MEDIA STATEMENT

28 June, 2017

Africans Rising Calls for the Immediate and Unconditional Release of Pastor Evan Mawarire

Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity condemns in the strongest termsthe arbitrary arrest of Zimbabwean activist Pastor Evan Mawarire, and other Zimbabweanswho face such repression for exercising their democratic right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

“We demand thatthe government of President Mugabe release Pastor Evan Mawarire immediately and unconditionally”, said Africans Rising Board Chair, Kumi Naidoo. “This is not simply an attack against one inspirational activist in one country, Zimbabwe.  This is an attack against all Africans who value justice, peace, human rights and dignity”.

Mawarire was arrested on Monday, June 26th 2017while supporting and praying alongside with University of Zimbabwe medical students who were protesting the doubling of their student fees.

Mawarire, of the #ThisFlag social movement,has been an active and vocal critic of therepressive and undemocratic actions of the Mugabe regime.

Mawarire is currently on trial on separate charges of subversion and “insulting the national flag of Zimbabwe” for his online activism stemming from the #ThisFlag social movement.

Mawarire, and the #ThisFlag movementhelped lead the Africa-wide, decentralized launch of Africans Rising in Zimbabwe on Africa Liberation Day, 25 May 2017.This arbitrary arrest is clearly an attempt by the Mugabe regime to harass and intimidate Pastor Evan Mawarire and the #ThisFlag movement into stopping their crucial work of challenging regime’s undemocratic practices.

Said  Kumi Naidoo, Board Chair of Africans Rising: “Pastor Mawarire is one of us and his arrest, yet again, is an absolute violation of human rights. We condemn this impunity with which such acts are carried out in Zimbabwe in the strongest terms.”

Naidoowent on to say: “We demand for the immediate release of Pastor Evan Mawarire and pledge our solidarity and support for his importanthuman rights work.”

These acts speak to a larger issue apparent in countries in southern Africa and across the continent. In The Democratic Republic of Congo two leaders of the Congolese youth movement, Quatrieme Voie/Il Est Temps (The Fourth Way / It is Time), are being held by security forces without charge or cause in the capital, Kinshasa.

These arbitrary arrests and the trumped up charges of treason (in the case of Mawarire)amounts tocriminalizing the actions of those who exercise their right to protest and speak freely. These tactics of intimidation and coercion are unacceptable. As stated in ourfounding charter, The Kilimanjaro Declaration, Africans Rising is committed to working with and supporting all those who are working to expand space for civic and political action in their countries.

Africans Rising for Peace, Justice and Dignity

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