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Student Activists Arrested While Gathering In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Police in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, detained at least 21 students on Wednesday as they held a meeting at Hillside Teachers College, sources said.

Simbarashe Chivaura, a lawyer representing the students, said four of them remained in custody after they being handed over to the criminal investigation department of the Zimbabwe Republic Police's law and order section, though no charges were made.

Those arrested included Zimbabwe National Students Union Secretary General Beloved Chiweshe, along with student activists Tafadzwa Chengewa, Simbarashe Mkambo, Trust Nhubu and Cosmas Gwature.

ZINASU coordinator Washington Katema told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that students will keep pressure on Harare despite the arrests until the government resolves the national educational and economic crises.

In the eastern border city of Mutare, meanwhile, members of the activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise said they had successfully staged a march to publicize what the group calls its People's Charter, a social justice manifesto, with no arrests.

The group published an account of the march on its Web site, saying 30 women had marched 300 yards to Mutare's Civic Center then dispersed.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe spoke with attorney Otto Saki of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights - also involved in defending WOZA activists - who said the surge in protests reflects the feeling among political opponents and civic groups that backing down is no long an option for them.

Elsewhere, a lawyer for WOZA members and male associates arrested on Monday in the Midlands capital of Gweru, said police released eight people on $10,000 bail each after their arraignment in court. Attorney Hilary Garikai said the eight were charged with blocking the sidewalk in front of Gweru's main police station.

Lawyer Dumisani Hwacha, counsel for WOZA members arrested in Masvingo Tuesday, said 18 people were still being held on charges of joining an unlawful gathering.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...