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Zimbabwe Police Arrest 100 for Protesting Closure of Independent Paper - 2003-09-17


Zimbabwe police have arrested more than 100 people for participating in a demonstration against the closure of the country's only independent daily newspaper.

The police arrested the marchers outside the houses of parliament for taking part in the demonstration against last week's closure of the Daily News.

A spokesman for the organizers, Douglas Mwonzora, said that the march was also held to protest the general deterioration of the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe. The march was organized by the National Constitutional Assembly, a pressure group for constitutional reform.

Mr. Mwonzora said those arrested include the group's chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku, and three photo-journalists who work for private media.

The National Constitutional Assembly is a coalition of political parties, students, churches, and human-rights groups. It led the successful campaign against the government-sponsored draft constitution, which Zimbabweans rejected in February of 2000. For years, it has defied the strict laws that require police permission to demonstrate.

One of the arrested journalists told VOA by phone from the police station that although no charges had been filed against any of those arrested, the police told them they are being detained overnight.