Zimbabwe police break up rally, detain leaders

Monday, March 12, 2007

A picture of Harare, where the demonstration was held.

Zimbabwe police broke up a prayer rally protesting government policy on Sunday, arresting over 100 people, including the leader of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai. Zimbabwe police claimed that the prayer rally violated a government ban on political protests.

Riot police reinforcements cordoned off the area where the rally was to be held, and searched cars as they entered. As political leaders approached the area, they were reportedly pulled out of their cars and detained. Witnesses reported heavily armed military police forces surrounding the area of Highfields, the suburb where the rally was to be held.

Police fatally shot one person, after being reportedly attacked by a large mob of protesters. A spokesman for one of the men arrested claimed that a lawyer was beaten and chased away from the Machipisa police station in Highfields, where the arrested people were being held.

Opponents of President Robert Mugabe have blamed him for food shortages, repression of people's rights, and failing to control Zimbabwe's record inflation of over 1600%.

A spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the Secretary-General condemned the reported beating of the leaders, and that he urged their release.