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  • Zimbabweans protest against the economic crisis in Warren Park, Zimbabwe, Jan. 15, 2019.

    Zimbabweans protest against the economic crisis in Warren Park, Zimbabwe, Jan. 15, 2019. | Photo: EFE file

Published 8 February 2019

Fuel price hikes have triggered several waves of protests in Zimbabwe since the fall of President Robert Mugabe in Nov. 2017.

Thursday Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) raised the number of extra-judicial killings to 17 in protests suppressed by security forces since Jan. 14.

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“The violations of human rights that started as the state’s response to mass protests on January 14, 2019, following the increase in fuel prices immediately took a widespread systematic character, the dominant actors being the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and suspected ZANU-PF militia,” the Forum wrote in a report entitled "In the Dark Days of Zimbabwe."

On Jan. 12, 2019, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the fuel prices would increase to US$3.11 per liter for diesel and US$3.31 per liter for petrol. Following this announcement, demonstrations began to explode across several cities in the country.

In response to the economic crisis prompted by fuel hikes, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and This Flag Movement called for a 3-day national strike from Jan. 14 to 16. In high-density suburbs of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, police repression against citizens became more violent, spurring a ‘de facto’ emergency state.

“In unclear circumstances, the Zimbabwe National Army was unlawfully deployed into the streets and residential areas where they unleashed a reign of terror on anyone they came across,” the Forum said and added that 1,803 cases of human rights violations are registered since Jan.14.

Since the state-led abuses are so serious and can be considered "crimes against humanity," the Forum appealed to the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help stop these violations.

Human rights defenders also noted that there have been 81 wounded by gunshots, 26 kidnappings by security agents, 16 women raped by the military and at least 586 attacks on other citizens, including beatings and dog attacks.

"Cases of assaults, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment at a shocking scale were witnessed, so that it is not possible to determine the real number," the Forum admitted.

However, Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Chief of Staff, Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, said that the Army has restored peace in the country and is ready to return to its barracks.

Additionally, the chief assured that allegations of rape and assault by soldiers are being investigated and they would be "arrested and disciplined" if found guilty.

President Mnangagwa called on opposition politicians to discuss the terms of a "national dialogue," a proposal that Nelson Chamisa, the main opposition leader, called "distraction" and refused to accept.

''Genuine dialogue can only take place when a conducive environment has been created for the same," Chamisa said and added that “in this respect the people of Zimbabwe and the Movement for Democratic Change call for an immediate cessation of all forms of violence against the people, including rape, killings, shootings, torture, abductions; and a genuine and transparent process to bring to book those responsible."

Fuel price hikes have triggered several waves of protests in Zimbabwe since the fall of President Robert Mugabe in Nov. 2017.

Since then, some 1,000 people were arrested after the start of the protests and a wave of looting in the two main cities of the country in southern Africa, Harare and Bulawayo.


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