Harare – The authorities in Zimbabwe “appear to be doing nothing to find Itai Dzamara”, an activist who was mysteriously abducted two months ago, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Friday.
Senior HRW researcher Dewa Mavhinga said that claims by Dzamara’s family that he had been threatened by state agents prior to his disappearance “are a red flag for Zimbabwe’s international allies to press the government to come clean about what happened to him”.
Former journalist Dzamara, 36, was abducted by unknown men from a barber shop in Harare on March 9. Despite a court order compelling Zimbabwe police to look for him, there has been no news of him since.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change and many critics of President Robert Mugabe’s government suspect that state security agents are behind his disappearance.
Before he was abducted, Dzamara had held some little-followed protests in central Harare’s Africa Unity Square calling on Mugabe, 91, to stand down. He was assaulted by police and ruling party supporters in 2014.
In the statement from HRW, Mavhinga said: “The Zimbabwean government should immediately establish Dzamara’s whereabouts, and ensure the protection of all his rights.
“Failure to do so would demonstrate to the world that Zimbabwe’s poor human rights record has not improved,” he said.
Supporters of Dzamara held a prayer meeting for him on Thursday in Harare’s central Anglican Cathedral.
Occupy Africa Unity Square, a group set up in support of Dzamara, said in a post to Facebook that Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, who led the prayers, had himself been receiving “harassing phonecalls”.
The group quoted the bishop as saying: “There are two possibilities. Either the government is complicit (in Dzamara’s disappearance), or it has lost control of the situation.”