MORE THAN 70 people were arrested and beaten in Harare, Zimbabwe, last weekend. They were taking part in a peaceful commemoration of the Soweto anti-apartheid uprising in South Africa in 1976. Socialist MP Munyaradzi Gwisai, who is due to speak at Marxism 2002 in London, was singled out for special treatment by the riot police. He was severely beaten and needed urgent medical treatment.
The 70 were held in appalling conditions, in cramped and overcrowded cells without food or water. Many of those arrested were members or supporters of the International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe.
One of those who took part in the protest writes, 'It was the day of the African child, a commemoration in honour of the students who were massacred by the apartheid regime. The Movement for Democratic Change [the opposition to President Mugabe] had organised a youth rally. The MDC leaders did not show up because the governing party had threatened to crush the rally. Hundreds of youths gathered. When we began to make speeches the riot police descended on us and started attacking people, throwing teargas everywhere. Gwisai tried to reason with the police as a leader of the demo, but they wouldn't even listen to him. Instead they thrashed him severely.'
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