The International Federation of Journalists today called for the European Union to "stop talking tough and take action now" after the arrest yesterday of Zimbabwean journalists' leader Basildon Peta.
"This action follows the pattern of a blatant attempt to steal the coming election requires resolution and firmness as well as diplomacy," said Christopher Warren President of the IFJ. "The European Union must isolate Zimbabwe and make it clear that observers on the ground are not enough - the people of Zimbabwe must be allowed to think and speak for themselves without intimidation and threats of imprisonment."
Basildon Peta, who works for the Independent Newspaper, is the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, an affiliate of the IFJ. He was arrested for not asking permission to organise a protest demonstration on Wednesday of last week. If convicted he could be jailed for up to three years under new draconian legislation just adopted.
"For the past year the crisis in Zimbabwe has intensified to the point where democracy is all but extinguished and the rule of bad and perverse law is in place," said Warren. The IFJ is calling for strong protests by all of its affiliates in 105 countries over the arrest of Basildon Peta.
"This latest action is a violation of the rights of journalist's everywhere," said Warren. "We shall make sure that our protests are heard loudly in every corner of the political world. This action must not be allowed to stand."
Gustl Glattfelder, the Chairman of the IFJ's European Federation of Journalists said that the victimisation of Basildon Peta brought the Zimbabwe crisis into the mainstream of business in Brussels. "We cannot walk away from this confrontation and we urge the European Union to show leadership to the international community in its response."