HRDC condemns violence against anti-government protestors

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has strongly condemned acts of violence that occurred during two different protests in Limbe on Wednesday and Blantyre on Thursday.

On both days, separate groups countered anti-government protestors resulting in violence at both events.

There was even teargas fired at the Bon Kalindo-driven protests in downtown Blantyre as the Police attempted to disperse the warring factions.

Trapence: Condemns violence

In an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, HRDC chairperson, Gift Trapence said violence has no place in Malawi’s democracy.

“Citizens should know that peaceful demonstrations are a constitutional right as such everyone is supposed to enjoy such rights. HRDC believes in democracy and no citizen should be prevented from enjoying the right to peacefully demonstrate.

“HRDC calls for the police to investigate the violence and also make sure to provide enough security during demonstrations,” said HRDC national chairman Gift Trapence.

He further urged demonstrators to also follow the right procedures when demonstrating.

Chaos in Blantyre

“This allows security agents ample time for proper planning on safety and security issues,” he said, further calling on the Police to practise professionalism and impartiality in discharging their duties.

“The real test of every democracy lies in the manner in which the State promotes and protects civil liberties, chief among which is the freedom to express oneself. So it is crucial for state agencies to ensure that civil liberties are protected,” he said.

Following the disputed general elections in 2019, HRDC mobilised thousands of Malawians onto the streets in sustained protests where they called for the dissolution of the Malawi Electoral Commission as well as fresh elections.

In 2019 when election fraud ignited the anger of everyday Malawians, HRDC stepped in to unite activists and citizens across the country, mobilising calls for greater accountability, and using litigation strategies to protect the freedom of assembly.

This instance of electoral fraud was indicative of how corruption was negatively impacting the fair functioning of government, and in turn the enabling environment for civil society.

Meanwhile, HRDC’s experience demonstrates the blurred line between the struggle to defend what can often be thought of as ‘neutral’ space and the need for civil society to be ‘politically’ engaged, along with the ways in which corruption and civic space are intimately linked.

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