Malawi's Democracy Continues to Unravel

October 20, 2011

Malawi violence
Isaac Kambwiri injured by police during demonstrations.

Only three months after 18 were killed during peaceful protests in Malawi, five activists were arrested last week. They were holding a peaceful demonstration calling on President wa Mutharika to have a referendum for early elections, the resignation of Police Inspector General Peter Mukhita, and an investigation into his alleged involvement in the death of student activist Robert Chasowa.

Though Malawi rarely receives significant international press coverage for human rights abuses, or much other news for that matter, the government in Malawi has been systematically restricting human rights and taking violent action to suppress criticism.

This year alone, the British ambassador was expelled from the country for describing President wa Mutharika as autocratic, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) was attacked, a national peaceful protest was met with violence, and a student activist murdered.  Malawi seems to need a serious refresher course in democratic process and governance.

Police charged the activists with holding an illegal demonstration under the Police Act alleging that they did not get permission from the police. Amnesty International considers all the detained activists to be prisoners of conscience, arrested solely for exercising their right to peaceful protest, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

Please write now to demand the immediate release of the activists and voice your concern over the state of human rights in Malawi.

Amnesty USA Malawi Country Specialist Veronica Switzer contributed to this post