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US says ‘monitoring’ Evan Mawarire’s trial, orders govt to end arbitrary arrests

23/09/2017 00:00:00
by Staff reporter
 
 
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THE US has said it is monitoring the trial of Pastor Evan Mawarire telling Harare to end arbitrary arrests and intimidation of innocent civilians for political purposes.

The statement came as the trial of Mawarire on charges of misconduct and inciting a crowd to cause violence commenced last Tuesday.

According to the state, Mawarire, who is being charged together with Ocean Chiota, allegedly addressed University of Zimbabwe students who were protesting over a fees hike in July.

But the Donald Trump administration said President Robert Mugabe’s government must reform and uphold fundamental freedoms.

“The United States is monitoring the trial of Pastor Evan Mawarire, and calls for an end to arbitrary arrests and intimidation for political purposes,” said the US embassy in a statement this Friday.

It added, “We support freedom of expression and the right of peaceful assembly. We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to respect and to protect the human rights of all persons in Zimbabwe, consistent with international human rights norms.”

Mawarire rose to fame through his campaign dubbed #ThisFlag launched in 2016. His trial will continue on September 28, three days after he would have appeared before the courts on a separate charge of trying to remove government.

The charge follows the launch of his social media campaign criticising the deplorable living conditions Mugabe’s government has created for Zimbabweans.

The videos sparked a series of street protests and a business shut-down prompting government to ban demonstrations and leading to his subsequent arrest.

Once released on bail, Mawarire fled to South Africa then America only to be re-arrested on his return this February. He has been awaiting trial out of custody.



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