Mr. Gomes has asked Robert Gabriel Mugabe to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the death threats against human rights defenders.
(YORK, UK) – Human Rights are paying the toll their courage brings in Zimbabwe.
Mr Nkosilathi Moyo and Mr Jasper Maposa, were recently informed by hundreds of armed, violent youth who crashed a community meeting, that their human rights activism was an attempt to ?change the regime?.
The lives of the two men were threatened and they were warned that they are ?fighting a losing battle? in their attempt to file charges against hundreds of armed youth who attacked a community meeting while appearing to work in unison with local police.
William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador forSalem-News.com?has asked Robert Gabriel Mugabe to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the death threats against human rights defenders Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa.
Mr. Gomes also asked Robert Gabriel Mugabe to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
H.E. Robert Gabriel Mugabe,
Office of the President,
Samora Machel Avenue,
I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for?Salem-News.com.
I came to know about the situation from Front Line Defenders is the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
On 2 February 2013, Mr Nkosilathi Moyo and Mr Jasper Maposa, respectively Director and Programmes Manager at the Zimbabwe Organization For Youth In Politics (ZOYP), were subjected to threats to drop the charges at the police, following a complaint submitted on 31 January 2013 after a community meeting organised by ZOYP and the Centre for Conflict Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) in the city of Kwekwe was stormed by hundreds of armed youths, reportedly affiliated to the ruling party ZANU PF. ZOYP is a community-based organisation in Kwekwe, while CCDZ is a non-governmental organisation based in Harare.
On 2 February, around 11am, Nkosilathi Moyo received a phone call from an unidentified number threatening him and Jasper Maposa to drop the charges at the police. Later in the same day, around 3pm, Jasper Maposa received another call from an unidentified number, renewing earlier threats and saying he was ?fighting a losing battle.?
On 31 January 2013, approximately one hundred local residents attended the community meeting organised by ZOYP and CCDZ in Mbizo Youth Centre in Kwekwe to discuss developments in the drafting of the country’s new Constitution, including the bill of rights, before the draft is put to a referendum. During the meeting, which had been sanctioned by local police under the Public Order and Security Act, an armed group of hundreds of youths, reportedly affiliated to the ruling party ZANU PF and who identify themselves as ?Al Shabab?, violently disrupted the meeting and threatened the participants.
The youths were reportedly transported to the venue by bus by ZANU PF Chairman of Mbizo, and were dressed in overalls with President Mugabe’s face at the back. Some also wore t-shirts with the face of the President. The youths carried heavy sticks and sang ZANU PF slogans and songs about President Mugabe, stating that whoever tries to question the President ?will die like a dog?. Human rights newsletters, cameras and other materials were stolen. Police did not intervene to ensure the safety of participants, who fled the meeting in fear of their lives.
Organisers of the meeting, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa were targeted and threatened with death by the youths, who told them that their human rights activism was an attempt to ?change the regime? and that the ZANU PF-led government will eliminate them if they continued to organise similar meetings in Kwekwe. Following threats from the youths to follow them home and fearing for their safety, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa went into hiding and have not been able to return to their regular activities. They subsequently submitted a complaint to police .To date, no investigation has been initiated by police regarding this complaint.
The attack followed a statement by Al Shabab in early January 2013 that no civil society organisation or human rights defender would be allowed to operate in Kwekwe as they were ?agents of regime change?.
ZOYP has been subjected to previous acts of intimidation and harassment. One such example is a human rights defenders’ youth meeting, which was organised by ZOYP and held in Kwekwe Theatre on 16 November 2011. Although the meeting had been permitted by police, police and ZANU PF youths reportedly disrupted the meeting and presented ZOYP Director Nkosilathi Moyo with a trumped-up charge of defaming the state. Nkosilathi Moyo was subsequently sentenced to six months in prison. Furthermore, the offices of the organisation were raided in July 2011 and computers stolen. During the incident, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa were beaten and went into hiding. On 11 July 2011, a meeting organised with former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Ray, and young human rights defenders in Kwekwe was violently disrupted by Al Shabab, with the US envoy and ZOYP members fleeing for their lives.
I am concerned by the threatening phone calls against Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa, and condemns the violent attack against a peaceful and lawful gathering of human rights defenders and members of a local community, reportedly by youths linked to the ruling party ZANU PF. I also would like to express my grave concern at the failure of police to intervene and fulfil its duties to provide protection to the meeting’s participants. Ahead of expected upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, I calls on the authorities of Zimbabwe to ensure the safety and protection of human rights defenders and civil society organisations operating in the country from pre-election violence, including those individuals based in Kwekwe.
I urge the authorities in Zimbabwe to:
1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the death threats against human rights defenders Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa, and into the abovementioned attack of 31 January 2013, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of ZOYP and CCDZ members and supporters;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for?Salem-News.com