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ANNOThe Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) announces the postponement until further notice of the demonstrations that were scheduled for 27th March, 2019.  After deep reflections on our strategies, prevailing state of disaster in Malawi and thorough consultations with relevant stakeholders, we have decided that it is only humane and prudent of us to momentarily shelf our plans to exercise our right to demonstrate and alternately step up the implementation of our other equally effective accountability strategies.  

While demonstrations still remain our all-time accountability mechanism, we thought it wise and duty bound to grief with our brothers and sisters who have been affected by these floods. Malawi is a nation in mourning. Floods have compromised the right to life and property. Floods in the southern region have heavily compromised our demonstration preparations. People that were geared to participate in these demonstrations have either lost their lives or their livelihood.  It is only humane for us as HRDC to join the affected communities in mourning the lives lost and intensify relief efforts to mitigate the impact the floods.We take this opportunity to appeal to the international community to continue supporting Malawi in this time of need.

While we count the devastating impact of flood and join in the relief efforts, our other hand is still on our core mandate-defending human rights.  We have meanwhile intensified our calls for accountability through the courts and to that effect, have already instructed our lawyers to move the courts on a number of cases bordering on human rights abuses, corruption, abuse of power/office to mention but a few.Similarly, we have stepped-up our community engagement and mobilization strategies including holding citizen rallies to empower communities so that they can amplify their call for accountability from duty bearers.

We take this opportunity to remind all including the Malawi Police Service and regime thugs that no amount of terror will intimidate us into abandoning our call and promise to defender human rights. We are aware of all their mechanization to unleash terror on us, but we promise them we are not afraid.We will keep on monitoring the political landscape and will be announcing the new date for the nationwide demonstration in due course.   

God Bless Malawi.

Signed by

Timothy Mtambo                                                         Gift Trapence

HRDC National Chairperson                                    HRDC National Vice    Chairperson

Released on Saturday, 23rd March ,2019 in Lilongwe

firday 1We at the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) are dismayed but not surprised by the cheap, confused and dangerous allegations being peddled by the pro-government Poor and Concerned Persons with Albinism (PACPWA) and the so-called Islamic Commission for Justice and Freedom (ICJF) aimed at diverting stakeholder’s attention from discussing how government has helplessly failed to address the abduction and killing of person with albinism in Malawi.

The media is awash with a statement purportedly issued by the PACPWA and the ICJF, calling on security agencies to investigate and arrest the HRDC leadership based on some dreamt-up allegations. The statement alleges that the HRDC leadership is cooking-up evidence aimed at incriminating government in the killing of persons with albinism.

We are irked that the two groupings have deliberately chosen to advance their selfish and partisan interests at the expense of the lives of our brother and sisters with albinism. These careless utterances are aimed at frustrating sober strategies that are being championed by relevant authorities to get to the bottom of the attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism. PACPWA and ICJF should desist from being used by selfish politicians to satisfy their selfish interests.

While we are not in the habit of commenting or responding to cheap propaganda like the one at hand, we vehemently refuse to have the names of the HRDC leadership dragged in the mud on this issue. What these two groupings should know is that the HRDC has a mandate to research and investigate any human rights violations and abuses without the fear of being threatened by anyone, including PACPWA. The calls for arrest of the HRDC leadership are misguided, malicious and very laughable. We would like to warn these organisations that if they continue making such baseless and careless allegations against the HRDC leadership, we will have no option but to take legal action against them. Much as the Constitution of Malawi protects free speech, PACPWA should know that that protection does not extend to defamatory and character assassination remarks which the grouping has made against the leadership of the HRDC. The statement by PACPWA and the ICJF is highly defamatory to the leadership of the HRDC.

We would like to remind the nation that our work in human rights advocacy is evidence based and in this light we have a mandate to carry out necessary investigations in order to establish required facts and inform our advocacy. Therefore, our visit to Domasi Prison on 15th March 2019 (and not March 14th as PACPWA’s statement alleges) was solely in line with this mandate. The visit was aimed at investigating how –and why one key –suspect in the murder of McDonald Masambuka, a person with albinism, was transferred from Zomba Central Prison to Domasi prison. We felt that it was very necessary to conduct this special investigation considering that recently, Lule Buleya, a key suspect in the abduction and murder of a 14-year old boy with albinism, Goodson Makanjira in Dedza, was murdered whilst in police custody before conclusion of his case. We were alarmed and suspicious upon being informed that Alfred Yohane, a key suspect in the murder of Masambuka, has been transferred from Zomba Central Prison to Domasi Prison.

