Written by Enock Balakasi
Rights Group, Amnesty International, has condemned the arrest of activists Gift Trapence and McDonald Sembereka.
Trapence – Vice Chairman of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRD) – and Sembereka who is a coalition member were arrested on Tuesday for fraud and operating an unregistered organisation.
Their arrest however came days after post-election demonstrations organized the HRDC.
In response to the arrest, Amnesty said the charges are a ploy to harass and intimidate the two activists and force them to end the ongoing post-election demonstrations.
“Malawian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release them and stop clamping down on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.“Organizing and participating in peaceful protests is not a crime. Authorities must stop targeting dissenting voices and using politically motivated charges to suppress differing views.
The rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association must be fully respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled in Malawi,” Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa said.
HRDC last week organized nationwide demonstrations aimed at forcing Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah to resign.The protests however turned violent as protesters looted shops and offices, burned tyres and engaged in running battles with the police
President Peter Mutharika who won the elections said last week that the protesters wanted to make Malawi a “lawless state”.