Zimbabwe: Police must be held accountable for brutal assault on protesters

A riot police man kicks out at a man during protests in Harare, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. The main opposition Movement For Democratic Change party is holding protests over deteriorating economic conditions in the country as well as to try and force Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to set up a transitional authority to address the crisis and organize credible elections. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

“The scenes in Harare today demonstrate just how far the authorities will go to repress dissent” – Muleya Mwananyanda

Amnesty International is calling for an investigation in response to today’s brutal police assault on peaceful protesters gathered in Harare’s Central Business District.

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 protesters to the streets in the first place.”

Police ban on protests

In a statement issued yesterday, Zimbabwean police had announced a ban on today’s protests, claiming that “demonstrations will turn out to be violent”.

Earlier today, the Zimbabwe High Court dismissed an urgent application by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to overturn the police ban.