Six Zimbabwean activists who were arrested in February of this year in relation to a lecture about revolt in North Africa, will be tried on the 18th of July for attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected government. If convicted, they could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Eddson Chakuma, Antonater Choto, Hopewell Gumbo, Munyaradzi Gwisai, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Welcome Zimuto were among a group of 45 activists who were arrested and charged with treason on 19 February after attending and organizing a lecture entitled ‘Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia: What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and Africa’. On 7 March, 39 of the activists were released after a Magistrates court dismissed the treason charges against them. The remaining six, who either spoke at the lecture or work with the Zimbabwean chapter of the International Socialist Organisation, which organized the lecture, were held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day until they were released on bail on 16 March. Several of the activists, including Munyaradzi Gwisai, were reportedly beaten by security agents while in prison.
Although the state dropped the charges of treason, which can carry the death penalty under Zimbabwe’s penal code, the six activists are now due to stand trial on 18 July for the lesser charge of attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected government. These charges violate the activists’ freedom of expression. If convicted the charge, which Amnesty International considers to be politically motivated, carries a maximum prison sentence of twenty years.
Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible: Note: Please write on behalf of these persons even though you may not have received the original UA when issued on March 3, 2011. Thanks!
-Calling for the charges against Eddson Chakuma, Antonater Choto, Hopewell Gumbo, Munyaradzi Gwisai, Tatenda Mombeyarara and Welcome Zimuto to be dropped immediately.
-Expressing concern that the six are facing trial solely as a result of peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs
Hon Patrick Chinamasa Government of Zimbabwe New Government Complex P. Bag 7751, Causeway Harare, ZIMBABWE
011 263 4 790901
The Attorney General
Johannes Tomana Government of Zimbabwe P. Bag 7714, Causeway Harare, ZIMBABWE
Fax: 011 263 4 777049
Salutation: Dear Attorney General