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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Zimbabwe protests diary
Students throwing stones at the police
Students threw stones to keep police at bay (Pic: Zvakwana)
A student activist with Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change writes a diary for BBC News Online of the week-long protests intended to drive President Robert Mugabe out of power.

Friday 6 June

1215: We have just heard that two students were taken by the army on Monday, beaten up and dumped at Harare International Airport.

They were told to get the next plane to Britain or the USA. One of the students had his hand fractured and it is now in plaster, the other one has a malfunctioning ear and has back injuries due to continued stamping of boots on his back.

We have also been told that Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MPs who were interrogated by the Military Intelligence and CIO (secret police) were shown a list of student union leaders and MDC student activists who are being hunted down by the army, police and militias.

0900: Activities are almost at a standstill on campus.

State intelligence has been tracking down union activists and leaders forcing them underground or to flee outside campus,

Thursday 5 June

1800: The Dean of Students has been approached by the Students Council to release information on injured, harassed or even killed students, the Dean is playing a silence game as he fears the state operatives.

Also students from the Law School have been collecting affidavits from brutalised students and those whose rooms were looted by soldiers and the paramilitary.

This is for possible civil suit against the Home Affairs Minister and the Defence Minister.

For the past two days, two army helicopters have continued their surveillance of the campus at two-three hour intervals - especially early in the morning and late at night to intimidate the students.

Wednesday 4 June

1400: Some students are returning to check what is happening on campus - there is very little activity.

The students union leadership and activist committees are to hold review meetings today and agree on the course to take tomorrow.

No lectures are taking place and vehicle and public movement is limited in the campus.

The authorities are still denying or withholding information if there is anyone who had died. 1100: The situation remains calm with whistle-blowing over the campus.

There are no lectures.

The police, CIO and military intelligence officials have been interrogating students about a list of hunted activists.

Tuesday 3 June

There is a heavy presence of plainclothes police and intelligence officers.

Students hit by tear gas
The police responded with tear gas

Hundreds of students, especially women, have vacated university going home.

Thousands of students mill around campus blowing whistles.

There are no lectures the whole day.

Monday 2 June

1800: Student union leaders inform us that more than 40 students have been admitted at Parirenyatwa hospital.

One is in the intensive care unit, activists report that three students are feared dead.

Eight million need food aid
Shortages of petrol, bread, sugar
Inflation over 200%
Opposition complains of persecution
They reject last year's elections

Police, hospital officials and university authorities deny any knowledge about that.

1300 until evening: Police fire tear gas canisters straight into halls of residences to flush out students and then beat them up.

1215: Police increase reinforcements, they bring in two water cannon to disrupt another student gathering.

Armed soldiers fire live ammunition into the air.

Soldiers backed by police, CIO and local security begin door-to-door searches for known MDC activists and student leaders.

1200: An army helicopter flies overhead, sending students into panic and running in different directions.

Students called again to regroup, there are 120 student marshals who are controlling the students and telling them how to march.

We need an opposition that is sensitive to the needs of the people
Tapiwa, Zimbabwe

1100-1200: Students march and are blocked by police who start firing tear gas canisters, blank shots, stun grenades and live ammunition into the air.

Students manage to overcome the police, who call for reinforcements.

0930-1030: Up to 9,000 students gather outside the Students' Union buildings, singing and blowing whistles.

Student leaders and ex-student leaders address the students who unanimously vote to participate in the march to State House (President Mugabe's residence).

Students then agree to start the march towards town, heading to meet others on their way to State House.

The union votes to suspend all lectures for the whole week.

0800: Students begin toyi-toying (militaristic jogging on the spot while chanting) and singing anti-Mugabe songs.

The students' council had notified students of a general meeting to decide how students were going to contribute in the action for national survival.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"The stayaway will continue until the end of the week"

Harare journalist Leroy McKenzie on Focus on Africa
"It is clear people have chosen to go on a complete stayaway"


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