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Zimbabwe2 October 2007

Police arrest two actors and a journalist during performance of satirical play

Reporters Without Borders today accused the Zimbabwean authorities of escalating repression after they arrested two actors and a journalist on the evening of 28 September during the performance of a satirical play about the country’s political situation.

“With the privately-owned press already under permanent threat, the police are now targeting the theatre,” the press freedom organisation said. “This case is a spectacular illustration of the government’s despotic behaviour. Rather than sending police officers to arrests journalists and actors, President Robert Mugabe would do better to listen to what they have to say and take account of their demands.”

Plain-clothes police stormed the wings of the Theatre in the Park during an intermission in a performance of The Final Push by playwright Daniel Maphosa, and led actors Sylvanos Mudzvova and Anthony Tongani away to a truck. James Jemwa, an independent journalist who was filming the performance, was also arrested when he asked the police to explain why the actors were being detained.

The Final Push makes fun of Zimbabwe’s eight-year-old political crisis. Its title refers to protest marches organised by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 2003, which were violently dispersed by the police.

Jemwa and the two actors are being held at Harare police headquarters. They have not been charged and they have not been allowed to contact a lawyer.

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