June 5, 2008,
International community must react to detention of Morgan Tsvangirai
The detention of the entire campaign party of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai in Lupane, Matabeleland, yesterday should ring alarm bells from Pretoria to Canberra to New York, said Peter Murphy of Australias Zimbabwe Information Centre today.
The June 27 run-off election is not going to be free and fair, nor will its result be respected, unless there is powerful international intervention now, said Mr Murphy.
In response to the repression following the March 29 elections, the Zimbabwe Information Centre called on the Australian government to cancel the visas of close relatives of those ZANU-PF leaders who are on the smart sanctions list. Two adult children of Mr July Moyo are in Newcastle at present, one studying, one working.
July Gabarari Moyo is a former Minister of Energy and Power Development and former Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. He has sharply aligned himself with Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former security chief now in direct control of Robert Mugabes Joint Operations Command for the current repression. Under the smart sanctions July Moyo should have no financial assets or transactions in Australia, or be able to visit Australia.
When former Foreign Minister Downer acted against nine relatives of ZANU-PF leaders last July, it sent a powerful message of support to the people of Zimbabwe, and rebuke to Mugabe. It told all of Africa that Mugabes violence was unacceptable. We need the new Australian government to send a similar message now, one that will be heard in the United Nations, said Mr Murphy.
The Tsvangirai party was released after 10 hours.
Prominent Australian Jim Holland was also detained briefly yesterday at about 3.30pm outside his home in Avondale, Harare. He had just returned from a meeting with church and aid agencies about how to get blankets, food, and medical attention to people injured and displaced by ZANU-PF violence. Two intelligence agents were waiting for him at the gate, demanded money, demanded to know the source in Australia of Mr Hollands finance, and threatened to kill him if he continued his welfare activities.
Mr Holland convinced them that he was an Australian citizen, married to a Senator-elect, and insisted that they release him. Before they left, the intelligence seized two adults sheltering in the Hollands house a woman whose buttocks were severely injured from beating, and her husband.
Senator-elect Sekai Holland is already in hiding, following sustained death threats. She was able to communicate that her husband had been snatched, and the news was quickly broadcast by BBC, at about the same time that news came through of the detention of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai.
Senator Holland, along with Morgan Tsvangirai and 30 other MDC leaders, was severely beaten and tortured on March 11, 2007, and had to come to South Africa and Australia to recover.
Election Observers from the Southern African Development Community are due to arrive between June 10 and June 13, which means another week in which the Mugabe regime will feel totally unfettered in its repression. There are no UN Election Observers allowed.
For further comment: Jim Holland - +263 912 782 208; Peter Murphy 0418 312 301
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