Amnesty International has condemned Zimbabwean authorities for a brutal crackdown on peaceful anti-corruption protests and the arrest of several activists on Friday.
A number of activists and journalists suspected of being behind the planned demonstration have gone into hiding after police published a list of names of individuals who are wanted for questioning in connection with the protests.
In a statement on Friday, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said the arrest of the activists is a blatant abuse of the criminal justice system. She said:
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The brutal assault on political activists and human rights defenders who have had the courage to call out alleged corruption and demand accountability from their government is intensifying. The persecution of these activists is a blatant abuse of the criminal justice system and the mockery of justice.
This latest witch-hunt and repression of peaceful dissent is a continuation of what we have seen in the country in recent years, including the abductions and arbitrary arrests of those who are critical of the government, in an attempt to muzzle differing views. The thwarting of the protest illustrates the Zimbabwean authorities’ total intolerance of criticism.
Opposition MDC-Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, an author, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Henry Chivhanga, an activist fighting for rights of people with disabilities are among those who were arrested for protesting.
Meanwhile, police also arrested the sister of investigative journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu on 30 July and refused to release her until the journalist appeared at Bulawayo Central police station.