STATEMENT BY RESTORATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (ROHR) ZIMBABWE ON THE SHOOTING OF CIVILIANS BY SOLDIERS_WEEK COMMENCING 14TH JANUARY 2019

Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe once again strongly condemns the shooting of unarmed civilians by members of the Zimbabwe National Army, Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) operatives and ZANU-PF militia in Harare, Bulawayo and other locations in Zimbabwe during and in the aftermath of the “Shut Down Zimbabwe” protests in the week commencing Monday 14th January 2019, using live ammunition. This left at least twelve people dead, more than 200 injured, thousands displaced and hundreds in hiding. We find the actions of the said state apparatus and ZANU-PF militia barbaric, unlawful, criminal and unacceptable regardless of the circumstances.

We pass our condolences to all those who lost loved ones because of the shootings and torture by state machinery and ZANU-PF militia during this period. Our prayers are with the injured and we wish them speedy and complete recovery. We also pray for the displaced and those being hounded by the state apparatus and ZANU-PF militia.

We have observed that similar shootings on 1st August 2018 served as a precursor and established a worrying pattern of state repression and a dictatorship that has abandoned all manner of pretence.

We reiterate that there can never be any justification for extra-judicial killings.

We condemn the shutting down of the internet and blocking of social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook during this period. We can only imagine that this was in order that the state carries out crimes against humanity out of sight from international scrutiny.

We equally condemn the ongoing nocturnal door to door hounding operation by state apparatus and ZANU-PF militia during which they are violently housebreaking, kidnapping, torturing, unlawfully detaining and even murdering perceived civil society and political activists.

We also condemn the kidnapping of children, some as young as 9 years of age, by state apparatus and ZANU-PF militia and the detention of these children in Police cells together with adults.

We also condemn the discernibly conspiratory and flagrant disregard of due process by the judiciary in handling matters of citizens arrested for purported offences during the “Shut Down” period.

We condemn the planting of disguised ZANU-PF youths amongst peaceful demonstrators with a view to instigating and leading the looting and violence thereby tarnishing the thrust of the demo and to causing the level of mayhem that would justify Police intervention.

We also condemn anyone who engaged in looting, violence and any other crime during the stay away / demonstrations.

We urge the powers that be to restrain and censor the Army, Police, CIO and ZANU-PF militia and to hold them to account for the deaths, kidnappings, abductions, torture, persecution and injuries.

We thank ZDHR, ZLHR, ZHRF, CiZC and all civic society organizations and individuals who are partaking in efforts to alleviate the hardships of affected citizens and to record and expose incidents of brutality by state functionaries and ZANU-PF militia.

Demonstrations are a right enshrined in The Constitution of Zimbabwe (Section 59) and in this instance, citizens had genuine and reasonable grievances to do with economic hardships which tended to impact on other human rights (e.g. right to life).

Conclusion: the actions of the army which led to the unnecessary loss of life point to an urgent call for the country to revert to a constitutional order. Soldiers should never at any time be deployed in civilian activities. There is therefore an urgent need to de-militarize the republic if at all it is to emerge from the current fragile state to a full-fledged democracy.

All citizens expect protection from the state and not to be terrorised especially in their own homes.

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Information & Publicity Department

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