Friday, May 9, 2008

Zimbabwe: Free(d) Davison Maruziva

Yesterday, Zimbabwean police arrested independent editor Davison Maruziva for publishing an Op-Ed piece on April 20 by a prominent opposition politician. Also arrested were two trade union officials. Maruziva has been charged with publishing false statements and contempt of court.

As of yet, Maruziva’s newspaper, the Standard, has not ran an update on his legal situation.

In early February, I had the chance to interview Maruziva a few times during his trip to the United States to cover the U.S. primaries. I found him to be not only very friendly and talkative, but a very gifted thinker on politics in the United States and in Zimbabwe. My thoughts go out to him and his family.

Update: Here is part of piece Maruziva wrote about his time in prison before he was placed on bail. It's from the Zimbabwe Standard:

Eventually they were informed the "decision to detain me overnight had already been made".

Upon insistence they were told the instruction was from the Attorney-General’s office.

Chibebe, Matombo and I were taken to the holding cells. There, we met some of the finest and most professional of officers.

Then to the dungeons. At night we were herded into the cells. We had agreed — Chibebe, Matombo and I — that we would remain together and look after each other. The only form of lighting was in the stairway. The cells were pitch black; there was no water, certainly for the duration of my stay there and the cells were heavily infested with fleas and other creepy-crawlies.

We spent the night standing in order to minimise contact with the walls or the "beds". It is probably part of the humiliating punishment for suspects. But there is a health time bomb waiting to explode.

However, our worst fears were confirmed when the officers for the morning duty came to open our cells on Friday. Chibebe, Matombo and I were accused of mobilising other suspects into challenging the officers. As a warning, three other suspects were beaten. The use of excessive force was chilling. While I was granted bail on Friday, I fear for Chibebe and Matombo, because one of the four officers threatened them dire consequences.

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