Rights groups slam Patson Dzamara abduction and torture

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Rights groups have roundly condemned the state crackdown on human rights defenders which saw Friday’s abduction and torture of prominent pro-democracy activist Patson Dzamara.

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The incident happened Friday morning, some hours before a planned protest by activists against the introduction of bond notes by government.

Dzamara was in the company of other activists who scattered in all directions when they were ambushed by armed men suspected to be state agents.

He is brother to firebrand pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara who disappeared without trace when he was abducted by suspected state agents March last year. His car was torched.

During his ordeal, Dzamara was assaulted on the back of his head and all over his back with spikes which had been thrown in front of his vehicle before being driven to a place which he strongly suspects to be Lake Chivero.

Throughout his detention in the said truck, Dzamara had a gun stuck to his neck.

The author turned anti-government campaigner was warned that he had not learnt from the fate of his missing brother and was told that; “Hauna kudzidza pane zvatakaaita kumukoma wako manje nguva yekudzidza yakwana (You haven’t learnt much from how we treated your brother and now is the time to learn).

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) were among rights groups that condemned state brutalities towards rights defenders.

“The continued harassment of HRDs, who are exercising their rights, is simply unacceptable and should cease immediately,” ZLHR said in a statement on Friday.

“Silencing those who criticise the government for presiding over the suffering being endured by citizens will not bring stability to the country.

“The complete lack of accountability of those responsible for perpetrating violations against other HRDs is of special concern given the longstanding and pervasive culture of impunity in Zimbabwe.”

ZPP said it was also disappointed with the abuse of rights defenders by the state.

“Zimbabwe Peace Project is disappointed to learn about the brutal attack and abduction of Patson Dzamara and other activists. ZPP is further disillusioned by the deliberate destruction of property belonging to some of the activists,” ZPP said in a statement.

“The incidents which are a flagrant violation of the rights of the activists occurred a day before a demonstration organised by various social movements and dubbed #MunhuWeseMuRoad.”ZPP called for the prosecution of perpetrators of rights violations.

“ZPP maintains that perpetrators of these heinous acts should be brought to book and citizens’ right to personal security must be respected.

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