Embassies in Zimbabwe call for respect of human rights during protests

..as police brutality steps a gear up

Lovemore Lubinda|Zimnewsnet

Police brutality went a notch higher today as they attacked people who were waiting for the court order to demonstrate under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) and Coalition of Democrats (Code) that comprises more than 18 political parties.

 

The grouping had sought court order to demonstrate after the police, had failed to sanction it by Thursday 25 august 2016 (yesterday). Before the court could give its ruling granting permission, police went on rampage attacking everyone in sight, including members of the press, and those heading to the Harare Agricultural Show, for the annual exhibition.

Today’s demonstration was meant to petition the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to implement electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 polls. Police trucks were deployed at the civic grounds behind Rainbow Towers where protestors were supposed to converge before proceeding to ZEC offices.

When Zim News visited the venue, people were seen milling around, waiting for court ruling which was finally made at 10 am, but before then, the police had already started tear-gassing and firing water cannons on people.

Meanwhile, the Australian and United States Embassies have expressed grave concerns over the abuses.

“The US government is troubled by the economic policies and financial strains that have prompted numerous recent protests in Zimbabwe and we join many Zimbabweans in their deep concern over reports of violence during some of the protests,” reads a statement from the embassy.

In a press release published today, the Embassy says the US government supports freedoms of speech and assembly and call on the government of Zimbabwe to exhibit restraint and respect of human rights of all its citizens.

“We urge everyone to engage in non-violent discourse and for all those involved in protests, participants and law enforcement alike- to abstain from violence and intimidation and seek peaceful resolutions. Violence is never acceptable,” the Embassy added.

It went on to say that the US is also monitoring recent threats to crack down activists using social media. “We fear these threats will further limit the right of Zimbabweans to exercise freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, which are enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution, protected under the country’s international human rights obligations and core values of any functioning democracy,” reads part of the document.

The Embassy went on to say that the US supports Zimbabweans’ rights to freedom of speech regardless the venue- be it in public, through print media or social media.

At the same time, Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Suzanne McCourt says her government shares the concerns of many Zimbabweans at the violence which has occurred over recent weeks in the country.  The use of violence is not acceptable under any circumstance.

“The Australian Embassy wishes to emphasise that the rule of law, respect for human rights, right to free speech, and freedom of assembly and other democratic freedoms are at the heart of the Zimbabwean Constitution and must be respected by all parties,” she says.

She adds that Australia encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure the democratic freedoms of all Zimbabweans are fully protected. Zimnewsnet