It is utter nonsense to suggest that the purpose of this visit was to find dirt to implicate Mutharika and his government in the attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism. All conversations with the suspect were done in full presence of prison officials. The HRDC does not believe in doing things in secret, which is why we find allegations made by the two groups highly outrageous. Upon interviewing him, Yohane stated that he is living in fear and he does not know the reason behind his transfer. His court case is dragging and has not been concluded. As human rights defenders, we call                                                                                                                                                                                                                 upon the Government to ensure that his case is urgently concluded because justice delayed is justice                                                                                                                                                                                                                denied.

friday 3

We would like to tell PACPWA and its ally in the name of the ICJF that the HRDC is a highly professional organization. It is, therefore, an insult to allege that the HRDC was being funded by the UTM to carry out its investigations. We challenge PACPWA and ICJF to produce evidence to support their allegations. The HRDC does not have political interests and is not in the business of peddling political party agendas. Our business is purely human rights.

We urge President Mutharika and the DPP-led government to ensure that human rights organizations are able to operate freely without interference or intimidation.

It is unfortunate that the current leadership has adopted the shameless strategy of blame game against various stakeholders who are trying to find a meaningful solution to attacks and killings of persons with albinism. Recently, the President during the swearing in ceremony of the Commissioners in the inquiry of the attacks and killings of people with albinism, threw attacks on the leadership of Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), HRDC, the former leader of Opposition- Dr. Chakwera and Vice President- Dr. Chilima, for doing nothing but simply pointing out the leadership lapse and suggesting solution to these abhorrent and disgusting human rights abuses.

We take this opportunity to remind the Democratic Progressive Party and its functionaries to refrain from frustrating efforts that are aimed at ending killing of persons with albinism but rather hasten in finding lasting solutions to the national embarrassments; abduction and killing of persons with albinism.

We wish to remind all our detractors that no amount of propaganda, mudslinging nor smear campaign will slow us down in our drive to hold duty bearers accountable to the human rights promises. We will not tire in demanding accountability on all human rights violations and poor governance including corruption which is happening under full watch of the Mutharika leadership.

Signed by

 

Timothy Mtambo                                                                   Gift Trapence

HRDC National Chairperson                                             HRDC National Vice   Chairperson

Happy Mhango - Regional Chair North

Madalitso Banda - Regional Chair East

Masauko Thawe - Regional Chair South

Billy Mayaya - Regional Chair Centre

 

                                                                                          

           Released on Thursday, 21st March ,2019 in Lilongwe

  1. ED4Introduction

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has learnt with dismay the “unpresidential”, insensitive, and embarrassing remarks the President of Republic of Malawi His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika made during the Swearing-in Ceremony for the Commission of Inquiry into the killings of persons with albinism. We therefore observe as follows:

  1. Mutharika’s shameless attempt to influence the outcome of the Commission.

Mutharika’s issuing of orders to the newly established Commission of Inquiry into the killings of persons with albinism on who to listen to and areas to focus on (and those not to focus on) can be out rightly interpreted as a deliberate tactic to interfere in the work of the Commission. We fear that such subjective remarks will influence the commission to look away from such allegations that implicate President Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party officials. The expectation of the public was that President Mutharika would stick to giving the Commission the terms of reference and reporting procedures and deadlines. Telling the Commission what to do and what to look for is outrageous.  As HRDC, we strongly hold that the Commission should be left to do its work- without any executive or whatever interference- independently and professionally in order to come up with their independent conclusions and recommendations. As HRDC, we strongly condemn Mutharika’s remarks on this.

  1. Ungrateful Mutharika.

We find Mutharika’s attacks on the former Leader of Opposition Right. Hon. Dr Lazarus Chakwera, the Vice President of Malawi Right. Hon. Dr Saulos Chilima, Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) President Overtone Khondowe, and two members of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Timothy Mtambo and Charles Kajolobeka as not only misplaced but also a direct attack to the collective national and global cause against the killings of persons with albinism in Malawi. We at HRDC are of the strong view that these individuals and their respective associations and coalitions are now the object of Mutharika’s wrath simply for waking up President Mutharika from slumber to act decisively on the continued barbaric attacks on persons with albinism in the country, and also their continued call for accountability for Mutharika to clear his name and those of his associates in the Blue camp in the leaked audio clips implicating him in the killings of persons with albinism.

