Seventy-two landless people and land activists were yesterday arrested in the first signs of the South African government's crackdown on demonstrations during the World Summit of Sustainable Development.

Those arrested include most of the Gauteng leadership of the Landless Peoples' Movement, a national movement of poor and landless people struggling to access land reform across South Africa.

Police also arrested top leaders of the National Land Committee, a national network of 10 land right non-governmental organizations working with poor and landless communities struggling to access land reform across South Africa. The arrests followed a peaceful march and demonstration by 4000 landless people from more than eight different informal settlements around Johannesburg, which are currently facing apartheid style forced removals.

The marchers wanted forced relocation from the homelands stopped and an end to alleged brutal campaign of terror being waged by the police against poor and landless people in the province.

The South African government has made it clear that it will not tolerate people marching to embarrass the government by exposing the country's poverty and landlessness while the eyes of the world is focused on the country.

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