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Amnesty urges Zimbabwe to reveal fate of activist

Amnesty International renewed Friday its call for Zimbabwean authorities to help reveal the fate of a critic of former President Robert Mogabe’s policies.

“Itai Dzamara is a well-known activist and had been a vocal critic of Robert Mugabe before he was abducted from a barbershop on 9 March 2015. He has not been heard from since,” the group said in a statement.

Amnesty accused Zimbabwean authorities at the time of his abduction of standing behind Dzamara’s disappearance.

“Amnesty International believes he has been forcibly disappeared as a result of his activism and outspoken criticism of the government,” the statement read.

“Imagine not being able to tell your children if their father is alive or dead. Someone knows where Itai Dzamara is, but they have chosen to subject his family to five long years of uncertainty,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

The organization reported that Dzamara “had been repeatedly harassed and beaten up by Zimbabwe’s security forces,” before his disappearance.

“Amnesty International is calling on the government to set up an independent judge-led Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances around the abduction of Itai Dzamara, with powers to subpoena witnesses,” the statement read.

On his activities before his disappearance, Amnesty described Dzamara as “a well-known activist who had campaigned to improve accountability in Zimbabwe. He had called for former President Robert Mugabe to step down [after 36 years in rule at the time] and criticized his handling of Zimbabwe’s economy.”

Amnesty earlier expressed that governments around the world are consistently using enforced disappearances to secure power and silence opposition or critics, arguing to stop such policy.

Mugabe’s 37-year rule was widely criticized for human rights abuses, election rigging and destruction of Zimbabwe’s once flourishing economy.

He stepped down in 2017 following a military coup.

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