"Wave of Violence" on Election Mismanagement and Police Brutality in Zanzibar

01/06/2001
Report

Today, the International Federation for Human Rights and the Legal and Human Rights Centre launch their report "Wave of Violence" on Election Mismanagement and Police Brutality in Zanzibar

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its Tanzanian members, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), are most concerned about the election mismanagement and the serious human rights violations, in particular police brutality, in Zanzibar. "Wave of Violence" is a joint report of FIDH and LHRC, which documents in detail the events of October 2000 and January 2001, urging the State to immediately establish an independent commission of inquiry into the violations.
In response to the FIDH statement on these violations at the UN Commission on Human Rights in April 2001, the government of Tanzania stated that there was no need for such an investigation, admitting only to the loss of a few lives due to the police, and that the Civil United Front (CUF) demonstrators were all armed.
In October 2000, the world witnessed heavily armed policemen beating citizens in Zanzibar during the general elections. A victory of the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), was declared amidst unprecedented irregularities in polling exercise, prompting internal and external electoral observers to recommend a re-run of the whole election. On 27 January 2001, CUF, the strongest opposition party in Zanzibar, responded to the election mismanagement with peaceful demonstrations, despite the government having banned these. Invoking guarantees for the rights of expression and assembly under articles 18 and 20 of the country’s constitution, CUF members defied the state ban. This led to further police violence, and more that 37 demonstrators were shot dead, and many tortured, detained and raped in Zanzibar and in the neighbouring island Pemba.
The LHRC, in collaboration with FIDH, sent a fact finding mission to Zanzibar and Pemba between 9 - 17 January 2001 and 16 - 23 February 2001. The mission interviewed eye witnesses of demonstrations, politicians, police officials, and other residents in both islands. The conduct of the 2000 general election is analyzed in comparison to the 1995 elections.
The report concludes that the police used unwarranted excessive force against CUF demonstrators. The report further finds that the 27 January massacre was followed by systematic harassment of CUF members, and the torture and rape of citizens in Pemba, which in turn led to the exodus of more than 2000 refugees from Pemba to Shimon area in Mombasa, Kenya. Moreover, the report observes with much concern that the police atrocities should also be blamed on the political authorities which the years have allowed the police to harass political dissidents. Equally strongly, the report criticizes the electoral law of Zanzibar for denying citizens their right to vote on a number of grounds, one being the requirement of the 5 years ordinary residence.
The report ends by making recommendations to the Union Government of Tanzania, the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, the Organization of African Unity, the United Nations and the European Union to play their respective roles in pushing for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry, to bring about truth and reconciliation among the disputing parties, to bring the perpetrators to justice and cease all human rights abuses, to ensure the democratization of the electoral process, to bring about constitutional reform, to ensure that the police respect human rights, and to compensate the victims.
The FIDH and the LHRC firmly believe that only once these measures are taken can there be lasting peace in Zanzibar, Pemba and mainland Tanzania.

Sidiki Kaba
President FIDH

Helen Kijo-Bisimba
Executive DirectorLHRC

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