Tanzania: Stop The Prosecution Of Activists
Reposted: We, members of the Feminist Activist Coalition, comprising of over 40 civil society organisations promoting gender equity, social justice, human rights and the transformative feminist movement are outraged over the arrest of 16 activists on 9 February 2012 in Dar es Salaam and their subsequent indictment, purportedly for holding an unlawful assembly.
Among those arrested are staff from the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) including its, Executive Director Dr. Helen Kijo Bisimba, Anna Migila, Marcus Albany and Godfrey Mpandikizi; Ms Ananilea Nkya, Executive Director of the Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA); Mr Irenei Kiria, Executive Director of a health advocacy entity SIKIKA; staff and members of the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) including the Principal of Gender Training Instutute, Dr. Diana Mwiru, and Ms. Dorothy Mbilinyi, Senior Programme Officer, Gender Training Institute; Ms Anna Kikwa, Head of Programme Support Management, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP); and members from grassroots activists groups and networks including: Specioza Mwankina, Network of Disabled People Living with HIV/AIDS (NEDPHA); Esther Tibaigana member of Tushikamane Women Group; Janeth Mawinza of Jipange Women Group and Mwanaidi Mkwanda from Community Care Group.
The activists were arbitrarily arrested at the main referral hospital in Tanzania, the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), as they were going to await the outcome of talks between the Prime Minister and public sector doctors who had been on strike for several weeks. A day earlier, over 200 activists and citizens staged a peaceful protest to denounce government inaction over the deaths of many Tanzanians who were being denied their right to decent health care following the country wide strike of medical workers over unresolved grievances.
The protest, convened by the Feminist Activist Coalition, Jukwaa la Katiba, Policy Forum, Legal and Human Rights Centre and many other organisations attracted wide media attention in view of the fact that it took place on a major route used by most political and government leaders and blocked traffic for about two hours.
The arrests and charges against the activists are shameful and unlawful considering that the activists were exercising their constitutional right to free expression (Art 18); and were defending the right to life (Art.14) of fellow Tanzanians who were needlessly denied emergency and lifesaving care.
We the undersigned collectively express our dissatisfaction over the actions of the Tanzanian Police Force and the Government in the overall handling of this affair. Please write, call or email:
i) Prime Minister: Tel.: +255 22 2111249/50/51/52; Fax: +255 22 2117266; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
ii) Inspector General of the Police: Tel: +255 22 2113461; Fax: +255 22 2136556; Email: email@example.com; Website: www.police.go.tz
iii) Director of Public Prosecution: Tel: +255 22 2113626/2133315
iv) Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs: Tel: +255 22 2137833, Fax: +255 22 2137831, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
v) Regional Crime (RCO): Tel: +255 (784) (0754) (0777) (0713) 377 425
1. The immediate cessation of any manner of prosecution against all those detained and charged for protesting against government inaction.
2. That the Government of the United Republic as well as its organs desist from any acts of harassment or intimidation against citizens who seek to demand and enforce their rights since doing so is undemocratic and in violation of the constitutional principles of freedom and human rights; and
3. That the government apologizes to the Tanzanian population for putting the citizenry at risk because of its failure to act and meet its obligations towards its employees.
Issued by FemAct and Signed by:
Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), FemAct Secretariat