Zimbabwe: Death threats against human rights defenders Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa

February 4, 2013

The pressure on human rights defenders in Zimbabwe is building in the run up to the referendum. Here is in short what happened to the leaders of two civil society organisations:

On 31 January 2013, approximately one hundred persons attended the community meeting organised by ZOYP (Zimbabwe Organization For Youth In Politics)  and CCDZ (Centre for Conflict Development in Zimbabwe) in the Mbizo Youth Centre in Kwekwe to discuss developments in the drafting of the country’s new Constitution, including the bill of rights, before the draft is put to a referendum. During the meeting, which had been sanctioned by local police under the Public Order and Security Act, an armed group of hundreds of youths, reportedly affiliated to the ruling party ZANU PF and who identify themselves as “Al Shabab”, violently disrupted the meeting and threatened the participants. [ The youths were reportedly transported to the venue by bus by ZANU PF Chairman of Mbizo, and were dressed in overalls with President Mugabe’s face at the back. The youths carried heavy sticks and sang ZANU PF slogans and songs about President Mugabe, stating that whoever tries to question the President “will die like a dog”.] Human rights newsletters, cameras and other materials were stolen. Police did not intervene to ensure the safety of participants, who fled the meeting in fear of their lives. Organisers of the meeting, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa were targeted and threatened with death by the youths, who told them that their human rights activism was an attempt to “change the regime” and that the ZANU PF-led government will eliminate them if they continued to organise similar meetings in Kwekwe.

Following threats from the youths to follow them home and fearing for their safety, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa (heads of ZOYP and CCDZ respectively) went into hiding and have not been able to return to their regular activities. They subsequently submitted a complaint to police. To date, no investigation has been initiated by police.

On 2 February 2013, Mr Nkosilathi Moyo and Mr Jasper Maposa, were subjected to threats to drop the charges. Around 11am, Nkosilathi Moyo received a phone call from an unidentified number threatening him and Jasper Maposa to drop the charges at the police. Later in the same day, around 3pm, Jasper Maposa received another call from an unidentified number, renewing earlier threats and saying he was “fighting a losing battle.”

By the way, Al Shabab in early January 2013 has already stated that no civil society organisation or human rights defender would be allowed to operate in Kwekwe as they were “agents of regime change”. ZOYP has been subjected to previous acts of intimidation and harassment. One such example is a human rights defenders’ youth meeting, which was organised by ZOYP and held in Kwekwe Theatre on 16 November 2011. Although the meeting had been permitted by police, police and ZANU PF youths reportedly disrupted the meeting and presented ZOYP Director Nkosilathi Moyo with a trumped-up charge of defaming the state. Nkosilathi Moyo was subsequently sentenced to six months in prison. Furthermore, the offices of the organisation were raided in July 2011 and computers stolen. During the incident, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa were beaten and went into hiding. On 11 July 2011, a meeting organised with former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Ray, and young human rights defenders in Kwekwe was violently disrupted by Al Shabab, with the US envoy and ZOYP members fleeing for their lives.

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Front Line Defenders is concerned by the threatening phone calls against Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa and expresses grave concern at the failure of police to intervene and fulfil its duties to provide protection to the meeting’s participants.


2 Responses to “Zimbabwe: Death threats against human rights defenders Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa”

  1. […] Zimbabwe: Death threats against human rights defenders Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa (thoolen.wordpress.com) […]

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