Zimbabwe: Raymond Majongwe, Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)

Re: Raymond Majongwe, Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ);
Arnold Tsunga, Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Chairman of The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights)

To: Robert G. Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, and others

From: Naveen P. Mehta, Senior Legal Council UFCW and LRWC Monitor for Attacks on Labour and Workplace Rights Advocates

Date: 2007-02-12

I am the Senior Legal Counsel to the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCW), Local 175 & 633. The UFCW is a trade union with over 240,000 members across Canada, and over 1.3 million members across North America. I also act as the Monitor for Attacks on Labour and Workplace Rights Advocates on behalf of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC). LRWC is a national committee of lawyers dedicated to promoting the rule of law and human rights internationally by protecting human rights advocates and advocacy rights. As you may be aware, the LWRC retains NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

I have taken the time to write this letter as the issues contained herein are of grave concern to myself, the UFCW Canada, and LRWC. Particularly, I am writing to protest the reprehensible treatment and renewed acts of harassment of our union brother Mr. Raymond Majongwe, Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).

According to the information received, on February 5, 2007, numerous soldiers arrived in a truck and a car in front of Mr. Raymond Majongwe’s house. The vehicles stayed parked over 20 minutes with voices being heard in the background. Blinding lights were also directed at the house.

These facts occurred a few hours after Mr. Majongwe had reported to the Harare Central Police Station, Law and Order Section, where he was interrogated by the Detective Inspector Rangwani. Indeed, on February 1, 2007, several police officers from the Law and Order Section at Harare Central Police Station stormed into Mr. Raymond Majongwe’s house, while he was away. The officers proceeded to harass Mrs. Majongwe, threatening to arrest her and confiscate her identity documents. After protracted exchanges, the police officers left with a demand that Mr. Majongwe report to the Harare Central Police Station at 8 a.m. without fail. No reasons were disclosed for this demand. Finally, Mr. Majongwe and his lawyers had decided to report to the police station on February 5, 2007, fearing to be detained during the weekend.

In the past, Mr. Raymond Majongwe has been arrested, detained, beaten, prosecuted (but not convicted) on numerous occasions for engaging in peaceful protests for workers’ rights and democracy in Zimbabwe. Throughout the country, particularly in rural areas, PTUZ members have been regularly harassed.

Furthermore, Messrs. Charles Kaguramhamba, Henry Chinorumba and P. Dube, three teachers and PTUZ members who were arrested on February 2, 2007 at the Gaza Secondary School in Chipinge, for having organized a sit in calling for better work conditions and salaries, were released on the same day from the Chipinge Police Station.

On January 25, 2007, Mr. Arnold Tsunga, Executive Director of ZLHR, Chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) and 2006 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, was detained at the Harare International Airport, on his return from the World Social Forum in Kenya. Indeed, as he was leaving the arrivals terminal in the airport, Mr. Tsunga was approached by four men and brought to an office where he was briefly detained and interrogated. Mr. Tsunga was then released without charge. One of the men interrogating Mr. Tsunga is a well-known operative of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which is responsible for vetting people as they enter and exit the country. Since then, Mr. Tsunga would have been placed under surveillance by the CIO.

We express our deep concern regarding these events, the latest in a continuous pattern of harassment and repression of Zimbabwe’s human rights defenders, including trade union leaders.

As such, we urge you to commit to the following:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Raymond Majongwe and Arnold Tsunga, of all PTUZ, ZLHR and Zimrights’ members as well as of all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular its article 1 which states that:

“Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

and article 12.2, providing that:

“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”

As well we urge the government of Zimbabwe to comply with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in particular articles 9, 10, 11 and 12, which guarantee the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Zimbabwe including the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.