Zimbabwe Police Raids Bulawayo Art Gallery

Maseko a solo-artist had organized a two day event to exhibit pictures of the Gukurahundi massacres. The exhibition which kicked off on Thursday at the Bulawayo Art gallery showcased pictures of the victims, relatives and those of the disused mines where bodies of the victims were dumped by Five Brigade soldiers.

Maseko’s lawyer Kucaca Phulu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said a group of armed police raided the Bulawayo Art Gallery along Main Street early morning, soon after opening and confiscated pictures before arresting his client.

“Police in riot gear arrived early in the morning at the gallery and told everybody present to disperse before they confiscated exhibition pictures and arrested Maseko”.

“He is still detained at Bulawayo Central police station and will go to court on Monday, but we are still trying to make an urgent High Court application for his release before that day and also for police to return the pictures,” said Phulu.

Phulu said this shows that “there is still no rule of law and no freedom expression in the country even after the formation of the inclusive government. Zanu PF is still sending police to terrorize citizens”.

The raid of Bulawayo Art Gallery and arrest of Maseko came just 24 hours after truckloads of police swooped down on Harare Art gallery and removed the pictures displayed by the Zimbabwe Human Rights (ZimRights).

The exhibition was part of a growing campaign by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and human rights activists to publicize a history of violence against the MDC over the last decade.

In 1982, President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF in pursuit of a one party state sought help from North Korea to train the infamous Five Brigade soldiers. The brigade was deployed in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions in an operation code named Gukurahundi.

For about five years, the Five Brigade massacred innocent civilians using the propaganda excuse that there had been insurgency in the Zapu strongholds. Innocent civilians estimated at up to 20 000 were killed while thousands disappeared. They were buried in mass graves while some thrown in disused mines.

The move was designed to force Mugabe and his cohorts to acknowledge hundreds of murders and thousands of cases of torture, arson and looting of MDC supporters, ending the immunity the perpetrators have enjoyed.

Lawyers say only a handful of perpetrators of those crimes have been prosecuted, despite researchers having compiled detailed reports of thousands of incidents, and handing them to authorities. The MDC is demanding a truth and reconciliation commission, but Mugabe insists that bygones are bygones.