Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

16 August 2011

Malawi set for fresh anti-government protests

Malawi set for fresh anti-government protests

Malawians participating in nationwide protests planned for 17 August risk being killed or injured unless the authorities halt the use of live ammunition against anti-government demonstrators, Amnesty International said today.

The protests come amid increased harassment and intimidation of activists and other dissenting voices in Malawi. In July, at least 18 people were killed and scores of others injured when police opened fire on protesters in a number of Malawian cities.

“The Malawian authorities must allow people to express their opinions without fear of violent reprisals or arbitrary arrests,“ said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Programme Director.

“The police must refrain from using excessive force. Under UN policing standards, firearms should only be used when there is no other means of defending against threats of death or serious injury”.

While some of the July demonstrations had turned violent, most protesters were unarmed.

Around 500 people, including human rights defenders, were arrested.

The protests brought together students, human rights activists and religious groups over a range of issues including repressive legislation, poor governance and fuel shortages.

The Malawian government has intensified its harassment and intimidation of critics and dissidents over recent months, stifling freedom of expression and creating a climate of fear.  During the July demonstrations, police deliberately targeted at least eight journalists, beating them with gun butts. 

Human rights activists have also been targeted. Some have received death threats, others have been forced to go into hiding. Threats to activists appear to have been fuelled and perpetuated by persistent public criticism by high level government officials.

Recently, President Bingu wa Mutharika described July’s protests as “the work of Satan” and threatened to “smoke out the organisers”, prompting several more prominent human rights defenders to go into hiding.

Amnesty International again urges the Malawian authorities to open an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the lethal use of force during July’s protests. 

“Such an investigation is now well overdue,“ said Michelle Kagari.

“In the interim, we are calling on the Malawian authorities to exercise restraint and to respect their citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. If Malawians want to exercise their right to peaceful demonstration, they should be allowed to do so in safety.”

Read More

Malawi must investigate protest killings (NEWS, 21 July 2011)
Violence erupts during Malawi anti-government demonstrations (NEWS, 20 July 2011)

Issue

Activists 
Freedom Of Expression 
Law Enforcement 
Torture And Ill-treatment 

Country

Malawi 

Region

Africa 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

23 October 2014

The Netherlands’ repeated attempts to argue for the forcible return of Somalis to areas controlled by the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab exposes them to grave risks of human... Read more »

17 October 2014

Prisoner of conscience and torture victim Ángel Amílcar Colón Quevedo has been released from prison after five years in pre-trial detention, in a move that is welcome but... Read more »

22 October 2014

The release from prison of one of Viet Nam’s most high profile prisoners of conscience is a positive step, but authorities must now free the scores of other peaceful... Read more »

20 October 2014

An Amnesty International investigation into allegations of execution-style and other deliberate killings by pro-Russian separatists and pro-Kyiv forces has found evidence... Read more »

17 October 2014

Testimonies gathered by Amnesty International indicate that Egyptian security forces used excessive force to crack down on recent student demonstrations at Alexandria... Read more »