20 January 2019
Shutdown Violations Updates in Brief
On the Abduction of Obert Masaraure
Mr. Obert Masaraure, President of ARTUZ who was abducted on Friday 18 January 2019 around 1am, was later dumped at Harare Central Police Station. He was badly tortured. He has since been remanded in custody to the 25th of January 2019. Reports are that he has since been transferred to Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
On the Ransom Arrest of the Mahiya Family
Mrs. Hilda Mahiya (63), the mother to Mr. Rashid Mahiya, Chairperson of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Executive Director of Heal Zimbabwe Trust, was also badly tortured by the police and the soldiers on Friday 18 January 2019. The police also tortured Pastor. Douglas (Jnr) Mahiya. Both are accused of hiding the whereabouts of Mr. Rashid Mahiya whom the state accuses of masterminding the protests that rocked the nation following fuel increases.
On the Attacks Against Civil Society
In a statement released on 18 January 2019, the Forum condemned the attacks on civil society. Part of the statement reads, “It is regrettable that the government, instead of addressing the deepening economic crisis that has triggered the social unrest, it has resorted to blame shifting and unjustified attacks on civil society leaders whom it accuses of the chaos. Reports have been received of surveillance of civil society premises, homes of civil society members, attacks in the media and threats of de-registration by government. The Forum asserts that the work of civil society particularly, human rights defenders is legitimate and must be protected.” Read full statement here.
For more details on the rights and protections for human rights defenders, see the UN declaration on human rights defenders here. Zimbabwe has an obligation to ensure the protection of human rights defenders.
Possible Stay Away
On Saturday and Sunday 2019, messages continued circulating calling for a continuation of the stay away from 21 to 25 January 2019. The labour movement has not released a statement validating this call. However, the Forum received reports of continuing state violence on citizens in Epworth, Chitungwiza and Budiriro. The latest report was received on Sunday that around 1pm, soldiers fired bullets at a combi in Budiriro targetting the driver. The combi was involved in an accident. It is not yet clear by the time of the report the state of the passengers in the combi. The Forum also received reports of roadblocks being mounted by soldiers in areas like Norton. The Forum urges all Zimbabweans to exercise extreme caution as the situation is still tense and unpredictable.
Statements from the Human Rights Community
Members of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum have spoken strongly against state perpetrated violence in response to the fuel riots. On 18 January 2019, the Forum issued a statement which revealed that over at least 12 people were killed during the shutdown, dozens more left nursing wounds of gunshots while over 400 were locked up in dragnet arrests. Read the full statement here
On 17 January 2019, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference release the Pastoral Letter on the current events in Zimbabwe. The letter, titled ‘Rebuild Hope, Trust, Confidence and Stability in Zimbabwe’ raises concern regarding the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, the government’s heavy-handedness towards dissent. “To get our economy working again,” the Bishops say, “Zimbabwe needs strong institutions for without the necessary reforms we become irrelevant and spectators in the life of the modern world.” Read the full statement here.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) together with the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) have called for an end to human rights violations and urged the President Emmerson Munangagwa to return to Zimbabwe to initiate national dialogue. See full statement here
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) have released details regarding the people who suffered violence during the shutdown. In a statement released on 16 January 2019, the doctors said that they had attended to 172 cases of which 68 cases were gunshot wounds. The doctors reported that 17 individuals underwent emergency surgery as they had life threatening conditions. Read the full statement here.
From MISA Zimbabwe
MISA Zimbabwe challenging the communications and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights ’ urgent court application date, use of the Interception of Communications Act to wholly suspend has been set . The application will be heard on Monday 21 January 2019 at 14.30 before Justice Owen Tagu. Read the statement from MISA here.
Response from the International Community
A number of international organisations have since reacted to the human rights violations in Zimbabwe. The United Nations has called for a probe into state violence in Zimbabwe. See report here
The European Union has also spoken strongly against the use of live ammunition on protestors. See full statement here