By Kingstone Jambawo
LONDON – 31 January 2018-Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (ZHRO) marked the 3rd anniversary of the disappearance of Zimbabwean activist Itai Dzamara who was abducted on 9 March 2015. The Vigil, which took place at the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, was in solidarity with the commemoration held at Africa Unity Square in Harare on Tuesday 30 January 2018.
The protesters expressed their concern about the government’s ‘mum’ and failure to thoroughly investigate Dzamara’s disappearance, which has generated a climate of fear that is still gripping Zimbabwe civil society today. The protesters placed flowers at the embassy entrance in remembrance.
Video: Curtesy of John Burke
Where is Itai? Zimbabweans deliver songs of protest and place flowers at the door of the Embassy in rememberance
Posted by ZHRO Zimbabwean HR Charity on Wednesday, 31 January 2018
Dzamara was abducted in March 2015 and his family strongly believe the State may have played a role in him going missing. At the time of his disappearance, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) said they knew nothing about the circumstances or his whereabouts. It is not clear whether investigations are continuing.
The family has maintained hope that he will be found and the perpetrators behind his involuntary disappearances brought to justice.
Speaking at the event, ZHRO chairperson Chipo Parirenyatwa echoed Patson Dzamara’s plea to President Mnangagwa; “President Mnangagwa, was a key enforcer for Mugabe over the decades, we must hold him to his promise of reconciliation and pressure him to deliver on his promises and provide answers on Itai Dzamara’s disappearance”
Zimbabwean state security agents are notorious for abducting political opponents, civil society activists and journalists. Dzamara’s case is one of many that includes MDC activist, Tonderai Ndira whose brutalised body was found at a farm in Goromonzi in May 2008. Some of the activists have allegedly been tortured at unknown locations, claims which the government has denied.
Cases of missing opposition and civil society activists came during the height of what human rights groups have described as a systematic campaign to eliminate and silence critics of Mugabe’s Zanu-Pf Government.
ZHRO vice chairperson Alfredy Mukuvare said; “The security agents cannot continue to throw out a blanket denial because there are witnesses that point to them as the perpetrators of the crime. This can happen to any one of us. We demand that the new administration tell us about his whereabouts”
The government enacted laws to limit the abilities of local activists and civil society organisations. These laws must be repealed. Hundreds were persecuted for exercising their right to openly criticise the Government, which has itself committed gross human rights violations during elections.
The pieces of legislation that are especially devastating for the efforts of opposition and civil society to mobilise are the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). Peaceful protesters were detained and taken to court under these laws.
“The situation of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe is more than alarming and the failure of the government to prosecute the perpetrators of human rights abuses in shocking. There is a culture of impunity in Zimbabwe. The police are especially empowered by POSA to beat up protesters without fear of being prosecuted” said one the Vigil coordinators Philip Mahlahla.
Thanks to all those who attended: Roseline Mukucha, Sarah Bayisayi, John Burke, Mabel Russel, Philip Mahlahla. Alfredy Mukuvare, Chipochedenga Parirenyatwa, Kingstone Jambawo, Ebson Chigwedere, Thandi Ncube, Thenji Ncube, Mary Muteyerwa, Morella Nhau, Stewart Pride Nyandoro, Sibusisiwe Mapeto, Angela Namatirai Sithole, Junior Madzimure, Gibson Mberi, Chegika Life Phiri, Sibongile Bvungidzire, and Mary Ndoro (Special thanks to Mable Kayiya for helping in organising the event).
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