Press release August 22, 2019
Zimbabwe: Government Must Halt Extended Crackdown on Dissent
The government of Zimbabwe must end its violent crackdown on dissent in the country and immediately investigate reports of beatings and torture by state security agents.
In response to a spate of arbitrary arrests, abductions, beatings, and torture of opposition members, civil society leaders, and activists in Zimbabwe, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The government of Zimbabwe must end its violent crackdown on dissent in the country and immediately investigate reports of beatings and torture by state security agents,” said Jon Temin, director of Africa programs at Freedom House. “These attacks violate Zimbabweans’ rights to free assembly, association, and expression, and have continued despite repeated promises by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that his government would usher in a new dispensation that respects fundamental rights. If Zimbabwe truly wants to break with its abusive past, those found responsible for these heinous acts should be held to account.”
The attacks come in the wake of protests organized by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that were due to take place in the capital, Harare, on August 16 and later in other parts of the country. Suspected security agents reportedly abducted, beat, and tortured activists, civil society leaders, and members of the opposition in the days leading up to the planned protests. Police subsequently prohibited the demonstrations, but hundreds of Zimbabweans congregated in defiance of the ban on August 16. Police violently dispersed the protesters using whips, batons, and tear gas. Arrests of civil society leaders and human rights defenders have continued since then.