Zimbabwe Prof Arrested, Tortured for Watching Viral Vids

LazyLion

King of de Jungle
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http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/prof-arrested-tortured-for-watching-viral-vids/

Munyaradzi Gwisai, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe’s law school, was showing internet videos about the tumult sweeping across North Africa to students and activists last Saturday, when state security agents burst into his office.

The agents seized laptop computers, DVD discs and a video projector before arresting 45 people, including Gwisai, who runs the Labor Law Center at the University of Zimbabwe. All 45 have been charged with treason — which can carry a sentence of life imprisonment or death — for, in essence, watching viral videos.

Gwisai and five others were brutally tortured during the next 72 hours, he testified Thursday at an initial hearing.

There were “assaults all over the detainees’ bodies, under their feet and buttocks through the use of broomsticks, metal rods, pieces of timber, open palms and some blunt objects,” The Zimbabwean newspaper reports, in an account of the court proceedings.

Under dictator Robert Mugabe, watching internet videos in Zimbabwe can be a capital offense, it would seem. The videos included BBC World News and Al-Jazeera clips, which Gwisai had downloaded from Kubatana, a web-based activist group in Zimbabwe.

Nine out of 10 people lack internet access in Zimbabwe, and cable TV is an extravagant luxury. DStv, the monopoly satellite provider, costs $70 per month –- out of reach for most people in a country where teachers make $150 per month.

Gwisai’s meetings are an opportunity for the Zimbabweans who attend them to catch a rare glimpse of international media.

Gwisai’s wife, Shantha Bloemen, said in an interview with Wired.com that her husband had gathered with students and activists at his Labor Law Center in Harare. The idea was to watch news reports about the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and then hold an academic discussion about democracy. The title of the seminar: “Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia. What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and Africa.”

“They have regular meetings where they show films and documentaries on different social issues,” said Bloemen, an Australian-American who works for the United Nations in Johannesburg. “With the events of the day being Egypt and Tunisia, they wanted to have a meeting and a discussion around those issues.”

Appearing in a Zimbabwe court Thursday on charges of treason, Gwisai testified that he and five others had been tortured by nine state security agents who beat him and other detainees as they lay on the ground of a cell in the basement of Harare Central prison.

Gwisai described the pain as “indescribable, sadistic and a tragedy for Zimbabwe,” and said the goal of the beatings was to produce a confession on the charge of treason.

Gwisai testified that the meeting was held to watch videos of news reports about the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and then discuss and debate the concept of democracy -– not to foment a rebellion against Mugabe.

Activists said the Central Intelligence Organization, Zimbabwe’s secret police, had infiltrated the group.

Reached by phone, a relative of one of the detainees who asked to remain anonymous described Mugabe’s crackdown as “a pre-emptive strike.”

“It’s a clear indication of the fear and paranoia of this regime,” the relative said.

Mark Canning, Britain’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, which was a British colony until 1980, condemned the detentions and the treatment of the defendants.

“The charge of treason leveled against the group for apparently watching footage of events in other countries, which is readily and publicly available in the media, is excessive and politically motivated,” Canning said in a statement. “It shows the continuing abuse of the legal system by elements of the state opposed to reform and basic human rights.”

Gwisai’s lawyers have filed several countercharges against the police for torture, illegal detention and poor conditions, among other charges.

Mugabe is known as one of the most ruthless and vicious dictators in the world, and it appears he has managed to terrorize his own people sufficiently that the prospect of any sort of popular uprising is very remote.

“They’re too fractured and fearful,” Bloemen said of Zimbabwe’s opposition movement. “They’re inspired by what has happened in North Africa, but you have to reach a turning point, a critical mass, to convince people it’s worth it and you’re going to succeed. That’s always been the difficult question in Zimbabwe, getting that critical mass.”

The next court hearing is Monday in Harare. Until then, the 45 defendants remain incarcerated.

Friends and colleagues of the detainees have set up a Facebook page calling for their release.

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Wow, aren't you glad that the ANC's policy of quiet diplomacy is doing all this great work for us?
 

MickeyD

RIP
Joined
Oct 4, 2010
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The scary part is that even if Mugabe does die soon (cancer, etc), the Zimbabweans' woes are very far from over.

The real power lies with Mugabe's generals.
 

TELESPHORE

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Jul 23, 2006
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Looks like the beginning of the end for dictators and power abusers. Take note ANC . The problem though is how to heal societies that have been displaced mentally and employment wise.
 

MidnightWizard

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Nov 14, 2007
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Accuracy

Wow, aren't you glad that the ANC's policy of quiet diplomacy is doing all this great work for us?

