Home MALAWI ​​​Amnesty warns President Arthur Mutharika's police force escalating crackdown ahead of Malawi...

​​​Amnesty warns President Arthur Mutharika’s police force escalating crackdown ahead of Malawi election rerun Updated for 2021

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Updated: February 25, 2021

Amnesty International warned on Monday that Malawian authorities have mounted a crackdown on dissent ahead of the general election rerun on 19 May.

Authorities on Sunday arrested two prominent human rights activists Gift Trapence and Reverend McDonald Sembereka, who have been vocal critics of last year’s election.

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Both have been in police custody since Sunday after they were arrested in Lilongwe on 8 March for threatening to march to the State House.

An arrest warrant has been issued against a third activist, Timothy Mtambo. The activists are linked with a local Non-Governmental Organization, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).

“The arrests of Gift Trapence and Reverend McDonald Sembereka are deeply troubling, coming amidst the highly charged political environment ahead of the election rerun. Many human rights defenders have been subjected to threats, including by President Arthur Mutharika,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

“Malawi authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the detained activists. The authorities must stop threatening, harassing and intimidating human rights defenders and allow them to freely exercise their rights.”

Amnesty said the activists have been leading national protests against last year’s election, which was subsequently nullified by the court. The country is now headed for another vote on 19 May, following a court order.

Amnesty said the three men have been targeted for mobilising people to protest against the election. In August 2019, Timothy Mtambo narrowly escaped harm after three petrol bombs were thrown into his compound. One hit and torched his car, while the second was thrown at the gate and the third narrowly missed his house.

“The latest arrests are part of a well-orchestrated campaign aimed at intimidating and harassing activists. It sends the chilling message that they will be punished for exercising their human rights,” said Deprose Muchena.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

6 COMMENTS

  1. All those people commenting above most of them are DPP Cadet, full of blood people who don’t care about the country…. DPP have been killing people with Albinism and the DPP gurus like Mtharika who’s called President himself was the first person to be mentioned and his two thugs….but nothing come out now. Now they’re busy arresting people who r fighting country’s freedom……. And the looting of shops during Demos r not demonstrators but DPP cadets in the name of Demonstration

  2. They have always been instruments against oppression, nepotism, corruption, tribalism, murder , the list is endless. They have publicly condemned people who break into shops or throw stones at others during their demos.
    I am from Malawi soil.
    •HRDC is not the one killing people with Albinism.
    •HRDC is not the one that killed Evison Matafale for critiquing an oppressive regime.
    •HRDC is not the one that killed Buleya Lule in police custody.
    •HRDC is not a leader that stole 145 million kwacha.
    •HRDC is not a government that pretended to buy maize for ADMARC depots for poor people to access during food shortages and yet the money went into people’s pockets.
    •HRDC is not the one that tried to shoot down democratic electro bills in parliament.
    •HRDC is not a government which is selling public land dubiously to non Malawian nationals
    •HRDC is not the one using governments property for political gain
    The list is endless
    But HRDC has always stood against such acts. We must not criticize elements of good governance simply because we belong to the same political party which simply take advantage of the poor uneducated voters to enrich themselves.
    This is time for change. Even a non scholar can node head in agreement.

  3. they’re not there as HRDC only.
    but they do robbe peoples properties.
    in lilongwe last year they spoiled and killed people .so me as one of malawi citizen i hv a rights to say ,they must lead jail life.they dont care about others life ,finaly they are not human rights deffenders .but they are Opposition party supporter who wants to spoil malawi and point finger governmet d.just imagine they burned shops in city by calling themseves as HRDC.apart from malawi which other country have HRDC team?

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