The United Nations and the United States has raised red flag over the use of force by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on peaceful protesters who were gathered in the central Business district of Harare, waiting to be addressed by the protest organizers Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) political party.
While the peaceful protesters were sitting in the streets, the police moved in with batons sticks, tear gas and whips to disperse the crowd.
The protest had been called off by the ZRP assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi, a few hours before the protest citing that the demonstration was going to be violent.
“Intelligence and concrete evidence on the ground has revealed that indeed these so called ‘peaceful’ demonstrations will turn out to be violent,” said Paul Nyathi.
A court application was filled by MDC seeking approval to proceed with the demonstration, the court interdicted the MDC from proceeding with the demonstration as protesters were already in the streets waiting to be addressed.
The demonstrations were planned as a response to the dire economic and political situations facing the country, the MDC party is also adamant that the 2018 elections were stolen, citing that MDC is the legitimate winner of the elections.
Rupert Colville spokesperson for UN High Commission for Human Rights has urged the state to stop cracking down on peaceful protesters.
“We urge the Zimbabwean government to find ways to continuously engage with the population about their legitimate grievances on the economic situation and to stop cracking down on peaceful protesters,” highlighted Rupert.
He further noted that demonstrations in Zimbabwe in the near future should proceed calmly with both the police and the protesters not using disproportionate force.
“If such demonstrations go ahead we urge the security forces and protesters to ensure they proceed calmly and without any violence,” noted Rupert.
Prior to the date set for the demonstrations, a spate of incidences have been reported of alleged state security forces abducting and brutalizing activist, police also impounded on stones and catapults which it alleges were to be used in the march.
“There were worrying reports of threats against citizens who wish to exercise their rights express their opinions of the economic situation via peaceful protests with allegations of increased surveillance of and threats against civil society organizations by state agency,” said Rupert Colville.
Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, Tibor Nagy in responded to the Zimbabwe police brutality on peaceful protesters bemoaned the police’s actions and the violations of human rights
“We condemn the excessive force the police used today against Zimbabweans who were seeking to demonstrate peacefully. We call on Zimbabwe’s security forces to respect human rights and to exercise restraint,” said Tibor Nagy.
However, the MDC party has vowed to continue demonstrating until their grievances are addressed. A series of demonstrations have been planned, while the next demonstration scheduled for today Monday 19 August have been interdicted by the police this morning at the Bulawayo Magistrate courts pending a ruling by the end of the day.
This means the demonstration scheduled today in Bulawayo has until 4pm before it can proceed.
SADC News Zimbabwe Correspondent