AASU welcomes dismissal of charges against 6 Zimbabwe students

Mekelle:  9 April 2024 (Tigray Herald)

AASU welcomes dismissal of charges against 6 Zimbabwe students – Benjamin Watadza, Emmanuel Sitima, Comfort Mpofu, Lionel Madamombe, Gamuchirai Chaburumunda & Darlington Chigwena – arrested after peaceful protest in Harare.



All-Africa Students Union (AASU) received welcome news as chargesagainst six University of Zimbabwe (UZ) students, Benjamin Watadza, Emmanuel Sitima,Comfort Mpofu, Lionel Madamombe, Gamuchirai Chaburumunda, and Darlington Chigwena,were dropped by the state. These students had been arrested in May last year following apeaceful protest in Harare.

This development follows AASU’s previous condemnation of the arbitrary arrests of itscomrades, including Emmanuel Sitimah, Benjamin Watadza, Comfort Mpofu, and LionelMadamombe, leaders of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU). In its earlierstatement, AASU denounced the Zimbabwean government’s use of repressive methodsagainst student activists and its disregard for human rights in the country. The Union calledfor the immediate release of the detained students and urged the government to respect therights and freedoms of students.

The release of these students comes as a relief and a victory for justice and the protection ofstudents’ rights. Their detention and the charges against them were a stark reminder of thechallenges students face when exercising their fundamental freedoms of expression andpeaceful assembly. The All-Africa Students Union commends the decisiondrop chargesagainst the University of Zimbabwe students and welcomes their release. This developmentrepresents a positive step towards upholding the rights of students in Zimbabwe and sends aclear message that peaceful activism should not be met with punitive measures.

However, while we celebrate the release of these students, we must not forget the broadercontext of suppression of dissent and attacks on students’ rights in Zimbabwe. The right tofreedom of expression and peaceful assembly mustprotected and respected at all times,without fear of reprisal or intimidation.

The All-Africa Students Union calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure that all studentscan freely exercise their rights without facing harassment, intimidation, or arbitrary arrest.We urge the government to createenabling environment for dialogue and constructiveengagement, where students’ voices are heard and respected.

In solidarity with the released students and the broader student community in Zimbabwe, theAll-Africa Students Union reaffirms its commitment to defending the rights and welfare ofstudents across Africa. We stand ready to support students in their pursuit of justice, equality,and academic freedom.

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