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EU ‘economical with truth’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 25th February 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 01 April 2012 15:52

The Vigil is expressing to the European Parliament its reservations about the easing of sanctions against Mugabe’s cronies. We sent the following email to Geoffrey Van Orden, Member of the European Parliament for the East of England: 

“Thanks for your email about the easing of the EU’s targeted Zimbabwean measures (http://www.geoffreyvanorden.com/index.php/news/detail/keeping_the_pressure_on_mugabe1 – Mr Van Orden’s Press Release). The Vigil is appreciative of your consistent work for Zimbabwe and shares your relief that the sanctions have been largely kept in place. But we are puzzled by remarks by the EU’s Foreign Affairs representative, Baroness Ashton.

She said in a press release of 17th February that the EU ‘welcomes progress made towards the creation of a conducive environment for the holding of free, fair, peaceful and transparent elections’ . . . she went on to speak of ‘progress in the implementation of the GPA’ and further commented ‘the overall situation in Zimbabwe has improved’ (see: Declaration by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the European Union on Zimbabwe – http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/128029.pdf).

It is now three years since the Government of National Unity was formed. As far as the Vigil can see there was some early progress – difficult and slow – but there has been none at all in the past year. In fact, there is strong evidence that the situation has deteriorated in the year that Baroness Ashton is speaking of. This is borne out by the following recent stories (among others): (http://www1.zimbabwesituation.com/feb24_2012.html#Z9 – Zanu PF Strong-arm Citizens to attend its Rallies: ZESN, http://www.swradioafrica.com/2012/02/24/bitter-tsvangirai-castigates-insincere-mugabe – ‘Bitter’ Tsvangirai castigates insincere Mugabe). Also the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum states in their latest email: ‘Zimbabwe is mentioned in the Annual Report of Frontline Defenders, as being amongst a number of countries that have witnessed an increase in attacks on human rights defenders (HRDs) in their homes or offices and intimidation of HRDs by the judicial authorities.’

We would be grateful if you could use your position in the European Parliament to ask Baroness Ashton where she gets her contrary information from because we would like to share this good news. But our suspicion is that she is merely ill-informed or is driven by another agenda.

One further observation: the Vigil believes the easing of the targeted measures will not lead to any progress in Zimbabwe – witness the dismissive reaction there to the recent announcement (http://www1.zimbabwesituation.com/feb20a_2012.html#Z6 – Zanu PF dismisses sanctions ‘easing’). We believe that even the total lifting of the measures would not persuade Zanu PF to allow free and fair elections. They would simply invent some other excuse for clinging to power.”

 

Other Points
·         The Vigil was joined by the daughter of Thembie Rebecca Simelane, our Swazi friend who visited us last week. Since then Thembie has been detained and served with a deportation order for Monday evening, 27th February. See http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/371-thembie-simelane-campaign for details of our campaign to have her deportation stopped.  Thembie’s daughter came with three other Swazi ladies (Jabulile Simelane, Flora Dlamini and Margaret Dlamini) after the Swazi Vigil outside the Swaziland High Commission.  They report that there was considerable support from passers-by for their petition demanding democracy and an end to human rights abuses in Swaziland. They plan to hold their Vigil every two weeks. For details of the next protest see ‘Events and Notices’.
·         Following the lifting of the moratorium on sending back failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers we are getting more reports of people being given orders to leave. Shamiso Kofi, a Vigil supporter, whose deportation was stopped at the last minute in October last year, joined us today.  She is still limping from an injury sustained from what she said was the brutal treatment of UK Border Agency security guards. With her was Gladys Mabvira who was released on 14th February after 6 months detention and is still fighting deportation. We are still waiting to hear whether our supporter David Moyo will be sent home on 1st March.
·         The lovely sunshine made us hope winter had come to an end. We felt like we were in the middle of a film set as we were packed between big vans for a movie being made nearby.
·         A reminder that our second Zimbabwe Action Forum takes place after the Vigil next week (6.30 pm on 3rd March). Everyone who wants to join the fight for Zimbabwe’s freedom is welcome.  For details see ‘Events and Notices’.
·         Several Vigil supporters attended a showing of the new film ‘Robert Mugabe – What happened?’ It was followed by a discussion with the director Simon Bright and a panel including Josephine Zhuga of the Vigil management team. The film was well-received.
·         Thanks to Magret Gotora who has been coming at the start of the Vigil to help set up, helping at the front table throughout and clearing up at the end.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.

FOR THE RECORD: 73 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:
·        
Solidarity protest with Zimbabwean treason trial socialists. Friday 2nd March at 7pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. This is organized by the International Socialist Organisation. For more information phone 07796 690 874.
·         Zimbabwe Action Forum. Saturday 3rd March from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent.  Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
·         Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 10th March from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.  Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria. 
·         ROHR North East general meeting. Saturday 10th March from 12 noon – 3 pm. Venue: Gateshead Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE8 1HH. 3 mins walk from Gateshead Interchange and Metro station before Police Station. Free parking available. For directions please contact Hazvineyi Choto 07424524910, Susan Ndlovu 07838872435 or Tapiwa Merrymore Semwayo 07722060246.
·         Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/363-vigil-highlights-2011.  Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2011 Highlights page.
·         The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.
·         ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News. 
·         The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit: www.imusicafrica.com and to watch the video check: http://ourvigil.notlong.com. To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: http://Shungurudza.notlong.com and http://blooddiamonds.notlong.com.
·         Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.
·         Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil. 

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