A demonstration in Zimbabwe was brought to a screeching halt when riot police entered the scene, armed with tear gas and batons Friday to enforce a ban on protests.
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Africa Unity Square in Harare was filled with concerned Zimbabweans, protesting the ban and the current economic situation under the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration. They chanted songs of police brutality as officers took aim and fired water cannons. Officers cornered a group of protesters and beat them, sending one woman to the hospital in a Red Cross ambulance. Eighty others were arrested, said Nelson Chamisa, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party.
"This is worse than during colonial times," a man who wished to remain anonymous told AFP news.
"We aren't armed but the police just beat us while we were sitting on the street," he said.
Zimbabwean court officials ruled to ban the demonstrations earlier this week, despite various appeals from the public and members of the opposition.
Party Vice President Tendai Biti said, "The fascist regime has denied the right for Zimbabweans to demonstrate."
Still this hasn’t quelled their determination, the opposition said, confirming further protests set to take place next week around the country.
“There is not going to be any rest until we achieve a people’s government...we will continue to mobilize,” Chamisa said.
Zimbabwe’s growing tension is driven by the growing inflation — which currently stands at 175 percent, daily 19-hour power outs, economic and political reforms and shortages of food and water.
Spokesman for the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, said Friday, “With opposition demonstrations still likely to take place in Zimbabwe in the near future, we urge the government to find ways to continuously engage with the population about their legitimate grievances on the economic situation, and to stop cracking down on peaceful protesters."
The U.N. commissioner added: “We are deeply concerned by the socio-economic crisis that continues to unfold in Zimbabwe. The dire economic situation is now impacting negatively on the realization of the economic and social rights of millions of Zimbabweans,” Colville said.