(Updated March 19) Zimbabwe: Prisoners released on bail! International day of solidarity with political prisoners on March 21

Prisoners now released on bail! March 21 demonstrations remain urgent

March 18, 2011 -- Solidarity with Zimbabwean Political prisoners -- Thanks in part to donations from supporters abroad, friends and family raised the $12,000 US needed to get the six prisoners released on bail on March 17. They are now back with their loved ones -- but will be in court on March 21, standing trial for treason.

The international day of action in solidarity with the Zimbabwean activists remains as urgent as ever. Now the demand is even simpler: Drop all charges now!

Updates on Twitter from Shantha Bloeman -- wife of Munyaradzi Gwasai, one of the prisoners -- give supporters outside Zimbabwe a glimpse of this week's developments from the inside. A few entries:

Another call. ZANU-PF youth raided room of one of the released. [This refers to the 39 prisoners released earlier in the month.-sm] Trashed room and took his things. He is now in hiding.

Police took detained for investigations. Want passports to explore possible foreign connections. Not sure if this will help or hinder bail.

Too late to get bail paid today. But hopefully will secure funds early tomorrow so we can get them out. Just one more night in detention.

Bought lots of lice shampoo. How will we ever get them out of Munya's dreds? Will this mean a radical new hair cut and much arm twisting?

Big thank you to all for solidarity & support. We have enough for bail. So relieved. Hope they'll be out by end of the day.

Hopewell's wife just found out she is pregnant w second child. Tears of joy from all.

Workmates joke they should call child Treason. We propose Egypt.

(On Hopewell Gumbo, see Dave Zirin's reminiscence quoted here.)

There is reason to think that earlier solidarity demonstrations may have helped the prisoners get out. There are cases of Zimbabwean oppositionists in the MDC who have not released by the Mugabe regime even after they paid bail.

This underscores the need for broad, vigorous protests on March 21, when the six go to trial. Now more than ever, solidarity is a force for liberation.

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March 15, 2011 -- Free Them Now! -- Six people in Zimbabwe are now imprisoned on charges of treason for organising a meeting to discuss the mass movements in Tunisia and Egypt. For this “crime” they face a possible death sentence. They have been tortured and are now in solitary confinement. (For background to the arrests and solidarity campaign, click HERE.)

An international day of action to demand their release will be held on Monday, March 21, when they are scheduled for a court hearing.

Our message is simple and urgent: We demand that the government of Zimbabwe drop all charges and release them immediately.

Plans are underway for demonstrations in a number of countries. We urge concerned people everywhere to join us in organising meetings and demonstrations in solidarity with the prisoners. Please translate and distribute this appeal as widely as possible. Let us know know what you are doing at the contact addresses below.

The worldwide significance of the struggle to free the Zimbabwean prisoners is reflected in a recent statement of support from the Congress of South African Trade Unions. “The Egyptian and Tunisian experience have inspired many workers and poor people all over the world to stand up and demand an end to dictatorship, corruption and injustice of whatever kind.”

The arrest and prosecution of the six may seem like only the latest round of repression by Robert Mugabe’s government against opponents. But it is also an attack on the spirit of Tahrir Square, which has inspired people all over the world. The six prisoners include trade unionists, intellectuals, and activists in the struggle for women’s rights. The effort to suppress them – and even to kill them, whether by execution or through torture and denial of medical treatment while in custody – is a vicious assault on all of us.

To learn more about the six prisoners and the struggle for their release, see the website Free Them Now! (http://www.freethemnow.com/) and the Facebook group (open to non-Facebook users) Calling for the Release of Zimbabwean Activists (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_178601402184959).

To join the March 21 actions, please send a message to both of these addresses: zimtreasontrial@gmail.com and solidarity@freethemnow.com.

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Seis ciudadanos de Zimbabwe están en la cárcel por "el delito" de organizar una asamblea para platicar los movimientos revolucionarios de Egipto y Tunez. El gobierno de Zimbabwe habla de que esa actividad es traición y el castigo por esta traición es la pena de muerte. Los seis están en manos de represores y están en condiciones de aislamiento en la cárcel.

El lunes, 21 de Marzo, sera un día de acción internacional para demandar la libertad de los seis. Es la misma fecha que ellos estarán en frente de la tribunal de justicia.

Nuestra mensaje al gobierno de Zimbabwe es breve y urgente: demandamos la libertad imediata de los seis compañeros! 

Van haber manifestaciones en varias naciones y solicitamos a todos los luchadores de justicia a colaborar con nosotros para organizar asambleas y mitines en solidaridad con los presos políticos. Por favor, traducen y distribuyen estas palabras. Comunicase con nosotros por la dirección que se encuentra al fin de este mensaje. 

La importancia mundial de los presos Zimbabweanos es obvio en una carta de apoyo del Congreso de Gremios Obreros del Sudafrica: "La experiencia de los pueblos de Egipto y Tunez es una inspiración a muchos obreros y personas pobres en todo al mundo a demandar un fin de dictadores, corrupción, y injusticia!"

Es posible que la persecución de los seis parece ser solo la ultima acción del gobierno del Robert Mugabe contra sus adversarios políticos pero de hecho forma parte de una guerra en contra del espíritu de Plaza Tahrir, que ha sido una inspiración a todo la gente del mundo. Los seis presos son miembros de gremios obreros, intelectuales, y activistas por derechos mujeres. Las acciones del gobierno de Zimbabwe constituyen un asalto a todos nosotros. 

Para mas información sobre los presos y la lucha por su libertad, visita el websitio "Free Them Now!" [http://www.freethemnow.com] y la pagina de Facebook "Calling for the Release of the Zimbabwean Activists" [http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_178601402184959]

Y para participar en las acciones del 21 de marzo, escriben a ambos zimtreasontrial@gmail.com y solidarity@freethemnow.com