HH, Nevers, Sikota endorse report on violation of human rights by Sata’s regime in Johnesburg

File: HH with Nevers leaving Police Station

File: HH with Nevers leaving Police Station

Zambia’s four opposition leaders on Tuesday held a press conference with leaders of both civil society to present a complaint against the current government of Michael Sata’s violation of human rights before the Commonwealth in Johannesburg.

The opposition and civic leaders presented a 39 page document in which they allege that the Zambian government under Michael Sata and the ruling Patriotic Front party have violated the principles of the Harare Declaration.

Following this violation the group called for the provisional suspension of Zambia from the Commonwealth pending the outcome of an independent investigation by an appointed delegation.

The document was prepared by CDDR, a civil organization spearheaded by Zambian prominent lawyer and politician Sakwiba Sikota and International lawyer Robert Amsterdam who is also the lawyer for former president Rupiah Banda.

In a press release CDDR says the detailed report to Commonwealth presents evidence showing “serious and persistent” violations of the principles of the Commonwealth’s Harare Declaration by the Patriotic Front government of President Michael Sata.

“We may be diverse in our interests, agenda, and political positions, however we are here today united in the belief that Zambia must respect basic rights and freedoms according to the law,”  Amsterdam who helped authoring the report says.

“It is our position that the current government has repeatedly broken the law and violated the rights of both civil society and opposition political parties. We are asking to the Commonwealth to fulfill their commitment to expanding the role of the CMAG as stated in October 2011, and appoint an envoy to conduct an independent investigation into these violations.”

The participants endorsing the Commonwealth petition gathered in Johannesburg include Dr. Nevers Mumba, President of  MMD, Hakainde Hichilema, President of UPND, Edwin Sakala, President of ZDDM and Sikota who heads United Liberal Party (ULP).

The document presented to the Commonwealth presents detailed information on the unlawful nature of detentions of leaders like Dr. Mumba, who was arrested and jailed three times in just two months.

It also highlights the police brutality and use of violence against Hichilema and other UPND members. Citing statements made by President Sata ordering the army to fire upon Zambian citizens in the breakaway region of Barotseland, the report raises urgent concerns over incitement of ethnic violence by the current Zambian government.

“This is a government that has behaved in a criminal fashion, and average Zambian citizens are suffering greatly from their destructive and selfish policies,” said Dr. Mumba.

“If you objectively look at the pattern of abuses committed by this government, not just against opposition parties but also civil societies and business competitors of their allies, it is difficult not to conclude that we are on the road back towards the one-party state,” said Hichilema.

The opposition and civil society representatives have agreed to explore legal coordination to ensure that the Zambian government’s attack on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are brought to the attention of the international community before further damage is caused.

The parties gathered here see the accelerated pace of repression in Zambia as tied to the brutal fight for succession going on within the ruling Patriotic Front Government, states the CDDR.