'Dzamara's unending abduction worrying'

HARARE - Today marks 54 days since the disappearance of human rights activist and journalist, Itai Dzamara, with law enforcement agents continuing to profess ignorance over his whereabouts.

Dzamara was abducted by yet unidentified men which his family believe are from the feared State agents close to his Glen View home.

Since his abduction on March 9, people have been falsely claiming discoveries of his body giving rise to speculation that his abductors could have murdered him.

Rashid Mahiya, Heal Zimbabwe Trust executive director, said government’s silence on Dzamara’s absence raised suspicion that the State was responsible, with insecurity rising among human rights defenders.

“Itai Dzamara’s disappearance raises a distressing sense of insecurity among many human rights defenders in the country. The government’s silence vindicates speculation that its security agencies are responsible for Itai’s abduction and disappearance,” Mahiya said.

He said this was perpetuated further by the fact that the State had a record of abducting its citizens, and urged government to account for Dzamara’s disappearance.

“In addition, the State has a presence of abducting citizens, active opposition and human rights leaders and activists, some of whom disappeared and were never found while others were later discovered in police custody. Jestina Mukoko was abducted in 2008 and later discovered in police custody after 21 days while persons like Tonderai Ndira, Betha Chokururama were found dead,” Mahiya said.

“Under these circumstances, Heal Zimbabwe calls for the State to account for Itai Dzamara’s disappearance and provide explanation to the citizens. Its continued silence is deliberately calculated to instil fear and trepidation on human rights activists and citizens in general,” he said.

The European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe, which previously indicated that it was important for Dzamara to be found especially during the time Zimbabwe is re-engaging with the block, yesterday reminded people that the human rights fighter should never be forgotten, calling for his return.

“While we all enjoy #‎HIFA2015 at the moment (and rightly so!), we mustn’t forget that Itai #‎Dzamara has been missing for more than 50 days. #‎BringItaihome,” the delegation said in a statement on its Facebook page.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the truth about Dzamara’s disappearance should be revealed so that the perpetrators face their judgment.

“We remain greatly concerned about Dzamara’s disappearance, and we are increasingly worried that more than a month has elapsed, the government should take tangible measures to ensure the truth about Dzamara’s whereabouts is revealed,”  Kumbirai Mafunda, ZHLR spokesperson said.

“Those responsible for this serious human right abuse should be held accountable,” he said.

Mafunda said once Dzamara is found the full reasons for his abduction, identity of his abductors and any relevant information should be revealed, so that he can make informed decisions about the course of action to take.

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