Press Release — Zimbabwe Releases Activist from Illegal Detention — But Will Not Drop Charges

NEW YORK — Human Rights Foundation (HRF) welcomes the release of #ThisFlag movement founder Evan Mawarire in Zimbabwe, and asks the government to drop all charges against him.

NEW YORK — Human Rights Foundation (HRF) welcomes the release of #ThisFlag movement founder Evan Mawarire in Zimbabwe, and asks the government to drop all charges against him. The Harare High Court ordered Mawarire to be released subject to a $300 bond, the surrender of his passport, and the obligation to report twice a week to the police. Mawarire was detained last Wednesday at Harare International Airport and is being charged with “subverting constitutional government” and “insulting the flag” for his role in last year’s peaceful protests in Zimbabwe. He is expected to appear in court next week, on February 17.

“Mawarire is a peaceful protester. His only ‘weapon’ is his determination to shine a light on the darkness of Robert Mugabe’s 36-year-long rule,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “In a democracy, peaceful protests typically end with the demonstrators going home. But in Zimbabwe, anyone who dares to speak out is subject to a prosecutorial nightmare, and faces a 20-year prison sentence. Mugabe’s regime must stop arresting peaceful protesters and grant Zimbabweans freedom of speech. All charges against Mawarire should be dropped immediately,” he added.

Last year, Mawarire was arrested for “inciting public disorder” after he called for a general strike in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Those charges were eventually droppeddue to a procedural error in court.

Mawarire is confirmed to speak at the upcoming 2017 Oslo Freedom Forum, organized by HRF and taking place May 22-24.

Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

Contact: Prachi Vidwans, (212) 246-8486, prachi@hrf.org.

TAKE ACTION and CONTACT the Zimbabwean officials listed below to:

• Express to them the need for President Mugabe to drop all charges against Evan Mawarire; and

• Stress Evan Mawarire’s right to peacefully criticize Zimbabwe’s decades-old regime.

ZIMBABWEAN OFFICIALS:

• Frederick Makamure Masiiwa Shava, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe to the United Nations. Email: zimnewyork@gmail.com and zimbabwe@un.int;

• Jacob Francis Mudenda, Speaker of the National Assembly of Zimbabwe. Email: jfmudenda@gmail.com

• Edna Madzongwe, President of the Senate of Zimbabwe. Email: edna@palzim.gov.zw

Please let us know if you took action. CC your communication to: info@hrf.org.

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