We, the Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Zimbabwe (BOCISCOZ), comprising the Botswana Council of Churches (BCC), the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO), the Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Botswana, condemn the recent arrest of human rights defender and President of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimababwe (ARTUZ), Mr Obert Masaraure. This arrest comes after the demand for better wages for teachers.
It is reported that Mr Obert Masaraure “was arrested on 14 June 2022 at the Harare Police Station where he had gone to report in fulfillment of his bail conditions related to an ongoing criminal case of treason for participating in a teachers’ protest,” However, upon reporting for that matter, Mr Obert Masaraure was detained and subsequently charged with the murder of the late Roy Issa, a human rights defender and member of the ARTUZ, who died in 2016. Mr Obert Masaraure is currently detained at Chikurubi Maximum prison while awaiting the hearing of his bail application.
BOCISCOZ acknowledges the statement by the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) which ‘strongly urges the authorities of Zimbabwe to immediately and unconditionally release and drop all charges against Obert Masaraure’. This is because his detention is arbitrary and only aimed at silencing him as a human rights defender. There is a regional civil society call for the Zimbabwean government to “refrain from unlawfully detaining and prosecuting human rights defenders, journalists and pro-democracy activists in the country as a means of intimidating them or discouraging them from doing their work; to recognize human rights defenders, journalists and pro-democracy actors as legitimate actors in the promotion of human rights, rule of law and democracy in Zimbabwe; and to guarantee an end to the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and civic space in line with regional and international instruments including the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.”
BOCISCOZ stands in solidarity with SAHRDN and remains opposed to and condemns the infringement of the rights of all, regardless of their political standing. No one should be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.
We appeal to the Zimbabwean government to take the lead in condemning and addressing acts of human rights violations to ensure that the rights of all are protected in accordance with local, regional and international human rights instruments. We also call upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ensure that there is protection of human rights in our region.
Source: Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Zimbabwe (BOCISCOZ)