Zimbabwe: ‘Stay-Away’ Protests against Economic Policies, Late Salaries | Freedom House

Zimbabwe: ‘Stay-Away’ Protests against Economic Policies, Late Salaries

Washington

Washington – July 13, 2016 – In advance of today’s planned stay-away protest in Zimbabwe, where citizens will protest government economic policies by staying away from their offices and schools, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The Zimbabwean government should respect citizens’ right to peaceful protest, as enshrined in Section 59 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution, which states that ‘every person has the right to demonstrate and to present petitions,’” said Lynn Fredriksson, director for Southern African programs. “The government has an obligation to protect freedom of expression. Authorities should not respond to peaceful protests with arrests and repressive measures, as happened last week.”

Background:

Prior to today and Thursday’s planned stay-away, protests have taken place in Harare and other cities as a result of the government’s failure to pay civil servants, a new ban on the import of basic commodities, and grievances about corruption and a faltering economy. Authorities have arrested peaceful protestors and temporarily blocked access to the communications tool WhatsApp. Pastor Evan Mawarire, who has called for nonviolent protests through the popular #ThisFlag Twitter campaign, is in custody, charged with “inciting public violence and disturbing the peace.”

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

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