As reprisals continue in Zimbabwe, CIVICUS calls on international bodies to intervene

(Johannesburg 7 August 2020) CIVICUS calls on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) to denounce ongoing human rights violations in Zimbabwe and act decisively against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Increasing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, together with the silence of the international community, have prompted an online campaign #ZimbabweanLivesMatter. There have been more than 700,000 tweets in the last few days as people from across the world express their solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.

Over 60 activists, journalists and citizens have been arrested and more than 16 people injured in physical attacks by security forces. The authorities have released a ‘wanted’ list of 14 activists and have abducted family members in an attempt to force activists to hand themselves over. In response to the protests President Emmerson Mnangagwa called members of the political opposition “terrorists” and promised to “flush out” those calling for demonstrations.

Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and protest leader and head of Transform Zimbabwe Jacob Ngarivhume, have twice been denied bail, which is their constitutional right, and remain in detention on charges of inciting public violence. Other activists and authors have been released and will soon appear in court.

“As violence escalates against the people of Zimbabwe, and the rule of law is trampled on by a regime that has no regard for civic freedoms, the SADC and AU can no longer afford to be indifferent. President Cyril Ramaphosa, as Chair of the African Union, has a responsibility to speak up against these human rights violations and he must call on the African Union to act now,”   said Paul Mulindwa, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer, CIVICUS.

Background

Civil society activists from what is known as the ’31 July Movement’, called for protests on 31 July to protest widespread corruption in government, soaring inflation and the dire economic conditions of Zimbabweans. To curb the protests, the streets of Zimbabwe have been heavily militarised and security forces are indiscriminately arresting civil society leaders and journalists. Activist Tawanda Muchehiwa has been abducted, and security forces have arrested family members of Zimlive editor and journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu in order to force him to hand himself over to the authorities. Police have created checkpoints and prevented hundreds of people from entering the capital Harare.

For more information on civic space violations, visit the Zimbabwe country page on the CIVICUS Monitor.

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