Pig. Fuzz. 5-0 (as in Hawaii). These are some American slang terms for police. I won’t even get into some of the terms police are referred to around the world. (The Moustached Pagoda? Really Canada?) Despite our affectionate, or not so affectionate, appellations for police officers, they are an invaluable and indispensable part of society and do far more good than harm. Zimbabwe is no exception to this rule-really, the police are usually the good guys. Unless they are acting under order of unscrupulous persons desperate to hold on to power and squash dissent. Sadly, then you see events that have unfolded all to often lately in Zimbabwe; where club wielding anti-riot police go after protestors marching peacefully in the streets.
On a day to day basis in Zimbabwe, police officers go about their business preventing crime and protecting citizens; but these officers are also deployed to repress those same citizens. Students, lawyers, trade unionists, political activists have all felt the unrelenting force of anti-riot batons as they violently disperse Zimbabweans gathering in the streets to demand human rights, equitable treatment, and greater civil liberties.
Because they march so frequently, the members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) are often the target of this violent repression. WOZA is a grass roots movement of primarily women activists that demand a better life for all Zimbabweans through non-violent civic activism. They are grandmothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and cousins who sing and dance in the streets calling for a future for their children, families, friends and neighbors that incorporates strong human rights standards and civil liberties. And because of this, they are frequently violently beaten by the anti-riot police.
This Valentines Day, as WOZA marches in the streets, we are calling on the Zimbabwe anti-riot police to treat the ladies of WOZA as they would want their mother to be treated-with respect. As a police officer you may be ordered to disperse a protest, but you are not required to do so with violence. Send a valentine to the Zimbabwe anti-riot police during the month of February and remind them that real men don’t beat women. Ever.