Saturday 23 February 2019

Internet blackout as UN urges Zimbabwe to end crackdown

Unrest: An injured man is helped at a private hospital after an alleged assault by a group of uniformed soldiers in Harare. Photo: AP
Unrest: An injured man is helped at a private hospital after an alleged assault by a group of uniformed soldiers in Harare. Photo: AP

MacDonald Dzirutwe

Zimbabwe was under an internet blackout yesterday after authorities extended a communications ban to cover emails, while the United Nations urged an end to a security crackdown on civilians triggered by days of deadly protests.

The government has said three people died during demonstrations that broke out on Monday after President Emmerson Mnangagwa raised fuel prices by 150pc.

Lawyers and activists say the toll was much higher and that security forces used violence and carried out mass arrests to quell the unrest. In Geneva, the UN human rights office called on the government to stop the crackdown and denounced allegations of "generalised intimidation and harassment" of protesters.

As life returned to a semblance of normality in Harare, civilians ventured outside to stock up on food and other supplies while police continued to patrol the streets.

Jacob Mafume, spokesman for the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party, said he feared the web blackout was a prelude to more violence. "The total shutdown of the internet is simply to enable crimes against humanity," he said.

Irish Independent

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