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Activists detained over illegal assembly

(MISA/IFEX) - 10 February 2012 - Sixteen human rights activists led by the Legal and Human Rights Centre Director, Dr. Hellen Kijo Bisimba, and the Tanzania Women Journalists Association Director, Ananilea Nkya, were on 9 February 2012 detained in Dar es Salaam for allegations of illegal assembly and breach of peace.

According to the Police Commander, Kinondoni Special Zone, Charles Kenyela, the activists were detained following security intelligence reports indicating that they were heading for an illegal assembly at the Muhimbili National Hospital while carrying banners with messages intended to disrupt the peace. He said this is a criminal offense and police would not let that happen.

Speaking to journalists after they were released on bail, Nkya said that what the police did constituted human rights abuse. According to her, they were in their car heading for the hospital to see whether what they asked the government to do during their demonstration the day before was being implemented.

The activists organised a city-wide demonstration on 8 February to pressure the government to respond to the doctors' demands and end a nation-wide strike that has brought medical services in major hospitals to a near complete halt for several weeks. The government gave in to the doctors' demands and services were expected to resume today.

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