The EU on Thursday (17 January) decried the disproportionate use of force by Zimbabwe authorities during protests in which doctors say 68 people suffered gunshot wounds.
“The escalation of violence in Zimbabwe over recent days has been aggravated by the disproportionate use of force by security personnel,” European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) January 17, 2019
“We expect the Government of Zimbabwe to uphold human rights and the rule of law, as enshrined in the constitution, and ensure due legal process for those detained,” the statement added.
The EU also asked that the government “conduct a thorough investigation into the deaths and abuses over the last days.”
Statement by the Spokesperson on the situation in Zimbabwe. https://t.co/ERNvZgQgED
— Maja Kocijančič (@MajaEUspox) January 17, 2019
Nationwide demonstrations erupted on Monday after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that fuel prices were being doubled in a country suffering regular shortages of fuel, food and medicine.
Scores have been beaten and arrested in Zimbabwe as protests erupt following a 150% fuel price hike. pic.twitter.com/Lj7Z2dPMuk
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) January 17, 2019
Mnangagwa, who succeeded ousted authoritarian president Robert Mugabe in 2017, had promised a fresh start for Zimbabwe after decades of repression and economic decline.
Brussels acknowledged that the Harare government had chosen the path of economic reforms, but said these could only be achieved through “inclusive national dialogue” that included “freedom of assembly, association and expression”.
🇿🇼 Despite a deadly crackdown, and the return of social media access, protests over fuel prices continue to rock Zimbabwe pic.twitter.com/R2l2Kv7LSk
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) January 18, 2019
“Zimbabwe’s efforts to promote investment and to deepen international partnerships can only be successful if these essential requirements are fulfilled,” the EU said.
Trade unions had called the national strike on Monday and the demonstrations took place in several cities with widespread rioting and looting.
Security forces have since arrested about 600 suspects, including leading trade unionists and opposition figures, in a crackdown also decried by rights groups.
Police and soldiers have been accused of indiscriminately dragging people from their homes in Harare and beating them.