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Zimbabwe Human Rights NGOs call for release of abducted Itai Dzamara

Immediately release Zimbabwean abducted HRD Mr Dzamara
10 March 2015

Human rights groups and prominent individuals have unanimously expressed their strong condemnation of the abduction of Zimbabwean human rights defender Itai Dzamara, which took place on 9 March in Harare. Mr Dzamara who was adducted in broad daylight in a chilling incident that reminded Zimbabweans of its very dark politicide of 2008, has not been found yet.

The abduction of Dzamara comes at a time when cases of politically motivated murders, abductions, disappearances, torture and intimidation have been drastically reduced although the overall situation was still far from perfect. Further, it also comes at a time when the African Union elevated President Mugabe to the chairmanship of the African Union while the European Union had just started normalizing its relationship with Zimbabwe.

In its media release of 10 March 2015, Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights said  “This behavior by Zimbabwe’s police and security forces is reprehensible…In an ideal world, President Mugabe, as Chairman of the African Union, would set a good example for the rest of the region when it comes to human rights. Sadly, he has done the opposite.”

Within Zimbabwe all leading human rights organisations including Crisis Coalition, Zimrights and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have expressed their utter sense of shock at this latest development. The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, in its alert dated 10 March
called upon the abductors to release Dzamara or for him to be brought before the courts if he has committed any crime.

On her Twitter page, Irene Petras, the Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says her organisation has since filed an urgent application to a judge (habeas corpus) against state to release Itai Dzamara immediately. Apparently responding to the rumors circulating on social media that Mr Dzamara had been found dead, Ms Petras urged Zimbabweans to exercise maturity and restraint. She stated, “Let’s be responsible – rumors and false reports on Dzamara will impede the search when time and focused energy are of the essence”.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) called for an end to the pervasive culture of impunity. In their statement, they urged the state to ensure that those who carry out these disappearances are made to account for their actions. This incident couldn’t have been more poignant for ZPP since its Executive Director was abducted and disappeared at the hands of the state in 2008.

Concerned Zimbabweans such as Rebecca Zeiglar Mano, friends of Zimbabwe including Jeffrey Smith of the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Human Rights and International organisations, for instance Amnesty International are maintaining a state of vigilance on the issue. Please follow their twitter pages for more updates as this story evolves. In the meantime, we urge you all to exercise both vigilance and restraint, as you stand in solidarity with the Dzamara family during what must be an extremely trying time for them.

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