ARTUZ condemns the abduction, torture and persecution of teachers

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) condemns the brazen abduction of four teachers (namely Robson Chere, Jess Drury, Precious Ndlovu and Munyaradzi Ndawana) who were abducted from a meeting being held in Greystone Park, Harare and their subsequent torture and ill-treatment by state security agents during interrogation.

The teachers were abducted in Greystone Park, Harare at 10:45 on Saturday 27 April 2019 by about ten state security agents in plainclothes who illegally forced their way into a private property without a search warrant and forced the four teachers into two unmarked vehicles and gathered up all workshop materials which were placed in a third vehicle (white Toyota Rav 4 reg number ADL 7066). The abductors are suspected to be from the Central Intelligence Organisation or the Military Intelligence.

The teachers were interrogated for more than four hours without being given access to their lawyers or being informed of their right to remain silent. Their lawyers were lied to by state security agents about their whereabouts. During their interrogation, Robson Chere and Munyaradzi Ndawana were physically assaulted and psychological manipulation was used against Jess Drury and Precious Ndlovu. This conduct by the state security agents violates section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states that “No person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

After their abduction had been widely publicized, the teachers were subsequently handed over to ZRP Law and Order and were charged with section 37 of the Criminal Code (Participating in gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry). ARTUZ condemns this absurd charge and has no basis in fact. The meeting in question was about educational techniques and pedagogical approaches developed by educators such as Paulo Freire and had an explicit emphasis on the need for peaceful resolution of conflict and nonviolence.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe protects the right to freedom of expression which includes the right to seek, receive and communicate ideas (section 61) and the right to participate collectively or individually in gatherings or groups or in any other manner, in peaceful activities to influence, challenge or support the policies of the Government or any other cause (section 67).

Meanwhile, lawyer and ARTUZ Board member, Doug Coltart, was called to report to Harare Central and was charged with the same spurious charges as the four teachers. The police continue to hold his laptop which was illegally taken without a warrant for search and seizure.

Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)

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