Mark Canning, Britain’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, which was a British colony until 1980, condemned the detentions and the treatment of the defendants.

When I see cr@p like this then I just ignore the rest

Rhodesia was SELF-GOVERNING -- long past the stage of a "colony"

Rhodesia was formally taken over by Britain as part of the Lancaster House agreements and UDI was then rescinded.

This was in order that the so called "free-&-fair" elections could take place under British stewardship.

Mark Canning -- BLOOD on your hands -- and egg on your face -- the British allowed Mugabe to come to power.

1980 was the year in which Rhodesia became Zimbabwe ( and the wheels fell off )

If Rhodesia was a British "colony" then SA was a British "colony" as well -- up until 1961 when we became a "Republic" -- ie a load of rubbish.

What more could be expected from "journalists" that probably have no idea where Zimbabwe is anyway. -- they probably all voted for Mugabe. :mad:
 

Milano

Honorary Master
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Wish to thank the SA government, Mugabe only remains due to South African government support.
 

TELESPHORE

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Jul 23, 2006
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Mugabe is a Shona. Way way back a tribe under the leadership of Zilkaats invaded Rhodesia. Zilkaats was part of a Zulu Army that was afraid to return to the Shaka kingdom due to a failure. As he fled and also fled the advancing Boer civilization, he settled in Rhodesia and drove of the Shonas from the northen side of the Limpopo. Robert Mugabe is a Shona. Joshua Nkomo is a Matabele. In time Mugabe (as the Shonas are more than the Matabeles) drove out Joshua as part of the joint government. That is why he is not happy sharing with the MDC because history is repeating itself.
 

TELESPHORE

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During the war in Rhodesia, it was the Matabeles who were the good fighters. The Shonas were not good at this at all.
 

TJ99

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Apr 30, 2010
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When I see cr@p like this then I just ignore the rest

Rhodesia was SELF-GOVERNING -- long past the stage of a "colony"

Rhodesia was formally taken over by Britain as part of the Lancaster House agreements and UDI was then rescinded.

This was in order that the so called "free-&-fair" elections could take place under British stewardship.

Mark Canning -- BLOOD on your hands -- and egg on your face -- the British allowed Mugabe to come to power.

1980 was the year in which Rhodesia became Zimbabwe ( and the wheels fell off )

If Rhodesia was a British "colony" then SA was a British "colony" as well -- up until 1961 when we became a "Republic" -- ie a load of rubbish.

What more could be expected from "journalists" that probably have no idea where Zimbabwe is anyway. -- they probably all voted for Mugabe. :mad:

Great post, people often look past the bleeding obvious like this when it comes to South African history as well. And you get called all sorts of things for pointing it out. One of my favourite books, 1984, comes to mind.

But really, I LOL'd at the thread title, thought they meant actual viral videos as in memes. Imagine you're just chilling, laughing your ass off at Numa Numa guy or Single Ladies and the popo bust in and arrest you. Classic.
 

TELESPHORE

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869
Another snippert:
"Potchefstroom – the former Capital of the South African Republic. Founded in 1838 after the victory in the Nine Days Battle with the Ndebele. It was in this battle that ‘The Oxen Cavalry’ were used. The Boers were expecting a fresh attack from Mzilikazi’s Matabele, but it was a shock when it came. For thundering towards them through the bush came the Matabele secret weapon – cavalry charge of warriors mounted on oxen.

The oxen had been specially trained and their horns sharpened to rip the flanks of the Boer horses. Things were not going well for the Matabele and on the sixth day of the battle Mzilikazi made his last desperate bid for victory by sending in the oxen cavalry. There was a wild battle, but the clamour and smell of blood were too much for the oxen. They stampeded through the bush, goring and trampling their own masters.

For three days the Boers chased the Matabele army northwards beyond the Limpopo to what is today Matabeleland in Zimbabwe. I have not mentioned the part of the Koranna, since that is another story

Mzilikazi, and half of his followers, after having a rough time in Botswana (then Bechuanaland) joined up with the rest of his tribe in Matabeleland, now part of Zimbabwe. There he continued his raiding of neighbors including the Shona. This continued into the rein of Lobengula his son. Over one hundred years later they were to result in Gukurahundi the massacre of tens of thousand Nkome Ndebele supporters by Mugabi’s Shona 5th Brigade. Gukurahundi is a Shona word for the wind that blows away the chaff after harvest.

When Mugabi goes who knows what revenge may be taken!"
 

Alan

Honorary Master
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Sep 30, 2005
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Wow, aren't you glad that the ANC's policy of quiet diplomacy is doing all this great work for us?

Now Gary every progressive knows appeasement is the best policy. Would you prefer blunt diplomacy dubya style? :erm:
 
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