May 31, 2019

NEW YORK (May 31, 2019) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the arrest of seven human rights activists in Zimbabwe for their participation in a non-violent activism workshop, and calls on the Zimbabwe government to release them immediately.

The activists were arrested beginning on May 20 in the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare, after returning from a workshop on nonviolent activism with the Center of Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategy (CANVAS), in the Maldives.

The activists are currently being held at Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare. Their names are: George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, Stabile Dewa, and Rita Nyampinga

“Under Article 59 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution, every person has the fundamental right to ‘demonstrate peacefully,’ so these arrests for attending a workshop that teaches peaceful activism are a clear violation of these activists’ constitutional rights,” said Javier El-Hage, HRF’s Chief Legal Officer. “The arrests are also wrongful and arbitrary under Articles 19 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which calls on governments to protect their citizens’ rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression, and which was ratified by Zimbabwe in 1991.”

The activists are being charged with subversion for participating on a workshop on peaceful movement building by CANVAS in May. The content of the workshop included non-violent tools and tactics for civic engagement, such as building unity through articulating a strong vision and utilizing different methods for effective communication.

“By arresting activists and human rights defenders, our government is effectively strangling our nation’s democracy,” said Evan Mawarire, civil rights activist, pastor, and leader of the #ThisFlag movement. “We must not allow the criminalization of exercising constitutional rights.”

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

For press inquiries, contact media@hrf.org