Human rights: Amnesty: Zimbabwe takes action against critics ahead of elections

According to the human rights organization Amnesty International, the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe will take place in a climate of systematic and brutal repression.

Human rights: Amnesty: Zimbabwe takes action against critics ahead of elections

According to the human rights organization Amnesty International, the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe will take place in a climate of systematic and brutal repression. President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government is restricting peaceful opposition gatherings, violently repressing protests and criminalizing critics, the organization said today.

The 16-million-inhabitant country in southern Africa, which has been in a deep economic crisis for decades, will elect a president and a parliament on August 23. Mnangagwa, 80, is seeking a second five-year term.

Amnesty said the government responded to criticism from journalists, members of the opposition, human rights activists and other citizens with intimidation, arrests and violence. A "Patriotic Law" signed by Mnangagwa in mid-July criminalizes dissenting opinions even more systematically, it said.

Dozens of government critics arrested

Dozens of government critics and demonstrators have been arrested in Zimbabwe since the beginning of the year. These include the prominent journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, who uncovered a multi-million dollar corruption case related to the corona pandemic, the activist Jacob Ngarivhume, who called for a nationwide anti-corruption protest, and the author and peace prize winner Tsitsi Dangarembga, who advocated the reform more corrupt Institutions in Zimbabwe demonstrated.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the umbrella organization Zimbabwe Forum for Human Rights also warn of oppression of the opposition and civil society in Zimbabwe. In January, the government had already revoked the registration of almost 300 civil society organizations, meaning that they can no longer operate in Zimbabwe.

The elections in June 2018 had already been overshadowed by violence and oppression. A day after the vote, which Mnangagwa won, soldiers fired hard ammunition at protesters who accused the ruling party of electoral fraud. Six people died and 35 others were injured.

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