7 December 2012

Tanzania: Call for Activist's Death Probe

THE Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRD) and its regional umbrella body of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDN) have requested the police to undertake thorough investigations into the death of an activist, Eustace Nyarugenda (46).

A joint statement by these networks, including those from the Lake Zone like Mwanza-based Kivulini and the ABC-Foundation where the late Nyarugenda worked, pronounced that the untimely death of Nyarugenda was a severe blow to Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) across the Lake Zone, the country and the entire region.

According to Mara Regional Police Commander (SSP) Japhet Lusingu, the late Nyarugenda went missing on December 3 and passed away the following day at Bunda District Hospital after his mysterious disappearance. "Nyarugenda was found at Savanna Bar and Guest House after people heard unusual groans from room number four, which he had booked earlier on.

This prompted breaking of the door where a half full bottle of beer, Castle Milk brand and a pesticide Nivan were found besides him, suggesting a suicidal attempt," Commander Lusingu explained.

According to Mr Onesmo Paul OLengurumwa who is the Research Assistant, LHRC and THRD Coalition Coordinator, the deceased was coordinating the on-going 16 days campaign against gender-based violence (GBV), the activism engagement organized by Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF).

He was also the Executive Director of the Action Based Community Foundation, a member organization of the THRD-Coalition and EHAHRDN and fought very strongly against female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence. According to another colleague identified as Migiro and the deceased's daughter, Wema, this was the second time the late Nyarugenda disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

They recalled a similar incident that occurred in August, last year when he was found four days later in total disarray, confused and highly traumatized in Bariadi. In the first incident, medical examination reports from Bugando Referral Hospital in Mwanza ruled out the possibility of poisoning or addiction of any harmful substance.

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