- Itai Dzamara.
Human Rights defenders Amnesty International have extended one of their greatest tributes, the Lifetime Achievers accolade to abducted and missing Zimbabwean journalist and human rights activist Itai Dzamara. Dzamara was one of four activists named for outstanding contributions to the cause of human rights. The others are Honduran environmental and land activist Berta Caceres, Sirikan Charoensiri, a human rights lawyer facing sedition charges in Thailand and Iranian lawyer Narges Mohammadi who was jailed for 22 years for campaigning against rampant use of the death penalty by Tehran and acid attacks against women.
Amnesty International’s senior director for research Anna Neistat issued the following statement:
“Just like in the movies, sometimes extraordinary circumstances can make heroes out of ordinary people. There are countless brave activists around the world who take great personal risks to defend human rights. Since it’s awards season, Amnesty International is paying tribute to four human rights heroes whose dramatic stories could be made into movies.
It’s been almost two years since Zimbabwean journalist and activist Itai Peace Dzamara was dragged from a barbers’ chair by five armed men while he was getting a haircut.
Dzamara, the leader of a pro-democracy movement called “Occupy Africa Unity Square”, had long been considered an enemy of the state by the Zimbabwean government. Just two days before his abduction he had delivered a speech at an opposition rally in Harare, calling for mass action against the deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe.
If this were a movie, justice would have been done long ago. Dzamara would have been returned to his wife and children, and the men who abducted him held accountable.
But this isn’t Hollywood. This is Zimbabwe, where basic rights and freedoms have been trampled on throughout the long years of Robert Mugabe’s reign. As Itai Peace Dzamara and his family know, anyone who dares to speak out is a target for intimidation, harassment and arrest, and there’s no happy ending in sight.
Despite a court ruling ordering state security agents to investigate Dzamara’s disappearance, there were gaps in the investigation and his whereabouts remains a mystery.”
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