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The continued persecution of human rights activist Pastor Evan Mawarire is a deliberate ploy by the Zimbabwean authorities to harass, intimidate and, ultimately, silence him, Amnesty International said today ahead of his court appearance on April 21, 2017.

Pastor Evan Mawarire is scheduled to appear at Harare Magistrate’s Court.

“The Zimbabwean authorities want to make an example out of Pastor Evan Mawarire and send a clear message to anyone who dares dissent – criticize us at your own risk,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

“Zimbabwean authorities must drop all the charges against him. It’s high time they stopped harassing and intimidating peaceful activists through the misuse of the criminal justice system.”

Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested and charged with subversion and “insulting the national flag of Zimbabwe” on January 31, 2017. He was later released on $300 bail.

Founder of the #Thisflag movement, he led several anti-government protests in 2016 against corruption, human rights violations and the declining economy in the country.

He was previously arrested on July 12, 2016 and charged with incitement to commit public violence after leading a national shutdown on July 6. He was then released after a magistrate found his arrest to be unconstitutional and dismissed the charge against him.