Amnesty International accuses Zim govt of escalating attacks on rights activists

Amnesty's deputy southern Africa director, Muleya Mwananyanda, said his organisation had, since January, witnessed a mounting crackdown on Zimbabwe's human rights defenders and activists.

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HARARE - Amnesty International has slammed the Zimbabwean government for arresting two more activists who attended an overseas training workshop on non-violent protests.

The latest arrests bring to seven the number of those in custody.

In a statement, the non-governmental organisation called the arrests a witch hunt.

Stabile Dewah (35) and Rita Nyamupinga (61) were arrested on Monday at Robert Mugabe International Airport.

They're in trouble for attending a workshop on non-violent protest tactics held earlier this month in the Maldives.
Five other activists who attended the same workshop were arrested last week and charged with subversion.

Amnesty's deputy southern Africa director, Muleya Mwananyanda, said his organisation had, since January, witnessed a mounting crackdown on Zimbabwe's human rights defenders and activists.

“The first five human rights defenders arrested are facing trumped-up charges for exercising their human rights. They should be released immediately and unconditionally. The charges against them fit into a much wider pattern of repression we have documented in Zimbabwe,” Mwananyanda said.

Rights lawyers had accused state prosecutors of deliberately delaying a bail application for some of those detained.

“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 added.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)