and a devastating
humanitarian situation that has left millions in need of food aid countrywide. While riot police beat the protesting health workers reports emerged of dozens more cholera victims dying in a fast-spreading outbreak of the disease.

Besides flagrantly violating the health workers’ constitutionally and internationally protected rights to assembly, association and expression, the establishment is also flouting Article XII of the Global Political Agreement which calls for the recognitionof the importance of these freedoms in a democracy. The violations that occurred yesterday do not symbolise a commitment to this agreement. Contrary to the spirit and letter of the Agreement, and under the pretext of preserving public order, politically-motivated human rights violations by members of the police continue
unabated.

The Forum calls on the establishment to immediately halt the ongoing violence and attacks on protesters that is being perpetrated under the guise of maintaining public order. The Forum reminds the establishment that no amount of beatings or intimidation will annul the issues that Zimbabweans – health workers, teachers, students, trade unionists or any other groups, are protesting. Rather, the authorities should channel resources abused in these violent and meaningless “public order maintenance” activities to address the humanitarian and health crisis gripping the
country.

We urge the authorities to stop criminalizing peaceful protest activities and implore the police to desist from the gratuitous use of force against peaceful demonstrators.

Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.