By Tatenda Dewa
Police on Monday arrested seven human rights activists in Masvingo during the launch of a protest campaign, #Tasvinura.
Five of the activists were released but the other two, Ephraim Mutombeni and Prosper Tiringindi, remain in custody for allegedly attempting to incite violence during a public gathering.
The #Tasvinura campaign is a new provincial movement based in the city of Masvingo and was established to help citizens speak out on issues of national importance.
It uses both online and offline networking methods in demanding political, economic and social reforms.
Zimbabwean security authorities have been roundly condemned for using brute force on citizen protesters who are demanding political change amid a worsening economic crisis and increasing human rights abuses.
During recent protests in Harare and other parts of the country, police and soldiers violently dispersed demonstrators amid fears that President Robert Mugabe might decree a state of emergency.
Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, recently insinuated that government might use unusual means to tackle the protests, which human rights activists say are set to be a weekly routine.
Western embassies, political parties and local as well regional human rights watchdogs have roundly condemned the manner in which the security sector has handled the protests.
On Tuesday, the European Union rapped the police for violently managing the demonstrations, amid growing concerns of forced disappearances.
Heal Zimbabwe has added its voice in a statement to commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance marked every 30 August.
“For Zimbabwe, this year’s commemorations come against a background where abductions are still taking place 36 years after independence from colonial rule,” said Heal Zimbabwe.
It singled out the abduction of Itai Dzamara, a journalist turned activist who disappeared in March last year and, more recently, Kerina Gweshe Dewah, the MDC-T Harare Provincial vice chairperson whose family is still looking for her after servicemen took her way late last week.
Another activist, Gift Ostallos Siziba, was also abducted during protests last week and later discovered in police custody.
“The occasion of this year’s commemoration…offers an opportunity for the government to expedite the search for missing persons, particularly Itai Dzamara, whose search was ordered by the High Court.
“Abductions remain a gross human rights violation that must be condemned as it is not only degrading but barbaric and a bad practice. The increase in abduction cases highlights the government’s insincerity over ensuring that citizens are protected against involuntary abductions,” said Heal Zimbabwe.
It called on the government to stop using abductions as a tool to persecute political opponents. Nehanda Radio