Zimbabwe targets civil society leaders : WMD

Pastor and activist Evan Mawarire, right, arrives handcuffed at the magistrates courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have said in a statement that Mawarire who is among the more than 600 people arrested this week has been charged with subverting a constitutional government amid a crackdown on protests against a dramatic fuel price increase.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

The World Movement for Democracy (WMD) condemns the recent detention of seven civil society leaders in Zimbabwe, as part of an ongoing crackdown on the rights of Zimbabwean citizens and civil society members. The individuals were arbitrarily charged with “subverting a constitutionally elected government” for attending a workshop on non-violent protest in the Maldives.

These arrests directly violate laws enshrined in Zimbabwe’s own constitution, which the new government has promised to uphold. Join us in calling for these absurd charges to be dropped and for the government to cease its continued violation of basic human rights.

On May 20, 2019, five activists—Tatenda Mombeyarara, George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, Gamuchirai Mukura, and Farirai Gumbonzvanda—were detained at Robert Mugabe International Airport upon their return from a capacity-building conference on peaceful protest in the Maldives. On May 27, airport security detained two additional activists-Stabile Dewah and Rita Nyamupinga—on the same grounds.

Since May 20, authorities have searched the homes and workplaces of both Gamuchirai Mukura and Nyasha Frank Mpahlo. The first five activists remain detained in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison while awaiting the results of their bail hearing, which was delayed from May 31 to June 7. Information about hearings for the remaining two activists is not yet available, but they remain in detention.

In addition to increasing arbitrary arrests, human rights organizations in Zimbabwe have expressed fear over the government’s increasing use of media outlets to publish “falsehoods against civil society organisations in a deliberate effort to criminalise the work of civil society, fuel hate and undermine the integrity of the persons who work with and in civil society.

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