Tanzania: Systematic restrictions on fundamental freedoms in the run-up to national elections

In a letter released today, over 65 civil society organisations highlight systematic restrictions on fundamental freedoms in the run-up to the 28 October 2020 national elections in Tanzania. 

The signatories are deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of democracy, human rights and rule of law in the United Republic of Tanzania. “In the past five years, we have documented the steady decline of the country into a state of repression, evidenced by the increased harassment, intimidation, prosecution and persecution of political activists, human rights defenders (HRDs), journalists and media houses; the enactment of restrictive laws; and disregard for rule of law, constitutionalism, as well as regional and international human rights standards. We are deeply concerned that the situation has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic and as the country heads for general elections on 28 October 2020,” they write. 

The letter outlines restrictions independent and critical voices have been facing in Tanzania, echoing concerns raised by African and international human rights bodies and actors. 

“We call on Tanzania to heed the messages delivered by national, African, and international actors and to change course before the country enters a full-fledged human rights crisis, with potentially grave domestic and regional consequences,” the letter concludes. 

 

Read the full letter in English (Swahili version). 

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Human Rights Defender of the Month: Anny Kapenga

As a young student, Anny Kapenga used to cringe at the cult-like worship of Mobutu Sese Seko, the then Zaire’s President. By then, in the early 1990s, Zaire was still under one party rule, and calls were increasing for Mobutu to open political space to allow other parties to operate. In the meantime, however, all Zairians were expected to show affection for Mobutu wherever they gathered in public.

Students across Zaire’s schools were required to sing and dance adoringly before his (Mobutu)’s portrait every morning before they went to class, and all school scholastic materials were emblemed with his portrait. A young Anny never really appreciated the obsession:

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