Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

25 May 2012

Activist: ‘Zimbabwe government increases repression following Arab Spring’

Activist: ‘Zimbabwe government increases repression following Arab Spring’
Jenni Williams is executive director and founding member of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)

Jenni Williams is executive director and founding member of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)

© Amnesty International


Suddenly the world – as well as the last dictators standing – looks at peaceful protest with a different lens. Things have been tougher for us this last year – personally I’ve been arrested twice, and fixed with fabricated charges of kidnapping and theft
Source: 
Jenni Williams, leader of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
Date: 
Fri, 25/05/2012

Hope that the wave of popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa would spread south and translate into widespread social reforms was quashed over the last year with the brutal suppression of demonstrations across sub-Saharan Africa.

Jenni Williams, executive director and founding member of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) says in her country there is no doubt that events in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Syria have in fact meant harsher crackdowns on protests

“It's been a very hard year that began in February 2011,” she says.

“We’ve always faced opposition to our work from the authorities – but the repression increased with the brave, wonderful work done in the Arab Spring.

“Suddenly the world – as well as the last dictators standing – looks at peaceful protest with a different lens. Things have been tougher for us this last year – personally I’ve been arrested twice, and fixed with fabricated charges of kidnapping and theft”, she told Amnesty International.

WOZA is a social justice movement with a membership of around 80,000, which provides a platform to encourage women to speak out about issues that affect their everyday lives in Zimbabwe. Since its first protests in 2003 members of WOZA have been repeatedly intimidated, detained and ill-treated because of their activism.

“Suddenly the police have a variety of strategies to stop us gathering peacefully as we have been doing for the last 10 years. Robert Mugabe’s regime clearly wants to prevent a Zimbabwean spring,” says Jenni Williams.

In February 2011, 45 social justice, trade union and human rights activists were arrested and charged with treason merely for holding a meeting discussing the implications of protests in Egypt and Tunisia.

Jenni Williams has been arrested 43 times, has spent time in prison on several occasions, and says she expects to be jailed again next year when Zimbabweans go to the polls. She is constantly forced to present herself at court as her case is still pending. Yet she has no plans to stop her activism.

“I don’t regret a single moment. I celebrate the work that I do and the people I work with have the same spirit. We are in it together and together we are going to build a new democracy.

“That ‘livingness’ that you do as an activist- expressing yourself, makes up for so many of other moments when you are marginalized and shut up.”

Issue

Activists 
Detention 
Freedom Of Expression 
Law Enforcement 
Women 

Country

Zimbabwe 

Region

Africa 

Campaigns

Stop Violence Against Women 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

22 July 2014

The Gambian government must abolish the laws and iron fisted practices that have resulted in two decades of widespread human rights violations, Amnesty International said as it... Read more »

24 July 2014

The prolonged execution of a prisoner in Arizona yesterday represents another wake-up call for authorities in the USA to abolish the death penalty, said Amnesty International... Read more »

22 July 2014

Indonesia’s new President Joko Widodo must deliver on campaign promises to improve Indonesia’s dire human rights situation, Amnesty International said.

Read more »
24 July 2014

Poland is the first European Union member state to be found complicit in the USA’s rendition, secret detention, and torture of alleged terrorism suspects, Amnesty International... Read more »

21 July 2014

Ahead of a legal intervention by Amnesty International and others in the rendition case of the Libyan national Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, Amnesty International... Read more »