LONDON - In response to the violent repression of nationwide peaceful protests to remember the fallen musician Azagaia by the Mozambican police, including beating up of protesters, teargassing and targeting organizers for their role in organizing the rallies, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa, Emerlynn Gill, said:
“The Mozambican police’s heavy-handed response to these peaceful demonstrations, including beating up protesters with baton sticks, causing them injuries, is an outrageous act of unfortunate policing against these defenseless protesters.
“There’s no doubt that police were aiming to suppress the demonstrations, with the intention of belittling Azagaia legacy in Mozambique. Police’s actions, seen beating up protesters in videos supplied to Amnesty International and shared on social media, are a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests.
“Police must refrain from further targeting protesters, including arbitrarily arresting them and engaging in retaliatory violence against the peaceful protesters.
“Authorities must swiftly investigate police who arrested people in Maputo and subjected them to beating and ensure that they are brought to account for violating the human rights of protesters including international law.”
Mozambican youths were participating in authorized nationwide peaceful demonstrations in five provinces, including in Maputo, to remember the fallen artist, Azagaia. Azagaia, who inspired many with his music, sang about injustice, including mistreatment of people by the authorities and poverty and social injustice and urged people to hold their authorities to account. He died suddenly on 9 March 2023.
The police, as seen through videos viewed by Amnesty International, acted violently and unlawfully towards the protesters in locations such as Maputo in the morning of 18 March. Seven protesters and organizers have been arrested and detained in Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala and Nampula so far and police are understood to be calling others and threatening them for their involvement in the protests.