28 June 2017

Zimbabwe: Arrest of Mawarire History Repeating Itself - Amnesty

International rights advocacy group Amnesty International has condemned the latest arrest of Zimbabwean preacher and anti-government activist Evan Mawarire.

The cleric was arrested Monday after he held prayers with University of Zimbabwe medical students protesting fee increases.

Mawarire's attorney Harrison Nkomo said the pastor was charged with disorderly conduct in a public place.

Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, Belinda Moses, said:

"The latest arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire is unfortunately a classic case of history repeating itself.

"His arrest unfortunately shows that he continues to be targeted by a government hell-bent on criminalizing him for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

"Pastor Evan Mawarire is a prisoner of conscience held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights. He must be immediately and unconditionally released."

The preacher's lawyer told Associated Press that police were "assessing whether to allow him (Mawarire) to pay a fine or take him to court."

Mawarire rose to prominence in July 2016 when he used social media to organize the biggest anti-government protest in a decade.

He later left for the United States, claiming his life was threatened after a court dismissed charges against him.

On returning home earlier this year, he was promptly arrested on arrival at Harare International Airport for allegedly subverting a constitutionally elected government.

He was later released on $300 bail and is due to go on trial in September.

Founder of the #Thisflag movement, Mawarire has led several anti-government protests since last year, protesting corruption, human rights violations and the country's declining economy.

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