Southern Defenders join the rest of the world to celebrate the International Human Rights Days. We take this opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building the Southern Africa we want, with global solidarity, interconnectedness and shared humanity. We are inspired by this year’s theme: EQUALITY – Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights and we salute all the frontline human rights defenders who have provided a shield of protection to citizens and pro-democracy activists at risk in Southern Africa and beyond. We are encouraged by the sacrifice, resilience and tenacity in the debilitating new wave of authoritarianism and inequality amid the omnipresent Covid-19.
We call on the authorities in Southern Africa to respect, promote and protect all international recognised and constitutionally guaranteed human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as but not limited to freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. We urge the governments in the region to safeguard the online and offline civic, democratic and civil society space. A country that respects human rights has better prospects of engineering inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
As the 16 days of activism against GBV comes to an end, Southern Defenders reiterate that womxn rights are human rights. The ladder of opportunities is still lopsided in favor of men. We need all hands on deck to spur the much-needed radical transformation and achieve a balance of forces. And respecting all human rights for all is a concrete step forward. The leaders in Southern Africa and beyond should demonstrate the political will to foster a culture of human rights in their respective countries. This is also time to move from survival rights to free expression rights. Our people deserve the full menu of rights.
We also take this opportunity to celebrate the life of a lodestar in human rights defending, the late Dewa Mavhinga who untimely passed on December 4th. We will do everything within our means to ensure his legacy lives on.
Another Cabo Delgado is possible, Another Nampula is possible, Another Tete is possible, Another Zimbabwe is possible and indeed another Swaziland is possible.
Together We Defend!!