AMNESTY International says it is unfortunate that the election in Zimbabwe has descended into bloodshed.
Amnesty International acting secretary general Colm Ó Cuanacháin yesterday said by using live ammunition against unarmed protesters, the army had broken the very same rule of law that they should protect.
“It is unfortunate that this election has descended into bloodshed, which could have been avoided if security forces had exercised restraint against protesters. The army’s conduct should be promptly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice,” said Cuanacháin in a statement issued by Amnesty International Southern Africa media manager Robert Shivambu.
“The militarisation of the prevailing post-election environment is muzzling freedom of expression, association and assembly. People must be guaranteed their right to protest.”
He said the loss of life of people protesting for the release of the election results was totally unnecessary.
“They wanted to see how they had voted and Zimbabwean authorities had a duty to facilitate this in a peaceful manner, without deploying the army to the streets,” said Cuanacháin. “Media freedom must also be guaranteed and respected in this prevailing post-election environment. Journalists should not be intimidated for doing their work.”
And Shivambu stated that police had confirmed that three people were killed after soldiers fired live ammunition on fleeing people following post-election protests in Harare, with some of the injured and dead being shot from the back.
He stated that the army also ordered journalists covering riotous demonstrations to switch off their video recording equipment and cameras.
Shivambu stated that demonstrators were calling for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to expedite the release of the presidential election results after voting on 30 July.
“Firearms must never be used as a tool for containing violence by protesters. They may only be used in defence against an imminent threat of death or serious injury, in order to save another life,” stated Shivambu.