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"This is not Zimbabwe, people are not violent here"

08 August 2018

Sarah McCan, Trócaire Country Director for Zimbabwe, discusses the outbreak of violence live on RTÉ

A young Zimbabwean girl goes to fetch water. Hopes that elections in Zimbabwe would provide a political breakthrough to relieve the country's economic crisis are in doubt after violence following the elections.  Photo: Isabel Corthier

A young Zimbabwean girl goes to fetch water. Hopes that elections in Zimbabwe would provide a political breakthrough to relieve the country's economic crisis are in doubt after violence following the elections. Photo: Isabel Corthier

Hopes that the first elections in Zimbabwe without Mugabe on the ballot would pass off peacefully have been dashed.

The Zimbabwe armed forces have shot dead six demonstrators in Harare using live ammunition. This was following elections which have been disputed by the opposition.

On the ground, in the capital Harare, is Trócaire's Sarah McCan. She spoke to RTÉ's Morning Ireland this week about the situation.

Sarah described the situation as "really upsetting and tragic for Zimbabwe. This is not Zimbabwe, people are not violent here".

She adds that "people are really fearful" and that "protestors have a right to protest and people are deeply frustrated".

Listen back to the full 4 minute RTÉ Morning Ireland interview here

Sarah was also interviewed on TippFM about the violence and also the need for respect for human rights and the healing that is needed in Zimbabwe to move forward and for the economy to recover.

Supporting peace and the rule of law

In Zimbabwe violations of human rights remain widespread.  There are ongoing restrictions on political opposition, civil society and the media.    

Trócaire supports the work of local partners to promote peace and achieve greater respect of human rights. For this election Trócaire supported local organisations to monitor the elections and whether they were free and fair. Reports are coming in that there was strong intimidation involved.

Local partner, the Zimbabwe Peace Project, are urging "political parties and the general public to desist from any forms of violence".

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, a local partner of Trócaire's has stated that "whilst not condoning the use of violence, the use of live ammunition on unarmed civilians was too extreme. Zimbabweans have a legitimate right to freedom of expression." 

Another partner, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, have also condemned the response of the armed forces. 

In a statement, they stated that the authorities "could have handled the situation in a restrained and reasonable manner without subjecting members of the public, media practitioners and innocent by-standers to arbitrary and unlawful acts such as harassment, assault, torture, other forms of cruel and inhuman treatment, loss of life, which are a violation of their fundamental rights". 

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights lawyers have successfully been able to secure the release of 27 people on bail arrested last week following the protests. 

Trócaire’s work in Zimbabwe aims to achieve stronger human rights protections, the development of sustainable and resilient livelihoods and women’s empowerment.

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