Last Tuesday at 5am, three brickmakers out of the hundreds of people who have been protesting for fairer compensations in Moatize for the past weeks, were arrested by the Mozambican Police while protesting peacefully at the gates of Brazilian mining giant Vale. According to the men, who we maintained contact with throughout the whole week, the police made them clear the railway they had blocked to prevent the coal from leaving the site and afterwards they were picked from the crowd, handcuffed and taken to the police station.
Thursday we got the information that they were going to be accused of disturbing the peace and making death threats to an employee of Vale.
What was happening was as obvious as ridiculous, but for legal reasons, we couldn’t say anything at the time…now we can.
According to our sources in Tete, the three men have been set free this morning after their hearing and will await for the verdict in freedom.
As expected, the death threat accusation was dropped because the alleged victim (a Brazilian citizen who works for Vale) failed to identify any of the accused as the person or people who threatened him and failed to tell the court what words those who threatened him used.
What he did tell the court, was that he could not possibly pinpoint three men as the people responsible for the threat, since there were hundreds of people protesting when it happen…
It is almost funny. How can this happen? How can these men stand accused of such a serious crime in such a frivolous way?
We, as I am sure many other Mozambicans, would love to hear an explanation from those responsible.
What is happening in Moatize is shameful.
We know it because we were there just a couple of weeks ago, because we know some of these men and we know that they are being persecuted not because they have disturbed the public peace, but because they have disturbed Vale’s peace and the peace of a government who is clearly compromised in this process and is probably the main responsible for all this mess.
We also know that they were not arrested at random, they were targeted by an overbearing system because they are outspoken men respected by their communities. They are the closest to a leader that they have. Those responsible for these coward actions thought that if they could scare them, the others would be scared too.
Shame on you!