Last night I was distressed by the videos of the Medical Students who were beaten up and arrested for expressing their concern for the tuition fees that had been increased by 30 % from $700 per semester. It was the manner in which the random and disproportionate use of force was applied to the group of young people who then began to disperse. These are healers in the making and I was hurt by the pain and the resolve in the voice of the lone speaker who urged his colleagues to stay and not to run away. “Uber STAND your ground” he bellowed. It made little difference.
|Displaced Medical Students
As Zimbabweans living in Diaspora we have the opportunity to stage demonstrations which are not disrupted by any agents of the civil service serving the interest of a government that is intolerant to constructive criticism. We are never forced to run away or disperse. At times police presence is actually given in order to ensure safety and order as proceedings take place. Of course permits are applied for in advance just as in Zimbabwe. The difference though is that the granting of the same in my country of birth is arbitrary and fraught with favour and hindrances. To be honest an unjust law is worth ignoring as often many plans are never realised. People in Zimbabwe are frustrated at every point when trying to air a grievance to its own government. Political parties will attest to their own experiences too and yet no event scheduled for and by the ruling party of ZANU PF’ is ever denied.
Human Rights in Zimbabwe are not observed adequately. Human Rights Activists grow intolerant of this repression and even more so now as it is clear that election campaigning in Zimbabwe is in full swing. We see all the events of and by ZANU PF unhindered. We remain gravely concerned about the absence of news from other political parties and interested parties with alternative viewpoints who cannot market their messages to potential voters and supporters and are prevented from doing so just like the Medical Students. A system so intricately woven and bubby- trapped is in place to prevent Freedom of Speech and Association.
Our resolve in Human Rights- Not for Profit organisations is to amplify these injustices. We will use conventional and unconventional methods because our task is like climbing a greasy pole. We will scale it even if it kills us. Over the next few weeks, it will be necessary to engage the minds of all those who will hear about every single right that is provided for in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
Being Zimbabwean and patriotic does not mean keeping quiet, or colluding with blatant injustices. Being Zimbabwean does not mean accepting the disruption of anyone’s education because of an unreasonable escalation of tuition fees.
Being Zimbabwean means being affected and moved enough to make enough noise about any injustice experienced or observed and expect a mature and reasonable response no matter where in the world one speaks from. Being truly Zimbabwean means accepting and appreciating the fact that we are one and this situation belongs to us. It is clearly getting worse not better.
The healers should not be persecuted. No one should be forced to sleep outside in the middle of a Zimbabwean winter because they have been evicted from their University. If I am distressed by this, please leave me be. I have a 17 year old son who could easily be one of them. He is strong- headed and were he in Zimbabwe, I could have done nothing to tear him away from such a protest.
Zimbabweans, our friends and our associates must and should continue to raise voices in defence of the citizens in our country who are being persecuted and unjustly treated. We all need to healers. We need our Medical students to return to their studies and make good our health system which is literally on life support.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This simplified version of the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been created especially for young people.
1. We Are All Born Free & Equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
2. Don’t Discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.
3. The Right to Life. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
4. No Slavery. Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.
5. No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.
6. You Have Rights No Matter Where You Go. I am a person just like you!
7. We’re All Equal Before the Law. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
8. Your Human Rights Are Protected by Law. We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
9. No Unfair Detainment. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.
10. The Right to Trial. If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
11. We’re Always Innocent Till Proven Guilty. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.
12. The Right to Privacy. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters, or bother us or our family without a good reason.
13. Freedom to Move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.
14. The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
15. Right to a Nationality. We all have the right to belong to a country.
16. Marriage and Family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.
17. The Right to Your Own Things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.
18. Freedom of Thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.
19. Freedom of Expression. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.
20. The Right to Public Assembly. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.
21. The Right to Democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.
22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.
23. Workers’ Rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.
24. The Right to Play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.
25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.
26. The Right to Education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. We should learn about the United Nations and how to get on with others. Our parents can choose what we learn.
27. Copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that art, science and learning bring.
28. A Fair and Free World. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.
29. Responsibility. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
30. No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights.
|Written by Grace Mupfurutsa