Christine Nhamo: Human rights violations in Zimbabwe during the shutdown
By Christine Nhamo
What happens, when the police and military forces that are expected to protect and secure people’s rights, brutally violate them, with ignorance and arrogance? What happens if those in power take the law into their own hands and choose to oppress the innocent civilians, just to prove their superiority?
What happens if people barbarically demean each other of their Constitutional Rights? Where are people supposed to run and report to, if those in national uniforms are the ones chasing them with guns?
These are questions, most Zimbabweans had during the recent and on-going barbaric violation of human rights in Zimbabwe. During the past few years, Zimbabwe has been suffering from its deteriorating economic status.
Zimbabweans have clearly been slaves to the backlashes of their economy. The fuel crisis, inflation and poverty has been on its sore peak. The everyday empty promises by the government to make things better, has pushed people to the edge of desperation to bring a visible change in Zimbabwe.
There are things a person can take, but having to stand on a long fuel queue for long hours every morning before going to work, can surely push some violent emotions to the bream.
Zimbabwean citizens for a long time, have been reasonable and loyal to the government activities, for instance, they risked their trust leaving them exchange their USD currency overnight to mere bond notes, they left the government giving false claims of mega deals worth billions, but with no basic restructurings in the fatherland.
It can surely be justified that, it was high time for Zimbabweans to finally stand up for their needs. The silence of Zimbabweans, over the past few years have not yield any good fruits, instead, it gave more power to the economic oppression, corruption and everyday deteriorating of people’s standards of living.
In all desperation to change the future of Zimbabwe, people made a stay away protest and some did a street demonstration. This is absolutely allowed because, it is a human right to demonstrate or protest over unfairness as noted in Section 59 of the Zimbabwean Constitution.
However, an expected peaceful, non-violent march ended up being one of the violent marches ever recorded in the Zimbabwean history. To spice up this revolution, roads were barricaded with burning tires and debris by the protestors. This was a violation of people’s right to freedom of movement, since cars could not move at liberty.
The desperate looting and destruction of property by protestors, was clearly also an inhuman act. Note that, most businesses in Zimbabwe are owned by private individuals so, the moment the looting take place, it is the ordinary innocent people who loses. You can’t imagine having your lifetime investments squandered overnight by people without any notice. Looting and destruction of private properties sorely can’t be justified.
However, the protest done by people in desperate need to change the current poor situation in the country, unfortunately resulted in the extreme violation of people’s rights by the police and military forces. The way in which the police responded to this protest was just extreme and very unnecessary putting people’s lives at risk, thereby upholding police brutality.
Police brutality is a police misconduct or the use of unnecessary and excessive force by the police dealing with unarmed civilians.
Zimbabwean police in response to the demonstration, acted like it was on real bloody war with its civilians, except, the police were armed and the citizens were running for dear life. A police man is generally supposed to protect and uphold people’s rights in hour of need, danger, crisis and difficulty.
When a citizen does not know what to do and whom to approach, the police should be the most appropriate, approachable, accessible, interactive and dynamic organization of any society but, the Zimbabwean police in the past few days acted like a brutal enemy of people.
The police dispersed the crowds of people using live ammunition, sjamboks, steel pipes, to mention but a few. The police chased people to their homes and in the evenings, they did door to door patrols. Beating severely and arresting mostly innocent people.
The police and military forces assaulted unarmed and innocent civilians in most horrible ways. Some people were beaten in front of their families, (you can imagine such a horrific picture of a father being beaten by the police in the face of his 3-year-old daughter). Some policemen were instructing the accused to swim or roll up in sewage disposals, which is such an unimaginable, inhuman and a God-forbidden act, without concrete evidence that the person is guilty.
The police in all violent and inhuman efforts to silence the protestors, arrested hundreds of people without bail. They were arresting people without doing proper investigations. They got to an extent of arresting primary school kids as young as 11, which is an underage and inconsiderable arrest.
The police arrested and severely disquieting people without any investigation. During their ferocious, non-good door to door perambulations, the police were targeting people who lived close to the looted or vandalized shops and barricaded roads, of which most of these people, on top of their deplorable heavy voices claimed to be innocent.
The police also violated people’s right to privacy by forcefully entering in people’s homes without their permission. In the process, the police were breaking windows and doors, vandalizing people’s properties and also doing unlawful arbitrary searches. During the search, most people reported losing valuable small possessions like, phones and money, and its easily believed that some officers were acting illicitly that day.
Also, the arrest of some political activists is somehow a violation of people’s right to freedom of expression. How can the right to freedom of expression be cemented, if people will be detained on mere plastered claims of insinuating the violence?
How are people supposed to say their thoughts and opinions out loud, if they are petrified of guns pointed on their foreheads? This method of arresting activists is a way of instilling fear in people so that, they won’t say or do anything whenever they feel violated.
The detained people were denied access to showers or any bathroom facility in the police custody. This was proved by the dirty, smell and their appearances in court rooms with the same clothes they got arrested in, 2-4 days ago. What barbaric and inhuman act can surpass that one. Most injured people were denied access to hospital facilities for treatment, thereby violating people’s right to health and medical assistance.
Zimbabwe has always been a peaceful country, violence or human massacres is something that goes beyond our ethics. The 1st of August deaths were supposed to be the last ones but, it has been proved that this cry will go on and on until the day the government and people unite. Approximately, 12 people had their blood spilled in vain.
We as Zimbabweans need assurance that these things won’t repeat themselves again. There are better ways to disperse crowds than using live bullets (ammunition). People’s rights should be respected and protected, that’s the virtues of democracy. What transpired in Zimbabwe, has surely proved to be an abandonment of the last ounces of humanity to revive Zimbabwe.
NB* The police commission said some of the people in civilian and police regalia were not police officers, investigations in progress……. (your thoughts)