SouthernDefenders strongly condemn the use of excessive force or violence against peaceful protesters who were celebrating the life and legacy of HRD and rapper icon Azagala in Maputo.
Johannesburg | Maputo
March 18, 2023
The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SouthernDefenders) calls on the authorities in Mozambique to uphold its constitution, respect the rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens and strongly condemn the anti-riot police’s excessive use of force to repeal an authorized march to celebrate life and legacy of rapper icon Azagala who died on the 9th of March 2023. He was a social activist who used music to denounce corruption and impunity. The police disrupted the procession of his funeral on the 14th of March which resulted in several people failing to attend.
As a way of showing tribute to the fallen HRD and rapper, the citizens engaged in a peaceful protest on the 18th of March in Maputo, in which the anti-riot police responded by unleashing excessive force in the form of teargas, rubber and live bullets on peaceful citizens. There were mass arrests and other protesters harassed and assaulted.
“Brutality, teargas to repeal young people with the authorization to gather and celebrate life, the legacy of rapper icon #Azagaia! This is unacceptable.” tweeted Prof. Adriano Nuvunga, SouthernDefenders’ Vice-Chairperson.
SouthernDefenders is gravely concerned about the brutal assault and violence against peaceful active citizens in Mozambique as this signifies a serious deterioration of fundamental freedoms whilst showing clear signs of authoritarianism. These acts constitute a violation of the rights of the people of Mozambique to assemble peacefully as enshrined in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 20. Further, according to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration, “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression….”
The excessive use of force is therefore in contradiction with the Constitution of Mozambique which states in Article 40 that, “all citizens have the right to life and to physical integrity and they shall not be subjected to torture or to cruel inhuman treatment……”
SouthernDefenders therefore strongly urges the authorities in Mozambique to:
- Respect the human rights and freedoms of its citizens, including the right to peaceful protest.
- Refrain from using excessive force or violence against peaceful protesters.
- Provide a transparent and fair investigation into any allegations of human rights abuses.
- Ensure that law enforcement officers are held accountable for any unlawful use of force.
- Engage in constructive dialogue with protesters to address their concerns and find peaceful solutions to any issues.