Rights group demands release of Tanzanian opposition leaders


Amnesty International, a human rights organization, has urged Tanzanian authorities to cease targeting the opposition and to free all opposition members jailed in a single day on Wednesday.

“Tanzanian authorities must end escalating crackdown on opposition party and leaders.

All people seized in this operation must be immediately released unless the authorities have strong legal grounds to defend their actions,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes Region, Flavia Mwangovya, said in a statement.

The Tanzania Police Force must also account for Freeman Mbowe’s whereabouts and assure his safety and return, according to the report.

On Wednesday, opposition leader Freeman Mbowe and 11 other members of the Party of Democracy and Progress, also known as Chadema, were arbitrarily detained.

“Tanzanian authorities must stop targeting the opposition and trying to narrow the space they are able to operate in. These arbitrary arrests and detentions show Tanzanian authorities’ flagrant disregard for the rule of law, and human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and association. These politically motivated arrests must stop,” Mwangovya said.

According to Amnesty International, Tanzanian police arrested the 12 opposition members from their hotel rooms in Mwanza around 2.30 a.m. on July 21.

The arrest occurred just hours before a planned gathering calling for the country’s new constitution.

Mwanza’s Regional Commissioner Robert Gabriel issued a blanket ban on all sorts of meetings, with the exception of religious gatherings and funerals, on July 20.

The 11 detained at Central Police Station, according to the opposition party’s Protocol, Communications, and Foreign Affairs director, John Mrema, have not been charged with any criminal offense.

Lawyers for them say they haven’t seen any declarations of offense about why they were arrested.

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