Conviction of Tsitsi Dangarembga Is a ‘Travesty of Justice’

  • Author Tsitsi Dangarembga and Julie Barnes convicted for protesting economic hardship
  • They were handed a six-month suspended sentence for participating in the 31 July 2020 protest against economic hardship

Responding to news that Zimbabwean author and activist Tsitsi Dangarembga and fellow protester Julie Barnes were each convicted for “inciting violence”, Lucia Masuka, Amnesty International’s Zimbabwe Executive Director, said:

“The conviction of Tsitsi Dangarembga and Julie Barnes for fighting for political reforms and a better country for themselves and their fellow Zimbabweans is a travesty of justice.

“The conviction and sentence send a clear and chilling message that there is no space for dissenting views in Zimbabwe, and that anyone who dares to freely express themselves will face persecution. It is not a crime for people to exercise their right to protest peacefully.

“The Zimbabwean authorities must uphold the rule of law and create an environment where people like Dangarembga and Barnes can freely exercise their freedom of expression without any fear.

“Authorities must stop targeting opponents and critics with prosecution and long pre-trial detentions. They must end their relentless harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and activists who have done nothing other than to demand that the government deliver better services to the people of Zimbabwe.”

Right to protest

Tsitsi Dangarembga and Julie Barnes were arrested in July 2020 after they marched in the streets of Harare, holding banners demanding reforms of the country’s institutions. They were later released on bail and their trial has been ongoing for over two years until they were convicted on 29 September.

The right to protest is under threat across all regions of the world. Amnesty’s new global campaign “Protect the Protest” is challenging attacks on peaceful protest, standing with those targeted and supporting the causes of social movements demanding human rights change.

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