INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS
Zimbabwe: Fears for safety of imprisoned trade unionists
Brussels, November 9, 2005 (ICFTU OnLine):: The International Confedartion of Trade Unions received further disturbing news today concerning the fate of nearly 200 trade unionists arrested by the Mugabe regime for protesting against poverty.
Leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were amongst 118 people arrested in the capital Harare. The ICFTU has received reports that Wellington Chibebe, ZCTU General Secretary, has been tortured whilst in detention. Fifty other trade unoinists were arrested around the rest of the country. All the prisoners have been transferred to Chitunwiza, twenty-five kilometers outside of Harare.
Amongst those still imprisoned are twenty people living with HIV/AIDS who have been denied access to medication. The ICFTU also received reports that amongst those held are five women with babies. None of those imprisoned have been charged.
"We hold grave concerns for the well being of those arrested, in particular Chibebe and the prisoners living with HIV/AIDS. This latest escalation in the persecution of trade unionists in Zimbabwe has become a life and death situation, " Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the ICFTU commented today.
"President Mugabe must immediately release the prisoners and give a clear guarantee that neither Chibebe, nor any of the other trade unionists will be tortured again. It is unacceptable to the international trade union movement or to his own people that they be treated in this manner," Ryder added.
The ZCTU also reported that one of its' regional officers, Tambaoga Nyazika was today threatened at gunpoint by a person identifying himself to be a policeman.
The ICFTU also wrote to President Mugabe today calling for the Public Order Security Act, which severely limits freedom of expression through heavy fines and imprisonment of up to ten years against people found guilty of disturbing the peace, security and public order to be abolished.
The ICFTU represents 145 million workers through its 234 affiliated organisations in 154 countries and territories. The ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org