From Ferguson to Zimbabwe, Police must Protect Peaceful Freedom of Expression

Zimbabwe police

Riot police in military gear in the streets, dispersing peaceful protestors gathered to address grievances with their government. Protestors threatened with weapons. Civil rights violated. Despite similarities to recent events in the US, I’m not talking about Ferguson. This is Zimbabwe.
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Inaction by Authorities Leads to Violence in Egypt

Egyptian protesters cheer as they enter the grounds of the St Mark's Cathedral in Abasseyya during clashes with Egyptian riot police on April 7, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt (Photo Credit: Ed Giles/Getty Images).

Egyptian protesters cheer as they enter the grounds of the St Mark’s Cathedral in Abasseyya during clashes with Egyptian riot police on April 7, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt (Photo Credit: Ed Giles/Getty Images).

By Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Egypt researcher

On Sunday I attended the Cairo funeral of four Coptic Christians killed on Friday night in Khousous, a small town north of the city.

I had been planning to travel to Khousous to find out more about the sectarian violence which led to the deaths there. Instead, I found myself caught up in more violence at the funeral itself – with mourners on one side, and unknown assailants and, later, security forces on the other.

Before the clashes erupted, feelings of grief, anger and injustice were palpable inside Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, which was filled with mourners. Tears, prayers and wailing were drowned out by chants against the government and the Muslim Brotherhood, and vows to avenge the dead.

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Healing Hearts, Raising Spirits in Zimbabwe

Women of Zimbabwe Arise

Women of Zimbabwe Arise

Everyone has been blessed in their life with at least one strong, female role model that showed grace under pressure, kindness when facing adversity, strength when challenged. Whether a grandmother, sister, teacher, supervisor or friend, she was someone who inspired and guided you. Personally, I think my mom is pretty fantastic; but I have also been lucky enough to know many other strong, passionate women I consider role models and among those are the leaders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).

 WOZA is a grassroots activist movement in Zimbabwe started by women, led by women and grown by women into a membership of more than 70,000 across Zimbabwe. Magodonga Mahlangu, Jenni Williams and Trust work to improve living conditions for all Zimbabweans as they promote the self-esteem of their members. They practice non-violent civil disobedience as they take to the streets demanding better schools, better hospitals, greater civil liberties, advancement of human rights, a new constitution that protects Zimbabweans and promotes the rule of law, responsible government that works for the people not for themselves and free and fair elections. Their marches are characterized by singing, dancing and complete passivism when faced by violent dispersal by the Zimbabwe police and anti-riot police. 

WOZA began on Valentines Day in 2003, inspired by their slogan “the power of love is greater than the love of power.” Every year they mark their anniversary with large scale marches in major Zimbabwe cities. As a matter of course, these protests are broken up by Zimbabwe police officers, usually with violence. Already in the four short weeks of 2010, thirty-five WOZA members have been arrested for marching for education or meeting to discuss constitutional reform.

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