More than 40 people attended a rally in Fremantle on March 21 in support of Zimbabwean political activists who have been charged with treason.
The rally was held to coincide with the court hearing in Harare for activists Munyaradzi Gwisai, Tafadzwa Choto, Hopewell Gumbo, Welcome Zimuto, Tatenda Mombeyara and Edson Chakuma.
Independent MP for Fremantle Adele Carles told the crowd: “These brave men and women are charged with treason and face the death penalty.
“While it is frustrating that we are so far away and it is difficult to influence these events directly, it is important that we speak out and shine the international spotlight on these human rights outrages.”
Carles said she had written to Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Australia to strongly express her disappointment at the abuse of legal process and calling for the release of the prisoners.
She called on all those present to sign the online petition, “Free the Zimbabwe Political Prisoners”, available at gopetition.com/petition/43806.html.
Zimbabwe Information Centre WA (ZICWA) coordinator Paul Kaplan called on the Australian government to maintain targeted sanctions against key leaders of the Robert Mugabe regime. He also outlined Zimbabwe’s modern history and the evolution of Mugabe from a respected liberation leader to a corrupt tyrant.
Fremantle city councillor for the Socialist Alliance Sam Wainwright told the crowd that an example of Mugabe’s misleadership was when he accepted the austerity dictates of the International Monetary Fund.
He said people in rich countries like Australia should demand Zimbabwe’s national debt be annulled.
Wainwright also reminded the crowd that Australia had once offered free university education to people from poor Commonwealth countries, but now overseas students are exploited as cash-cows by universities. He called on the Australian government to reverse this policy.
Zimbabwean exile Toby, from the ZICWA, thanked the crowd for their support and pointed out that most black Zimbabweans in Perth felt too afraid to attend the rally, fearing repercussions for relatives at home.