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Jenni Williams
Image: DW/V. Engels

Big business has become "a louder voice than human rights" in Zimbabwe

Berthold Stevens / df
July 3, 2014

Speaking at the DW Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany, human rights activist Jenni Williams strongly criticized the international community's watered down diplomacy toward the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.


Big business has caused "a diplomatic shift" in Zimbabwe at the expense of human rights, says Jenni Williams, co-founder of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), an organization committed to promoting civic participation in African countries. "I just want to be able to have my kids have jobs and I want to be able to afford their schooling."

Williams took part in a discussion about the impact of the Arab revolutions on human rights movements in Africa. "People assume that people on the ground know what the Arab Spring is," she said. In her country, however, "many people don't know what happened in Egypt and Tunisia because the news is blocked." People don't have access to the information due to limitations on press freedom and slow Internet connections, she said. Three years ago, Williams was detained along with around 50 other activists after watching a film about the Arab Spring.

"Protests are not called by social network media, as some people want to portray," says Williams. "Protests are called by … knocking on people's doors, talking to them, engaging them, understanding their issues and getting collective understanding of people power and the right to protest and how it can be exercised," even if it means risking her life. That's why Williams has remained a persistent activist in Zimbabwe, despite having been detained more than 50 times.

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