The brutal assault by Zimbabwe’s state security agents on the brother of the abducted pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara must be urgently and impartially investigated and those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.
State security agents punched and beat Patson Dzamara with batons and later forced him to drink about four litres of water after he staged a peaceful demonstration at Independence Day celebrations attended by President Robert Mugabe on 18 April at Harare’s National Sports Stadium.
Patson Dzamara held up a placard reading “Independent but not free – where is my brother Itai” near a VIP tent when up to 10 security agents set upon him.
“The brutal attack on Patson Dzamara for simply lifting a placard is yet further evidence that the Zimbabwean government is prepared to lash out at anyone highlighting its appalling human rights record,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
“The irony that this happened on Independence Day will not be lost on people in Zimbabwe and is a blatant attempt to tighten the noose around freedom of expression. State security agents cannot be allowed to commit human rights violations with impunity.”
Itai Dzamara disappeared in March last year after he was bundled into a car by five unidentified men in Glenview, Harare. He has not been seen since. Despite repeated requests, the Zimbabwean government has failed to provide answers to the Dzamara family.
At the Harare Central Police Station Patson Dzamara was questioned by members of the Central Intelligence Organization and police officers from the Law and Order Section of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
He was released at around 6pm local time yesterday and was admitted at a private hospital in Harare for treatment.