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Two women holding the country's flag during a 2017 protest in Zimbabwe.

#ZimbabweanLivesMatter: Calls for African Union to Respond to Zimbabwean Government’s Violence Against Citizens Strengthen

Using the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter millions across the continent are pleading the African Union intervenes in human rights violations in Zimbabwe amid coronavirus funding corruption allegations.

The hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter is trending on Twitter, and has reached millions across the continent in a matter of hours. The movement is in support of ongoing protest action against the imprisonment of journalist Hopewell Chin'ono who exposed the alleged pilfering of coronavirus funds by government officials.

Enraged international online community has reacted with calls for South Africa, SADC and African Union to intervene in President Mnagagwa's violent actions against protesters.


Read: Deep Dive: Protest Movements Across the Continent

Zimbabwean activists wrote a public letter to the African Union earlier in the year condemning the 20 July 2020 arrest and subsequent bail denial for Chin'ono. The letter further goes on to condemn the silence of Afrian Union and SADC, pointing the hypocrisy of African Union's quick and public response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement sparked by the death of George Floyd.


"We fear that as long as Zimbabwe continues to violate its citizens' rights with impunity, we and fellow writers and journalists are in danger of having our rights violated in the different AU member states while the mother body stays silent," the letter states as reported by Africa Report.

Additionally, renowned Zimbabwean author and recent Booker Prize nominee, Tsitsi Dangarembga was arrested over the weekend and has been released on bail for her participation in the protests.

ZimEye reports that "President Emmerson Mnangagwa regime sought to thwart the planned anti-corruption march that had been planned for 31 July".

South African celebrities have rallied support for the movement and the rapper AKA leads in voicing his support.



Former leader of the DA, South Africa's official opposition party, Mmusi Maimane has also pressured South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who is the chairperson of the African Union to tell Mnangagwa to respect the rights of the media and opposition. He also reached out to Trevor Noah in a tweet.




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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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