Malawi: CSOs Condemn Cowardly Petrol Bomb Attacks - Malawi Activist Mtambo Latest Casualty

Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson Timothy Mtambo's car.
15 August 2019

Two civil society organisations under the banner National Advocacy Platform (NAP) and the Joint Civil Society Platform on Good Governance (JCSPG) have strongly condemned radicals who threw petrol bombs at human rights activist Timothy Mtambo's in the early morning of Thursday August 15 2019.

Mtambo is both the chairperson of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR). He has been playing steady leadership to the ongoing demonstrations against the purported rigged elections.

HRDChas been spearheading nationwide demonstrations aimed at forcing the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign for allegedly mismanaging the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

"We are aware that the plans to attack him and other HRDs have been rife for some time," said NAP chairperson Beneditco Kondowe, in a statement made available to Nyasa Times.

He said the National Advocacy Platform regards the attack as "acts of cowardice" by those who do not believe in dissent and democracy.

"These brutal attacks against Human Rights Defenders are reminiscent of dictatorial regimes and therefore, outlandish to democracy. Malawi as a party to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders is under obligation to ensure the freedom of human rights defenders to act without interference, intimidation, abuse, threat, violence, reprisal or undue restriction.

"We therefore reiterate our belief and conviction that there can be no realisation of human rights without human rights defenders whose sacrifice and courageous voices contribute to peace, security, justice, rule of law and sustainable development," Kondowe said in the statement.

NAP further declared that it will hold government to account should anything happen to Mtambo or any other human rights defender.

"This is the case because the State under our Constitution and international law has the obligation to safeguard the right to life of everyone including human rights defenders. More regrettably, these attacks have been wide spread in recent times."

NAP pointed out that amidst post-election protests, incidences of violence are on the increase as thugs are taking advantage to damage property and attack innocent people.

" We have seen the bombing of offices, torching of houses and yet the country's top leadership seem to be indifferent. We therefore call upon the Head of the State and Presidents of political parties to commit to dialogue in ending the current impasse," reads the statement.

It said considering that these attacks on Mtambo follow the "well calculated to purpose anti-HRDC campaign," the Police and security services should investigate, apprehend and prosecute those behind the attack.

" We also appeal to the Malawi Human Rights Commission to independently investigate such attacks as they erode the gains we have made in human rights promotion and protection in this country," said the statement.

And on their part the Joint Civil Society Platform on Good Governance (JCSPG) has also condemned the attack on Mtambo's property.

In a separate statement, JCSPG condemned the petrol-bomb at Mtambo's residence as signs of terrorism.

"As human rights activist who truly believes in contact, dialogue and peaceful means we strongly condemn the attack. We therefore call upon the Malawi Police and security services to investigate, apprehend and prosecute the people behind this barbaric act," the grouing said.

HRDC which is planning another mass demonstration targeting airports and border posts in the same bid to get rid of Ansah who has since said she will never resign, has since accused three DPP officials suspected to be the masterminders of petrol bombs that were thrown at Mtambo's house and car.

MacDonald Sembereka of HRDC told reporters that Southern Region DPP governor Charles Mchacha, the party's spokesperson Nicholas Dausi and director of elections Ben Phiri are sponsors of the attacks.

Reports allege that they sponsored Ben Khuleya and Maya Maluwa, to carry the attack after they first petrol bombed MCP Vice President Sidik Mia's office in Blantyre last week and escaped without trace.

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