The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) has condemned the arrest Friday and detention of 15 female students, who were among students that demonstrated in Harare calling on the authorities to seriously look into their grievances, including high fees.
In total 21 students were arrested.
The students told VOA they were surprised by the police action, especially when they had notified them of the intention to take to the streets over a week ago.
When they arrived for the demonstration there was no police escort, only to be intercepted by riot police along Nelson Mandela between First Street and Second Street.
The students are now calling on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Professor Jonathan Moyo to resign.
“We wanted to petition Parliament over the high tuition fees, which we cannot afford, and the general bad state of the education system, including lack of accommodation,” said ZINASU president, Gilbert Mutubuki, said.
“As students, we were also calling upon the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Jonathan Moyo to resign because he is not paying attention to these challenges, but is enmeshed in the succession battle in the ruling party Zanu-Pf. His pre-occupation with these issues, at the expense of student issues is evident on Twitter.”
Among the arrested is Zinasu Gender Secretary, Joanna Mamombe, and the assaulted students include a disabled female student from Bulawayo Polytechnic College.
“Once again the police exhibited an unwarranted heavy-handedness and thwarting constitutionally guaranteed rights to demonstrate and petition, assaulting and injuring several of the students,” the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) said in a statement.
The rights group said section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is clear that people have the right to demonstrate, and petition as long as that is done peacefully, ‘making such police use of undue force wayward, unconstitutional and needless.’
“It is disturbing that the police has always been happy to end peaceful demonstrations with brute force, while flagrantly trampling on people’s fundamental human rights in the process,” the statement read.
“ZimRights calls upon the police to be on the frontline of defending the constitution, and not defeating it.”
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) must investigate this latest incident, which piles on the worrying record of the police and the government, where human rights are concerned, said ZimRights.