Transparency International (TI) condemns the arrest by the Zimbabwean authorities of the Chairman of its national chapter in Zimbabwe, John Makumbe, who was detained by police during a peaceful meeting of civil society leaders and trade union leaders in Harare on 18 November. Makumbe was one of a number of Zimbabwean civil society leaders detained by the police. On 19 November, he remained in police custody, not knowing what charges might be brought against him.
"The arrests represent a dangerous attack on civil freedoms, and an escalation of the hostile treatment of civil society representatives by the authorities in Zimbabwe," said Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International, the leading international non-governmental organisation dedicated to the fight against corruption worldwide. "Without the freedom of speech and of peaceful assembly, corruption and the abuse of power will continue to hold back the development and prosperity of the people of Zimbabwe," said Eigen, speaking today at the OECD Global Forum on International Investment in Johannesburg, South Africa.
John Makumbe, a member of the international board of Transparency International and a well-known political scientist and human rights activist, was arrested when riot police broke up peaceful protests against the economic policies of the government of President Robert Mugabe in Harare and other cities on 18 November. Makumbe had just returned to Harare from a meeting in Berlin, Germany, of TI's international board of directors, and was attending the meeting in Harare as one of the leaders of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, of which TI-Zimbabwe is a member.
Members of TI around the world have been sending in messages expressing their concern for the safety of John Makumbe, who was arbitrarily detained also earlier this year, when armed police prevented the holding of a meeting of civil society groups at a church in Harare on 13 February. On that occasion, Makumbe was assaulted by the police, suffering head wounds, and detained before being released on 14 February.
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