 It is an established fact that in the absence of a resilient and consistent wave of State’s accountability on the killings of persons with albinism spearheaded by these individuals, APAM, HRDC, CCJP, Chancellor College (Faculty of Law), FEDOMA, NGO GCN and other Malawians of goodwill, President Mutharika would have not made any steps towards implementing the Nation Action Plan including the very institution of the Commission of Inquiry into these killings. It is therefore weird to see President Mutharika –instead of commending these actors for waking him up from slumber to begin acting on the killings of persons with albinism- stoop so low to employ “blame game” as strategy to divert public attention from real issues requiring his government’s leadership in dealing with the vice.  

  1. It’s our Money! Not Mutharika’s!

We at HRDC see Mutharika’s insensitive personal glorification of hosting persons with albinism at Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) as not only an act of hypocrisy of highest order but also a clear reflection of a leader who has lost touch with reality. All Malawians of goodwill including persons with albinism witnessed a historic but embarrassing event on the eve of the vigils where President Mutharika run away from his own people who were geared at petitioning him at State House on the continued killings of persons with albinism. If Mutharika really cared about the plight of persons with albinism, he would have not only cancelled his eleventh hour trip to Mzuzu in order to receive a petition from A PAM – an entitle duly recognised in the National Action Plan as a representative of persons with albinism- but also fired his Minister Nicholas Dausi for ‘acting suspiciously’ in his statement that the killings of persons with albinism had not reached the level warranting a vigil.

Furthermore, it is weird for Mutharika to boast of hosting persons with albinism at Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) as the best thing he has ever done when actual fact he has miserably failed to protect them from abductors. Besides, President Mutharika did not use his personal money to host persons with albinism at MIM but rather tax-payers money. If truth be told, it is the tax payer who hosted persons with albinism at MIM at a critical time when President Mutharika had run away from them under the guise of pressing government assignments in Mzuzu.  And indeed, no tax payer has complained that the use of such funds to host persons with albinism was a waste of public money.  In fact, as tax payers we would want Mutharika to take a step further by allocating more funds (our taxes) towards the protection of persons with albinism and stop these killings NOW!

  1. Has President Mutharika disowned persons with albinism?

HRDC further observe the insensitive use of the phrase “their people” by President Peter Mutharika in reference to his ill-founded claim that Timothy Mtambo and Charles Kajolobeka “abandoned” persons with albinism during the vigils. President Mutharika said: “To our surprise, Mr. Timothy Mtambo and Mr. Charles Kajoloweka took over the show only to abandon their people with albinism stranded in the rain, without water, without shelter and without transport.” By using this phrase, is Mutharika disowning persons with albinism to the extent that he does not call them “his people” but rather Mtambo and Kajoloweka’s people? What kind of a father is he? What does this say about his professed concern about the killings of persons with albinism? Is President Mutharika sincere? As we have already stated earlier, persons with albinism joined by many Malawians of goodwill including Mtambo and Kajoloweka braved the rains in their quest for Mutharika’s decisive answers on the continued killings of persons with albinism but sadly Mutharika had run away from them.

  1. Mutharika’s insensitive remarks on Chasowa,

Mutharika’s attack on the Commission of Inquiry into the Robert Chasowa’s murder is regrettable. Does this not explain why Mutharika has paid a blind eye into the recommendations on the murder of Robert Chasowa commission of inquiry? Does this explain why Mutharika has been rewarding some of those implicated in the Chasowa murder with public positions? We as Human Rights Defenders are shocked by Mutharika’s statements at a time when Mutharika’s government has been promising the nation as well as speaking on various international human rights treaty bodies that it was making head ways into the investigations on Chasowa’s murder.

  1. Conclusion

As HRDC, we will not be moved by Mutharika’s statements, and indeed we will continue to fearlessly hold him accountable until his government fully protects, promote, respect and fulfil the right to life of persons with albinism. We will not tire in demanding answers on the suspicious death of a suspect (Buleya) and a series of suicides committed by suspects in the albino killings in the hand of Malawi Police. Yes, we will not relent in demanding Mutharika to clear his name in the alleged leaked clip implicating him and others in the killings of persons with albinism. Lastly, we will continue to remind Mutharika to fully honour his commitments in the National Action Plan against the killings of persons with Albinism.

God bless Malawi.

Signed By

12th March 2019

Timothy Mtambo                                                                                       Gift Trapence

HRDC National Chair                                                                    HRDC National Vice Chair

Endorsed By

Billy Mayaya - HRDC Central Region Chair

Madalitso Banda - HRDC Eastern Region Chair

Masauko Thawe - HRDC Southern Region Chair

Charles Kajoloweka – YAS Director & HRDC Member

Makhumbo Mkanavimbundi Munthali – A deeply concerned Citizen & HRDC Member