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Zimbabwe opposition activists arraigned in court docket for illegal gathering

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Two dozen Zimbabwean opposition activists, together with a lawmaker arrested on the weekend when police raided the home of an MP for alleged illegal gathering, had been in court docket Monday looking for bail.

The listening to which continues Tuesday, was marked by a media blackout because the nation gears up for crunch nationwide elections anticipated later this yr.

A tense environment prevailed on the magistrates court docket within the capital Harare the place journalists had been harassed and most barred from masking proceedings by armed anti-riot cops, an AFP correspondent mentioned.

Officers armed with AK47 assault rifles, teargas canisters and batons shoved reporters away, with one ordering them to “go away the court docket constructing or get injured”.

Solely two journalists from state-run media had been allowed entry into the courtroom.

Police ought to “not selectively apply their directives to some journalists whereas excluding others,” warned the media watchdog MISA-Zimbabwe.

One of many attorneys for the arrested Kudzai Kadzere, mentioned he was assaulted by anti-riot police as he approached a police station the place the 25 activists had been held on Saturday. He suffered a fractured arm.

The assault is “a brand new low for Zimbabwe and we’re deeply disenchanted that of all individuals, the police who’ve a constitutional obligation to guard the rights of all residents have taken a entrance row seat to violating the identical,” the Regulation Society of Zimbabwe mentioned in a press release.

These arrested are members of the Residents Coalition for Change (CCC, the most important opposition social gathering led by Nelson Chamisa.

They had been arrested on Saturday whereas holding a non-public assembly on the residence of 1 lawmaker in a Harare township.

Amongst these arrested is an 83-year-old 72-year-old man and a 17 yr outdated lady.

Rights teams and opposition events have complained of an elevated authorities clampdown on dissent with basic elections due this yr.

“It is an arrest that was calculated to persecute our members,” social gathering spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere. “We’re persevering with to see an escalation of political violence… “

“We would like elections, we do not need conflict. This doe not bode nicely for a free and honest election,” she instructed reporters exterior the court docket.