Amnesty International on Monday said Zimbabwean authorities have arrested two more human rights activists at a Harare airport “in a mounting onslaught on the rights to freedom of expression and association”.
“The first five human rights defenders arrested are facing trumped up charges for exercising their human rights. They should be released immediately and unconditionally,” Amnesty International’s deputy director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said.
“The charges against them fit into a much wider pattern of repression we have documented in Zimbabwe.”
She said the first batch of activists – George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Nyasha Mpahlo and Farirai Gumbonzvanda – have been accused of “plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government”.
Amnesty International believes the two activists arrested on Monday are also likely to be charged with subverting a constitutional government.
The London-based non-governmental organisation said Stabile Dewah, 35, and Rita Nyamupinga, 61, bring to seven the number of human rights defenders detained in Harare in the past seven days as they returned from a capacity-building workshop on non-violent protest tactics in the Maldives.
“Since January’s protests we have witnessed a mounting crackdown on human rights defenders and activists. Lawyers, journalists and even medical doctors have not been spared.
“Zimbabwe’s authorities have declared anyone who exercises their right to freedom [of] expression and association an enemy of the state. This witch-hunt must stop,” Mwananyanda said.
She said the Mnangagwa-led government is persecuting the activists who attending a workshop organised by a Serbian NGO in the Maldives called the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS).
“They [the initial five activists] were formally charged with plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government on 21 May and remanded to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
“Police confiscated their laptops and mobile phones, which were reportedly handed over to the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe ‘for extraction of evidence’.
“The evidence, including some notes recorded during the meeting, will be produced in court as evidence against the activists,” Mwananyanda said.
“Zimbabwean authorities must stop using trumped-up charges to intimidate and harass human rights defenders and civil society leaders.
The rights to freedom of expression and association are not just ‘nice to have’ constitutional requirements; they are legal human rights that all Zimbabweans must live and enjoy every day,” she said.
– African News Agency (ANA)