Saturday , March 6 2021

The shepherd of Zimbabwe released on bail says hundreds of prisoners need help

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP): A shepherd and activist from Zimbabwe charged with subversion was released on bail after more than a week on Wednesday and said he needs a doctor, just like hundreds of people who are still at the prison with bruising wounds by the security forces.

Evan Mawarire was released after night, one of more than 1000 people detained in a government crackdown on protests over the country's shattered economy. He faces 20 years in prison if he is convicted.

Wrapped in the national flag and carrying a Bible, he told reporters that the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa behaves like that of former leader Robert Mugabe.

"Once again we have to run and hide. The heart is broken," said Mawarire. "It was closed with more than 300 young people, whose members were broken after being beaten by soldiers and policemen. It is a tragedy, it's a pity. There are 16 years that have been closed."

The pastor did not give details about his own health, but called the conditions inside the prison "obviously not the best." It was not clear if people who were on the outskirts of the capital, Harare, received any type of medical attention.

Lawyers have said that people have been threatened in the country's prisons and were subjected to "mass judgments," as repression began in protests against a dramatic rise in fuel prices that made gasoline in Zimbabwe be the most expensive in the world.

Doctors have said 12 people died in repression and more than 300 injured, scores with bullet sounds. Human rights activists say that women have been raped, and the US Embassy on Tuesday told supporters of rape survivors, urging authorities to investigate and comment: "Political and sexual violence is unfair and eroded the democratic progress ".

The Zimbabwean authorities have diverted allegations against security forces, blame "fake elements" in stolen uniforms and claim that the political opposition is the cause of discomfort.

The hopes of reform under Mnangagwa, who took office at the end of 2017 after the separation of their Mugabe mentor, have evaporated for many Zimbabweans. Thousands have ended up encouraging the military during the march of Mugabe, but since then the soldiers have been deployed with deadly results.

The scenes of the last two weeks make it even harder for Mnangagwa to attract foreign investment and other aid that is needed to rebuild the collapsed economy.

Mawarire, accused of inciting online violence, denied that he wanted to overthrow the government, but said he would continue to "fight" by the authorities to fix the country.

"All Zimbabweans have no choice but to continue the fight," he said. "We will fight for our nation. We are forced to fight. We have no choice for us."


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