Amnesty international group 168 in Charleston, South Carolina in the United States of America has organized a protest in solidarity with abducted human rights activist Itai Dzamara and his brother Dr Patson Dzamara who was recently brutally assaulted by Zimbabwe’s state security agents.
Coordinator of Amnesty International Group 168 Charleston, Anna Shockley told VOA Studio 7 that the Dzamara case has touched many people in South Carolina. “The reason we chose this case, it seems so urgent. It seems so terrible to have not had your husband, to not know what’s going on with your husband whether he is living or dead, where he is, whether he is being tortured. We just wanted to try to help find a resolution to that.” Itai Dzamara disappeared in March last year after he was bundled into a car by five unidentified men in the high density suburb of Glenview, Harare. Dzamara was known for activism and for campaigning to improve human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe. Dzamara also called on Mr Mugabe, the world's oldest president to step down accusing him of taking Zimbabwe to the edge of the precipice.
Itai Dzamara's wife, Sheffra, seen here with her brother-in-law Patson Dzamara and family attorney.
Shockley says her group has also been sending letters to President Robert Mugabe, Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo and the Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri. Mr Mugabe and his officials though have not responded to the letters. A solidarity letter has also been written to Itai Dzamara’s wife Sheffra.
State security agents punched and beat Dr 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 Mugabe on 18 April at Harare’s National Sports Stadium.
Dr 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.
South Carolina, Amnesty International protest
Mrs Shockley is urging people to take pictures holding placards with the same message Dr Dzamara was holding when he was assaulted. Dr Dzamara tells Studio 7 that he is humbled by the gesture , "I can't believe this...Zimbabwe where are you? I could not help bu shed a tear when I saw the photos. I do not even know any of those people but there are, standing in solidarity with me, asking about my brother Itai."
Dr Dzamara urged Zimbabweans to emulate the people of South Carolina. "At the same time, I can't help but ask where most Zimbabweans are? Zimbabwe where are you? Am I supposed to be standing alone or with only a few individuals fighting for justice and setting precedence regarding enforced disappearances in Zimbabwe?", Dzamara said.
The government of Mr Mugabe has been accused by human rights groups of running a regime of repression, corruption, starvation and torture with impunity.
But Mr Mugabe has dismissed the allegations saying he is being targeted by the West for embarking on a land reform exercise in 2000, seizing land from the minority whites and redistributing it to the majority blacks.
But most Zimbabweans argue that the land was parceled to Mr Mugabe's cronies. Mr Mugabe himself has admitted he blundered by giving ill-equipped black farmers vast tracts of farmland now lying idle.
Shockley urged those who want to send protest pictures to send them to her email address email@example.com