Missing activist, Dzamara gets international recognition

Itai Dzamara called for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to resign

Harare – After being honoured in absentia as being the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) Overall Human Rights Defender of the Year 2015 at the Community Human Rights Defenders Awards (CHRDA), Itai Dzamara has been honoured again this time internationally.

On February 23, 2017, Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research with Amnesty International, revealed that Dzamara has been honoured among four human rights heroes with Lifetime Achievements recognition.

Dzamara, a Zimbabwean journalist and activist – who founded the Occupy Africa Unity Square Movement – was last publicly seen on the morning of March 9, 2015.

He was having a haircut at a barber shop in Glenview suburb in Harare moments before five unknown men, driving in a white Isuzu truck, and suspected to be state security agents took him.

No one afterwards, including his wife and two children, has seen him despite the High Court in Harare ruling that the State security institutions should look for him two years ago.

Dzamara gets the international honour alongside Berta Cáceres of Honduras, Narges Mohammadi of Iran, and Sirikan Charoensiri of Thailand.

Neistat said Zimbabweans under President Robert Mugabe have suffered human rights violations for a long time.

Celebrating the four activists at the time of the Oscar awards that happened in Los Angeles on February 26 , Neistat said Dzamara’s life resembled a movie script.

“If this were a movie, justice would have been done long ago,” said Neistat.

“Dzamara would have been returned to his wife and children, and the men who abducted him held accountable.

“But this isn’t Hollywood. This is Zimbabwe, where basic rights and freedoms have been trampled on throughout the long years of Robert Mugabe’s reign.”

The missing journalist’s brother, Patson – who is now an activist after Itai’s abduction – has told Zimbabwean media that there are plans to film a documentary in his owner.

Dzamara criticised the government’s record, and particularly wrote a petition that he personally delivered at the office of the president, before his forced disappearance.

ZimRights congratulates Dzamara in absentia on his achievements as a human rights hero, and repeats its position that the State must follow the High Court ruling of March 2015, which tasked the security institutions to find and release him from his captors.

A few days from now, on March 9, the country will be marking the second anniversary of the sad and condemnable happening of Itai’s abduction.

It is unfortunate remainder of how ordinary Zimbabweans live in fear and personal insecurity as a result of gross human rights violations.

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