Zimbabwe under internet blackout after protests

Zimbabwe under internet blackout after protests

Kerry Wise
January 21, 2019

The protests began after the government more than doubled the price of gasoline.

At least 12 people have been killed and 78 treated for gunshot injuries over the last week, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, which has recorded more than 240 incidents of assault and torture.

Over the course of the week riot police have clashed with protesters in the capital, Harare, and the southern city of Bulawayo after they lit fires and blocked roads using rocks.

The UN has called on the government to halt the "excessive use of force" by security forces, amid reports of door-to-door searches and the use of live ammunition.

Zimbabwe's brutal crackdown after recent protests is "just a foretaste of things to come", the presidential spokesman told a state-run newspaper Sunday, as he blamed opposition parties for stoking unrest.

More than 600 protesters have been arrested in Zimbabwe as the government cracks down on opposition.

The violence rose on Monday after President Emmerson Mnangagwa raised fuel prices by 150 percent.

Zimbabweans had briefly rejoiced when Mnangagwa succeeded Mugabe, who was forced out in late 2017, thinking the new president would deliver on his refrain that the country "is open for business".

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As NPR's Eyder Peralta reports: "Mnangagwa ushered in an era of historical civic freedoms: Police checkpoints were lifted and for the first time in decades Zimbabweans were allowed to air political views".

"The total shutdown of the internet is simply to enable crimes against humanity", he told Reuters.

In what critics have called an attempt to cover up abuses, the government in the past few days has imposed an internet shutdown across the country, ordering internet service providers and telecommunications firms to block popular social media apps or everything at once.

A magistrate in Zimbabwe says there is reasonable suspicion that a well-known pastor accused of subversion amid nationwide protests committed an offense, and has set another hearing for January 31.

"One activist's death too many, Back off army we have a right to protest and Hands off our internet" were among the posters carried by the Right2Know picketers in front of the Zimbabwean embassy.

He blasted the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation for biased reporting; warning such "type of reckless reporting" was causing divisions in the country and had the potential of causing a Rwanda-type genocide.

"We want to take the matter up with Sadc, the United Nations and all organs and tell them that the people are under siege from their own government", Chamisa said. Some government workers could no longer pay for public transportation.