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Stop the Persecution of Zimbabwean Citizens Demanding Accountability - Africans Rising

On behalf of members of the Africans Rising Movement for Justice, Peace & Dignity, we are saddened by the inhumane and unjust persecution being carried out by the Government of Zimbabwe which has led to the arrest of our comrades Pastor Evan Mawarire, Robson Chere and 600 other citizens.

From reports in the media, the Zimbabwe police armed with ammunitions including AK47, on Wednesday 16th January 2019, arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire at his residency for his involvement in mobilizing citizens to demonstrate against the hike in fuel prices and food shortage. Pastor Evan Mawarire, a notable activist for social justice is charged with inciting violence.

In the multiple videos in which Pastor Mawarire called on citizens to mobilize and protest against the sudden hike of fuel prices to over $12/Gallon, he clearly demanded that citizens remain peaceful and kept on preaching non-violence. It is absurd that Zimbabwean authorities accuse Pastor Mawarire of inciting violence when he rather was deterring violence through his preachings.

In addition to Pastor Mawarire, our comrade Robson Chere, the secretary general of the Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe has been arrested by security forces and till day, we have been unable to establish contact with him. Robson Chere has demonstrated tremendous courage and humanism throughout his continuous fight for social justice and fair treatment of rural teachers in his country. In a statement he released on Monday the 14th of January 2019, the first day of the #Zimshutdown demonstrations,  Comrade Robson Chere urged “parents to keep their kids at home for the safety of learners”. The Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe values the safety and wellbeing of both students and children and it is unfortunate that the government of Zimbabwe resumes to persecuting their leaders.

We deplore the excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators which led to the killing of at least 8 citizens of Zimbabwe since the beginning of the protests. In the aftermath #Zimshutdown protests initiated by the citizens of Zimbabwe to condemn the food and fuel scarcity, the government of Zimbabwe also shut down the internet on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019, then restored it the following day while maintaining social media sites inaccessible. This desperate move by the government of Zimbabwe to crackdown protests is a grave violation of freedom of speech and assembly which are guaranteed under the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights. 

Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity calls on the government of Zimbabwe to stop the carnage against its citizens as they are only asking to live in dignity. Beyond our concern about the safety of the numerous activists and protesters that were apprehended by the government of Zimbabwe, we are seriously worried about the wellbeing of the people of Zimbabwe as the food shortage leading to people queuing for hours to buy commodities, is exposing millions of people to famine. The first duty that a government owes its citizens is that of protection and the government of Zimbabwe is failing at protecting its people from resource scarcity. Rather, it opted to abuse them when they revolt against the misery they are forced to endure.

It must not become the norm for government to shut down the internet in a bid to crackdown protests, arrest, detain and torture activists for demanding accountability. The Africa we want starts with an awoke citizenry that holds its government accountable for their successes and most importantly, their failures. No African must be denied of their right to have an accountable, responsible and transparent government.

We are calling on all the regional bodies such as the African Union and the SADC to take their responsibility and ensure the protection of the people of Zimbabwe who they are their government is seriously failing. In addition, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of our members Pastor Evan Mawarire,  Robson Chere and others who are being punished for exercising their basic human right: that of free speech.

We reiterate our solidarity to the people of Zimbabwe and call on all the active forces of democracy and justice to rise in solidarity with our sisters and brothers of Zimbabwe. Our movement pledges to do the necessary to support the people of Zimbabwe and we would like to express our sincerest condolences to the families of the people who have lost their lives during the crackdown of protests in Zimbabwe.

In Solidarity,

Leadership Team

Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity

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