The Embassy of Canada to Zimbabwe on Friday called for calm and peaceful dialogue after a protest by opposition parties turned violent.
“The Embassy of Canada to Zimbabwe is increasingly concerned with reports of violence and human rights violations in response to public protest. The Embassy of Canada calls for calm and stresses the importance of peaceful dialogue,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The Embassy of Canada reiterates its call on all stakeholders to respect the Constitution of Zimbabwe, in particular, the freedom to peacefully demonstrate, the right to personal liberty, the right to personal security and the rights of arrested and detained persons.”
On Friday, Zimbabwean police fired teargas into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators in Harare 20 minutes after the Harare High Court declared the demonstration legal.
The court ordered the police to allow members of a coalition of opposition parties to march from Freedom Square in the city centre along a specified route to present a petition to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) at its offices, between noon and 4 pm.
But police ignored the court order and fired teargas into the crowd on Freedom Square, dispersing the demonstration of about 300 before it really got going. About 200 demonstrators later returned.
The streets around the square were littered with stones, rocks and small burning objects. Before they were dispersed, a small group of opposition supporters were singing liberation war songs, including “Hondo (war) Mugabe must go”.
About 200 riot police, some armed with AK 47’s, swarmed over the field between the Rainbow Towers Hotel and the Harare show grounds from 9 am.
The Embassy of Canada called on the Zimbabwean government to make every effort to ensure that public policing and justice is consistent with the government’s constitutional obligation to respect basic human rights and freedoms.
– African News Agency (ANA)