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Zimbabwe activists sentenced for watching Arab Spring video

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“We are not deterred, we are not intimidated,” he told reporteres. “To the ordinary people, this is not surprising. This is a staple of what is happening in Africa and across the world. So we take it as it comes, the struggle continues.”

Human Rights Watch called for all charges to be dropped against the activists.

“In the Middle East people get arrested for taking part in peaceful protests, but in Zimbabwe they get sent to prison just for watching them on video,” says Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should immediately set these outrageous convictions aside and exonerate all six.”

The six opposition activists -- convicted of  “conspiracy to incite public violence with a view to overthrowing the unity government" -- included the national coordinator of International Socialist Organization Munyaradzi Gwisai along with other rights activists Antoinette Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo, and Welcome Zimuto.

The six say they were tortured in custody. Eight students who celebrated the relatively light sentencing outside the magistrates courts were arrested, while journalist Columbus Mavhunga was briefly arrested but later released for taking pictures on Wednesday amid heavy police presence.

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