- Title: U.N. urges Zimbabwe to stop crackdown on peaceful protesters
- Date: 16th August 2019
- Summary: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (AUGUST 16, 2019) (REUTERS) U.N. REGULAR NEWS BRIEFING ONGOING (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCY (OHCHR) SPOKESMAN, RUPERT COLVILLE, SAYING: "With opposition demonstrations still likely to take place in Zimbabwe in the near future, we urge the government to find ways to continuously engage with the population about their legitimate grievances on the economic situation, and to stop cracking down on peaceful protesters." U.N. STAFF AND JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCY (OHCHR) SPOKESMAN, RUPERT COLVILLE, SAYING: "State authorities have a duty to ensure people's rights to freedom of expression, and to facilitate and protect the right to peaceful assembly. In addition we urge the senate, when reviewing the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill, which is passing through the parliament now, we urge them to protect the essential democratic freedoms of peaceful assembly and demonstration, by ensuring the bill's compliance with the Zimbabwean constitution, with the decisions of the Constitutional Court, and with international human rights standards." U.N. STAFF AND JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCY (OHCHR) SPOKESMAN, RUPERT COLVILLE, SAYING: "We are deeply concerned by the socio-economic crisis that continues to unfold in Zimbabwe." U.N. STAFF AND JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCY (OHCHR) SPOKESMAN, RUPERT COLVILLE, SAYING: "Long-term neglect and structural deficiencies have contributed to hyper-inflation, resulting in soaring prices for fuel, food, transport, and health services, which is having a dramatic impact on the population and particularly on marginalized working class people. In fact, that key commodities and services have become less affordable for poor families means there is an increasing need for strong social protection measures. And around 5 million Zimbabweans, or one-third of the total population of some 16 million, are now estimated to be in need of humanitarian aid. That's a huge proportion."
- Embargoed: 30th August 2019 15:10
- Keywords: Zimbabwe protests UN right to assembly human rights protest crackdown
- Location: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- City: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Switzerland
- Topics: Fundamental Rights/Civil Liberties,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA002ASGXIKN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The United Nations on Friday (August 16) urged Zimbabwe not to crackdown on peaceful protesters, after Zimbabwean police fired tear gas and beat up more than a 100 opposition supporters with batons moments earlier, after they defied a protest ban in central Harare, according to witnesses.
Zimbabwe police combed Harare's streets rounding up suspected opposition supporters, enforcing a clampdown on dissent after using water cannon to break up a protest that authorities had declared illegal.
In Geneva, a spokesman for the U.N. Human Rights agency, Rupert Colville, urged the authorities not to crackdown on peaceful protesters and to ensure that people's right to freedom of expression is respected.
Colville said that ahead of the planned protest, there had been worrying reports of threats against people who wanted to participate in demonstrations and protests about the current economic situation. There had also been reports of surveillance of such people, and also reports of attacks and arrests of prominent activists, and civil society leaders who were taking part in organizing today protests.
Friday's street demonstration was to have been the first in a nationwide series of protests organised by the main opposition Movement fro Democratic Change (MDC) party, which accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government of state-sponsored violence, corruption and economic mismanagement.
The gathering was banned by police on Thursday (August 15), and the MDC called the protest off early on Friday, after armed police barred access to the party's Harare offices and its court appeal against the ban failed, but more than 100 MDC supporters defied the order.
Anger is mounting as Zimbabweans grapple with triple-digit inflation, rolling power cuts and shortages of U.S. dollars, fuel and bread -- bringing back memories of the hyperinflation of a decade ago that forced the country to ditch its currency.
(Production: Marina Depetris)
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