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HRCC CONDEMS ATTACK ON REV. MACDONALD SEMBEREKA HOUSE

HRCC CONDEMS ATTACK ON REV. MACDONALD SEMBEREKA HOUSE

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Published by Malawi2014

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Published by: Malawi2014 on Sep 13, 2011
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09/13/2011

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HUMAN RIGHTS CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (HRCC)Press StatementHRCC CONDEMS ATTACK ON REV. MACDONALD SEMBEREKA HOUSEThe Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) is a network of 91 local civil society and non-governmental organisations that work to promote good governance, protect human and people’s rights, and contribute to national development through the entrenchment of a culture of transparency and accountability. HRCC does not promote personalities for political or other interests, but promotes systems andprinciples that are incidental to development and to the entrenchment of a culture of respect for human dignity at all levels.HRCC has learnt with shock that the house of Reverend MacDonald Sembereka, the Executive Director of Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with HIV/AIDS (MANERELA+) who is also the Acting National Coordinator of Human Rights Consultation Committee (HRCC), was petrol-bombed by a group of unidentified thugs in Balaka last Saturday night. Reverend Sembereka is the latest victim of what is apparently a deliberate campaign of physical violence against human rights defenders in Malawi. Barely a week ago, the offices of Institute of Policy Interaction (IPI), a think-thank led by another prominent activist Mr Rafiq Hajat, were also torched by unidentified thugs. These two incidents remind us of an incident earlierthis year whereby on one fateful night, a similar band of thugs invaded the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) premises in Lilongwe, severely beat up a guard and dumped him some miles away from the premises after the guard had expressed ignorance about the location of the Executive Director’s residence.HRCC unequivocally condemn this escalating trend of violence against people withdissenting views, particularly human rights activists. This trend is not only unsettling but it is also barbaric and uncivilized. Political tolerance is an indispensable hallmark of a democratic society, and violence against those with dissenting political views is clearly unacceptable in such a democratic dispensation. At HRCC, we are convinced that these attacks against human rights activists are being masterminded and carried out by sympathizers of Democratic ProgressiveParty (DPP) and are aimed at suppressing dissent against the incumbent government. This conviction is not without basis. For a long time now, human rights defenders in Malawi have been reporting incidents of harassment and intimidation as well as acts of violence to police but never before have such matters been followed to their logical conclusion.We take note that President Mutharika himself has been on the forefront utteringcareless sentiments during public functions, to the extent of threatening to “smoke out” his critics and challenging them to “war”. He threatened to deal with the organizers of the 20th July demonstrations (and “smoke out” those who are in hiding): itis therefore no mere coincidence that the latest victims of violence are the same people whom he threatened to deal with. We also wonder whether this is the “war”that Mutharika was referring to in his rants against the civil society during the Agricultural Fair on August 25, this year.In view of the foregoing, we would like to call upon the Police to commence earnest investigations into the shameful act of arson at Reverend Sembereka’s house aswell as bring all related matters to their logical conclusion so that the perpetrators are duly brought to book, thereby upholding justice and preserving the rule of law in our country. We urge the authorities to expedite the investigations and allow justice to take its course.HRCC hereby also kindly appeal to our President to refrain from making recklessstatements that only inflame tension and violence instead of peace, harmony andtranquility amongst Malawians. If anything, President Mutharika should also cond

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