London vigil for Zimbabwe right marks fifth anniversary of protest

By staff writers
October 12, 2007

One of the largest demonstrations ever held by Zimbabwean exiles will take place in London on Saturday 13 October 2007 outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in the Strand - marking five years of protest against human rights abuses by the Mugabe regime.

The protest is scheduled from 14:00 - 18:00. Christian groups, including clergy, monks, nuns and Catholic justice and peace groups will join the Zimbabweans on the demonstration, which has been held outside the embassy every Saturday since October 2002.

In addition to human rights, its other focus has been to campaign for free and fair elections in the country.

Britain's capital has been a site of demonstrations on issues of global concern for many years, including a long standing apartheid-era picket of the South African embasssy in Trafalgar Square.

Zimbabwe's largest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has called on all its members in the UK to attend Saturday's vigil.

The demonstration will also be supported by Kate Hoey MP, who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe.

At around 15:00 hrs Ms Hoey will be presented with a petition to hand to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It is directed also at European Union governments and heads of state.

It reads: "We record our dismay at the failure of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help the desperate people of Zimbabwe at their time of trial. We urge the UK government, and the European Union in general, to suspend government to government aid to all 14 SADC countries until they abide by their joint commitment to uphold human rights in the region. The petition has been signed by thousands of people passing by the Vigil.

"To mark our Fifth Anniversary we are submitting this petition to all EU and SADC governments. The Vigil wants to make it clear that we are not asking for a halt to humanitarian aid, but we would like to see government to government assistance to the SADC countries halted until they honour their human rights obligations to Zimbabwe. We suggest that the money should go instead to the suffering people of Zimbabwe."

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