Press release

Zimbabwe: Protesters Arrested, Social Media Blocked

Freedom House issued the following statement in response to recent arrests of protesters and blocked access to a communications app in Zimbabwe.

Washington

In response to Zimbabwean authorities arresting a growing number of protesters, as well as the government temporarily blocking access to the communications app WhatsApp, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Freedom House condemns the unlawful arrests of peaceful civilians in Victoria Falls, Masvingo, and other locales, as demonstrators show their dissatisfaction with the government’s economic policies,” said Lynn Fredriksson, director for Southern Africa programs. “We are also concerned by the government’s efforts to limit citizens’ ability to communicate and share information freely, by temporarily shutting down WhatsApp access.”

Background:

Protests have erupted in Harare and other cities as a result of the government’s failure to pay its civil servants and a new government ban on the import of basic commodities. The government has responded by paying salaries for security sector employees, and announcing plans to pay others in coming weeks.

Zimbabwe is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2016, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016.