Activist tells of raids, beatings and death threats

Duran Rapozo, 28, will be demonstrating at Lord's - with good reason. He has been arrested at least six times, beaten on several occasions and threatened with death.

His activities as a prominent human rights campaigner in Zimbabwe have led to his home being raided twice and all his documents and papers being seized.

By the time he fled Zimbabwe in July 1999, he had a cracked bone in his leg from a beating with a baton during one of his interrogations. It needed an operation but he was too scared to have one in a Zimbabwean hospital. He feared being identified and injected with slow-acting poisons by members of Robert Mugabe's Central Intelligence Organisation.

Mr Rapozo, now a student in Britain, will bring 100 other protesters from Manchester to Lord's tomorrow. "I feel that this tour should not have gone ahead," he said. "We need the international community to assist the people of Zimbabwe."

Mr Rapozo, an organiser for the Movement for Democratic Change in the UK, was one of the youngest people to be voted on to a senior position of the Zimbabwean Human Rights Association (ZimRights). As an organiser of protests, he became a marked man. He was arrested after a student demonstration in 1996 and held for 48 hours before he was bailed.

He was later approached by a member of the secret intelligence service who threatened to shoot him. With the help of passers-by he disarmed the man and handed the weapon to police. His would-be assassin has never been arrested.

He was arrested again after criticising the Mugabe regime at a conference in the United States in 1998. Mr Rapozo, who believes he was under constant surveillance, was detained as soon as he returned to Zimbabwe.

During his periods of detention he was beaten by his interrogators, but only decided to flee after the two raids on his house. "That's when they made me think twice and I came to the UK," he said.

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