Amnesty International on Friday called on Tanzanian authorities to launch “a prompt, thorough and independent investigation” into allegations of “unlawful killings and torture of opposition members and supporters arrested and arbitrarily detained” following the October 28 elections.
According to Tanzanian human rights monitors and lawyers representing political opposition parties, security forces have arbitrarily arrested more than 300 people across the country since the election took place.
Those who were arrested and released include Tanzanian opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu, Zanzibar opposition presidential candidate, Seif Sharif Hamad, and other opposition leaders, Zitto Kabwe, Freeman Mbowe, Godbless lema, Lazaro Nyalandu, Isaya Mwita, Boniface Jacob, Nassor Mazrui and Ayoub Bakari.
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Tundu Lissu and Godbless Lema are among the politicians that have fled the country.
Members of civil society and opposition groups have accused security forces of indiscriminately using excessive force, including live ammunition, and allegedly killing at least 22 people. According to lawyers acting for opposition parties, at least 77 opposition leaders and supporters have also been arbitrarily detained since election day.
“We have seen an escalation in human rights violations in the aftermath of the elections last month. What we have seen in Tanzania, post-election, intended to suppress dissent. Criticizing the conduct of an election is not a crime. All those still arbitrarily detained should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
“The Tanzanian authorities must immediately launch independent, impartial and thorough investigations into all allegations of killings and torture and hold all suspected perpetrators to account. They must also protect rather than violate Tanzanians’ rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”
On October 31, Zanzibar’s police commissioner, Mohamed Haji Hassan, confirmed that police were holding 33 people, including the deputy secretary general of opposition ACT-Wazalendo, Nassor Mazrui. Lawyers representing detainees reported that most of those arrested have not been formally charged or had no evidence presented to back up terrorism allegations against them which appear to be trumped up.
Still in Zanzibar, 18 people were released from detention centers and dumped in various locations in the early hours of November 13, according to information provided by some of the released detainees corroborated by lawyers.