Monday, February 21, 2011

Kenwilliams Mhango Arrested Again

Blantyre Police officers on Friday took human rights activist Kenwilliams Mhango by surprise when they pounced on him in Blantyre Central District, and whisked him away from an internet cafe purportedly for taking part in demonstrations plans against fuel shortages in Lilongwe last week.
 President Bingu wa Mutharika: Dictator or democrat?
Mhango told Zachimalawi four police officers embarrassed him at Frontline Business Centre when they forced him to leave "whatever I was doing on the internet, and follow them to Blantyre Police".
"I was taken by surprise and embarrassed. I think this government has lost direction," said Mhango.
Mhango, a board member for the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC)-  a consortium of over 90 Malawian human rights NGOs- was last week arrested alongside HRCC Chairperson Undule Mwakasungula and National Coordinator Mabvuto Bamusi.
They were later released after being cautioned by police officers in the capital Lilongwe.
While many human rights organisations and lawyers condemned such police action, and thought the issue was dead and buried, Mhango said he was surprised to be picked up by police officers "over an issue we have resolved".
Asked what he thought could be the reason behind the brief arrest, Mhango told Zachimalawi that one of the police officers confided in him that they were sent after receiving a tip that Mhango was organising a protest match against incessant fuel shortages in the commercial city, Blantyre.
He denied the accusation.
The officers later released him without taking him to Blantyre Police Station, according to Mhango.
However, the human rights activist said he is now living in "fear, as anything may happen before I know it".
Southern Region Police Spokesperson, Davie Chingwalu, said he had not received any report on the same.
President Bingu wa Mutharika's government has cramped down hard on protests and dissent, attracting accusations from civil society organisations that he was muzzling human freedoms.
  Are opposition parties, like the United Democratic Front (UDF, above) and freedom of assembly safe?

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