Zimbabwe: Deployment of Security Forces Evokes August 2018 Memories - Amnesty

President Emmerson Mnangagwa inspecting guard of honour (file photo).
23 July 2020

Amnesty International has expressed concern over threats by some senior Government officials that security forces will be out in full force to thwart any planned demonstrations in the country.

In a statement, the human rights movement says remarks by Deputy Minister of Defence, Victor Matemadanda and other senior Government officials evokes memories of August 2018 and January 2019 killings.

"Amnesty International is concerned with threats by Zimbabwe's Deputy Minister of Defence, Victor Matemadanda, 'to unleash security forces on the protestors' in response to an alleged planned mass protest in the country. Other senior government officials have made similar threats of the use of force should Zimbabweans go into the streets to protest. This evokes memories of killings of civilians by security forces in August 2018 and January 2019." read the statement

The movement said it is concerned about the potential loss of life from threatened violence by ruling party youths and the warnings of unleashing members of the military on protestors and urged the authorities to stop deployment of military personnel.

"We call upon the Zimbabwe authorities to stop the deployment of military personnel as well as use of excessive force and firearms to suppress dissent and to manage public protests, in line with the UN Basic Principles. Stop targeting, harassing and threatening activists and human rights defenders ahead of the planned protests," said Amnesty International

Among other demands the movement called for the dropping of charges against Hopewell Chin'ono and Jacob Ngarivhume.

"Drop charges and immediately release Hopewell Chin'ono and Jacob Ngarivhume. Ensure that any law enforcement officer who exercises abusive and arbitrary use of force and firearms is brought to justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts and without recourse to death penalty.

"Compensate any victims who may be subjected to violence and excessive use of force and firearms by the police and military personnel. Arrest and, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecute law enforcement officials responsible for the killings and torture of protesters in August 2018 and January 2019."

On 1 August 2018, six people were shot and killed during protests for alleged mishandling of presidential elections. In January 2019, 17 people were killed, and scores arrested and tortured by law enforcement officers during protests over fuel price increases.

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