When love meets the baton stick

HARARE - Love turned sour in the capital last week as police turned violent, using teargas and baton sticks to attack women marching to express love.

Code named “Marching in the name of love”, the action received hostility from Zimbabwe’s male-dominated police force.

Holding red roses, the women from the Women of Zimbabwe Arise movement (Woza) learnt the hard way that in Zimbabwe, love is tough.

On Wednesday the rose met the baton stick and teargas.

As women marched towards Parliament building to demand love and peace in the upcoming referendum, police took the opportunity to snuff out any love that was in the air by teargasing the marchers.

Pandemonium ensued as the women fled for cover and safer air.

Amidst this confusion, Woza leaders remained seated and endured the battering from the police.

 Woza members who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday were devastated by the treatment they received from police.

“The environment under which we work is not friendly to human rights’ defenders. We are arrested, tortured and persecuted by police officers. Two leaders are even facing fabricated criminal charges of kidnapping and theft,” said one of the women. “Instead of the police ensuring the peace they are the ones who disturb our peace.”

While the country’s Principals have denounced violence, increased deployment of army and militia was reported by Woza members.

The “love march” which is an annual commemoration for Woza, is routinely marred by violence and brutality from the police.

Last year two groups of marchers were arrested in Bulawayo for taking part in the march.

The police said the leaders were arrested because they had not sought approval to stage the march.

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