Friday, July 22, 2011

Statement by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, On Violent Disruption of Protests and Destruction of Property in Malawi

Brussels, 22 July 2011

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, issued the following statement today:

“I strongly condemn the use of force and live ammunition by Malawian authorities on 20 and 21 July and to prevent their own citizens from exercising their constitutional right to demonstratepeacefully, as well as the ban imposed on media reporting of the confrontations. Denying the rightof people to protest peacefully is unacceptable, and I am disturbed by reports of unwarranted violence targeted at certain individuals on July 20 because of their political or social affiliations. Iam further disturbed by the announcement from the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority(MACRA) banning all private radio stations from broadcasting the demonstrations. At the same time I am also critical of and condemn the violence and looting perpetrated by a limitednumber of individuals during the protests. The Malawian people are guaranteed the right to peaceful association and freedom of expression in their constitution. The attempts by state security to prohibit its citizens from marching in thecapital city and other locations, and the regulator’s ban on independent media coverage underminedemocracy and the rule of law that Malawians cherish and are fighting to protect and strengthen. I call on the people and the Government of Malawi to remain committed to the principles ofdemocracy and to express and resolve disagreements through peaceful means. I note that in hisaddress to the nation on 21 July the President, while criticising the violence has recognised theneed for dialogue with all stakeholders I strongly encourage this dialogue to start as soon aspossible.”____________________

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