Silence on ‘Disappeared’ Activist : Zimbabwe
May 9, Harare: On March 9, 2015, at about 10 a.m., the five unidentified men dragged a prominent human rights activist, Itai Dzamara, 36, out of the barber shop where he was having his hair cut near his home in the Glenview suburb of Harare, the capital. The men handcuffed him, forced him into a white pickup truck, and drove off, witnesses told local news agency.
THE authorities “appear to be doing nothing to find Itai Dzamara” Despite a court order compelling Zimbabwe police to look for him, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Friday.
Senior HRW researcher Dewa Mavhinga said claims by Dzamara’s family that he had been threatened by state agents prior to his disappearance “are a red flag for Zimbabwe’s international allies to press the government to come clean about what happened to him”.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change and many critics of President Robert Mugabe’s government suspect that state security agents are behind his disappearance.
Before he was abducted, Dzamara had held some little-followed protests in central Harare’s Africa Unity Square calling on Mugabe, 91, to stand down. He was assaulted by police and ruling party supporters in 2014.
In the statement from HRW, Mavhinga said: “The Zimbabwean government should immediately establish Dzamara’s whereabouts, and ensure the protection of all his rights, “Failure to do so would demonstrate to the World that Zimbabwe’s poor human rights record has not improved,” he said.
Supporters of Dzamara held a prayer meeting for him on Thursday in Harare’s central Anglican Cathedral.
Occupy Africa Unity Square, a group set up in support of Dzamara, said in a post to Facebook that Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, who led the prayers, had himself been receiving “harassing phone calls”.
The group quoted the bishop as saying: “There are two possibilities. Either the government is complicit in Dzamara’s disappearance], or it has lost control of the situation.”
The Oslo Times urges the Zimbabwean government to immediately establish Dzamara’s whereabouts, and ensure the protection of all his rights. The Oslo Times