Condemnation of the oppression and violence against
journalists and activists in Mozambique
On Sunday night, 23rd of August, 2020, the office of the newspaper Canal de Moçambique was set on fire with homemade bombs (Molotov cocktail) by allegedly unidentified individuals.
Canal de Moçambique is a serious, professional and highly reputable newspaper that serves a fundamental role in our society, disseminating news and articles on various issues that are important to the country, including but not limited to governance, corruption, lack of transparency, human rights violations, and others. A free, open and inclusive dialogue is a fundamental condition in the construction of fairer and more equitable societies.
Mere hours before the destruction of Canal de Moçambique’s office, the journalist and activist Armando Nenane, who has been criticizing the structural corruption of the state and the private appropriation of funds granted by transnational gas companies, was arrested near his residence. Although the reason given for the arrest was allegedly violating the state of emergency, it is known that the regime has been trying to silence Armando Nenane for a long time, he was even beaten by the police and threatened with a legal process.
So a clear message has been sent: there cannot be space for critical voices in Mozambique. There cannot be space to stand against injustices, corruption schemes or even frauds. There cannot be space for debate – which is urgently necessary – about a better social project for the country. Anyone that tries to do this risks feeling the long and powerful tentacles of a system that governs through oppression and fear.
These events that unfolded in the last 24 hours, are not only bitter but also have a very familiar taste. Journalists, academics, activists and civil society organizations that do not echo the system’s mantra, have been systematically persecuted, threatened, repressed, silenced, beaten or murdered.
Here we remember Carlos Cardoso, a journalist murdered in 2000, while he was investigating the corruption linked to the privatization of Banco de Moçambique.
Here we remember António Siba-Siba Macuácua, an economist murdered in 2001, while he was investigating the corruption in Banco Austral.
Here we remember Gilles Cistac, constitutionalist and professor, a fierce critic of the state’s corruption, murdered in 2015. He was shot dead after making an argument in favour of a reform of decentraliation of the country.
Here we remember Anastácio Matavele, activist and election observer, murdered by the police in 2019, on the eve of our country’s presidential election.
We also remember hundreds of other cases of activists, journalists and academics, that individually or collectively, have been working on the consolidation of democracy, on the defense of human rights, of protection of nature, and are constantly persecuted, threatened, attacked or pursued due to their role and importance of what they share and debate.
Here we remember every Fátima Mimbire, Anabela Lemos, José Jaime Macuane, Izdine Achá, Estácio Valói, David Matsinhe, Matias Guente, Ericino de Salema, Jeremias Vunjanhe, Daniel Ribeiro, Amade Aboobacar, Omardine Omar and Ibrahimo Mbaruco (who is still missing!). And so many others.
And we also remember the thousands of people that are silenced and made to bow down daily due to fear, people who are oppressed by the system of structural violence that was imposed in our society, which robs more lives and rights every day.
Today we stand against the repeated attacks on the right to life and to the physical and moral integrity of so many Mozambicans, even though it is allegedly guaranteed by Article 40 of our Constitution. We stand in defence of our freedom of speech, press and right to information, allegedly protected by Article 48 of our Constitution. Today we stand against the repeated and systematic attacks on journalism and activism in Mozambique.
We demand that Ibrahimo Mbaruco be located, alive and well, and that those involved in his disappearance be held accountable!
We demand a deep investigation of who is responsible for the attack on the office of Canal de Moçambique, including those who aid and abet, and that the convicted are held accountable.
We reiterate our solidarity to everyone who raises their voice against injustice!
“It is forbidden to put handcuffs in words” _Carlos Cardoso
Maputo, 25th of August, 2020
Acção Académica para o Desenvolvimento das Comunidades Rurais (ADECRU)
ALTERNACTIVA pela Emancipação Social
Justiça Ambiental (JA!)
Kubecera – Tete
Observatório do Meio Rural (OMR)
Rede para Integração Social (RISC)