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Rights Commission blasts govt blocking of the internet, state brutality

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By Staff Reporter


THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has condemned government for blocking the internet and visiting brutalities on protesting citizens during the tempestuous three day national stay away triggered by a recent government increase on fuel prices.

In a statement, the country’s statutory rights body blamed government for contributing to citizen unrest through vague policy pronouncements issued under the much talked about austerity measures.

The group also urged government “not to violate citizens’ rights to information by blocking social media and internet services”.

This follows nearly five days of a government freeze on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube believed to have been used by protest organisers to cause mayhem.

The fuel hike announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa a week ago triggered wild protests among citizens who felt their government was dumping all the country’s economic liabilities on their shoulders while failing to invent workable solutions with available resources to remedy the crisis.

The protests have seen a crackdown on suspected protesters amid death, torture and dragnet arrests on some suspects.

Said the rights body, “The Commission urges law enforcement agents to protect people and property in line with their constitutional mandate and not to cause harm and loss of life to the protesting citizens.

“In this regard, the Commission has noted with concern the reports of loss of life and limb during the current demonstrations, attributed mainly to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

“The commission has also received reports of the security sector budging into people’s homes during the dead of night on Monday 14th January and early morning on Tuesday 15th January 2019, beating up people and forcing them to clear barricaded roads.

“As the commission, we are of the view that such heavy handedness on the part of the security sector does not solve our national problems but only helps to create resentment and anger amongst the citizens which in turn breeds the violence that we are currently experiencing.”

President Mnangagwa has defended the action by the armed forces saying no government would sit idle when citizens destroyed and looted property.