In response to the brutal assault on peaceful protesters who gathered in the Harare CBD earlier today in anticipation of the “16 August” national protests, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, said:
“The scenes in Harare today demonstrate just how far the authorities will go to repress dissent. Baton-wielding police unleashed a brutal assault on protesters, who had gathered to protest the socio-economic conditions which are causing suffering to so many in Zimbabwe.
“The Zimbabwean authorities should know that the world is watching. The authorities must end the escalating crackdown on dissent and respect, protect, and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. There must be full accountability for these attacks, which left scores of people injured and shows the government’s contempt for human rights.
“We are calling on the authorities to launch a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into today’s attacks. They must also allow opposition protests to go ahead, and stop using violence as a tool of harassment and intimidation and to silence critical voices. The repression of peaceful dissent will not solve the economic problems which brought protestors to the streets in the first place.”
Zimbabwean police on Thursday announced the ban of today’s protests through a press statement, saying that “demonstrations will turn out to be violent”. Earlier today, the High Court dismissed an application by the opposition Movement for Democratic to overturn that ban.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.