Zimbabwe: political activist and journalist abducted; fears for safety

RAN 07/1523 March 2015

PEN International is deeply concerned by the abduction of political activist and former journalist Itai Dzamara and subsequent lack of progress in the investigation into his disappearance. Dzamara was abducted by five unidentified assailants at a barber’s shop in Harare, Zimbabwe, on 9 March 2015. PEN calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to clarify the fate of Itai Dzamara and bring the perpetrators to justice.

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Please send appeals:

  • Protesting the abduction of political activist and former journalist Itai Dzamara
  • Calling for a swift and thorough investigation into Dzamara’s abduction and that the perpetrators are brought to justice;

Please send appeals reiterating PEN’s calls (listed above) to:

Minister of Home Affairs
Hon. Kembo Mohadi
Ministry of Home Affairs
Private Bag CY 7703
Fax: +263 4 707231
Email: postmaster [at] moha.gov [dot] zw

The Commissioner General
Augustine Chihuri
Zimbabwe Republic Police
Police General HQ
7th Street and Josiah Chinamano Avenue
P.O.Box CY 8807
Harare, Zimbabwe
Fax: 011 263 (4) 253 212

President Mugabe
P. Bag 7700
Corner Samora Machel Avenue and Sam Nujoma Street
Munhumutapa Building

And copy to the Embassy of Zimbabwe in your country. You can find embassy addresses here

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 20 April 2015. ***

You could also adopt Itai Dzamara as an Honorary Member of your centre

Send messages of support to his family via Emma.Wadsworth-Jones [at] pen-international [dot] org

Please inform us of any action you take, and of any responses you receive


Dzamara was the editor of the News Leader newspaper which he founded in 2008. Prior to that he worked for various publications including the Zimbabwe Independent, the Standard and the Zimbabwean.  In October 2014 he suspended its publication in order to focus on his political activism. The same month he submitted a petition to President Mugabe calling for his resignation.

Since then, Dzamara has led a pro-democracy movement known as Occupy Africa Unity Square, which calls for Mugabe’s resignation. In November 2014, he was beaten by police in Africa Unity Square.

On 9 March 2015, Dzamara was abducted by five unidentified men at a barber shop in Harare. The men accused him of cattle theft, handcuffed him and bundled him into an unmarked van, according to news reports. Two days before his abduction he delivered a speech at an opposition rally in Harare, offering solidarity with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party for mass protests against the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

On 13 March the country’s high court ordered the police and state intelligence agency to search for Dzamara and work closely with the family’s lawyer. The investigation is thought to be ongoing.

While the Zimbabwean authorities officially deny any involvement in Dzamara’s abduction or knowledge of his whereabouts, Dzamara’s family are less than convinced, given the authorities’ past precedent for the harassment and persecution of supporters of the opposition.

During the 2008 elections, Zimbabwe’s military, state security agents, and supporters of the ruling party killed at least 200 opposition supporters, and beat and tortured some 5,000 others. To date the state has failed to provide the victims with redress for the violations suffered.