1. Alarm over increase in repression and totalitarianism in Mozambique

 

On 18 March 2023 peaceful demonstrations in Maputo and other cities around the country, to pay homage to the late musician Edson De Luz (known as Azagaia – a well known protest musician) were broken up by Mozambique security forces, using teargas and rubber bullets on citizens – underlining the increasing levels of repression, totalitarianism and police brutality. Michael Hagedorn wrote the following:

https://www.publico.pt/2023/03/28/opiniao/opiniao/repressao-totalitarismo-mocambique-silencio-continuadoportugal-ue-2044216 Mozambique represses peaceful demonstrations, in clear violation of human rights, freedom of expression and its constitution. Saturday, 18 March 2023. The streets of Maputo and all the provincial capitals of Mozambique are filled with citizens who want to pay their last respects to the musician Azagaia, in previously authorized marches. With surprise, they note the massive presence of police forces that immediately act brutally to disperse the crowd, using tear gas and rubber bullets. Peaceful participants were injured and some arrested. In Nampula, a participating citizen was stripped naked, bound, blindfolded, burned with hot water, beaten and kicked for two hours by police special forces.

These events deeply shocked Mozambican society and several recognized voices denounced their unconstitutionality. João Feijó, a researcher at the Rural Environment Observatory, said in statements to Lusa that the authorities are “completely denying constitutional rights and [political] participation, free expression and freedom of assembly.” The performance of the police, he continued, reproduces a “sinister” context, with “fascist tics of colonial times”, against which Frelimo resorted to armed struggle.

Renowned journalist Fernando Lima said this situation reminded him of South Africa during apartheid, when police used dogs and tear gas against peaceful protesters.

The United Nations Human Rights Office also spoke out against the unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by police in the midst of peaceful marches, calling for the immediate release of detainees and the investigation of alleged violations.

Only three days after the march, the deputy head of the police came to publicly justify the police action, alleging “evidence” of violence on the part of the participants. He also accused NGOs, independent media and opposition parties of fostering an environment of violence. For his part, President Nyusi remained silent for four days and, in the face of widespread criticism, he was left to announce the carrying out of investigations into the police action, while noting that they would also fall on the identification “of those who sought to take advantage of the individual virtue of the young rapper Azagaia to achieve their intentions.”

This police action is part of an environment of increasing repression of criticism of the government. Two laws are being prepared, one that will restrict press freedom and the other that will control NGOs. Recently, President Nyusi warned that “surveillance” within Frelimo against infiltrators critical of the government should be increased.

Coinciding with the incidents, the U.S. State Department’s latest annual human rights report states on Mozambique that impunity and corruption among Mozambican security forces and officials remain “significant problems.” Key human rights concerns include credible reports of illegal or arbitrary executions and extrajudicial disappearances” by government forces or their “agents,” such as militias, in Cabo Delgado, the report says.

This growing crackdown is set against the backdrop of President Nyusi’s attempt to serve a third term from 2024. That would be unconstitutional, which does not prevent the mainstream within Frelimo, which supports Nyusi, from attempting it by all means at its disposal.

The death of the musical idol Azagaia, who in his rap “People in Power” spread throughout the country the message “A Mozambique for all”, strongly worries Frelimo, who for years has been dedicated to the “capture of the State” and intends to maintain his privileges.

Mozambique was recently admitted as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, but within the country it represses peaceful demonstrations, in clear violation of human rights, freedom of expression and the national constitution.

The NGO Justiça Ambiental condemned the silence of the international community in the face of this situation as follows:

“And the international community, the donors and development partners, the supposed references of human rights and democracy, do not speak out in the face of these events, they are only murmuring in the corridors, because it is not appropriate to criticize the government on which they depend to continue to exploit our gas, heavy sands, coal or rubies.”

The EU maintains a low diplomatic profile (given the multiple geostrategic interests and natural resources of its member states) without any reaction to events and focuses on the areas of humanitarian, development and military aid (triple nexus). The first two fit exactly where the Mozambican government is failing, due to corruption and mismanagement (illegitimate debt). The military training mission (EUTM), incidentally under the Portuguese leadership, has so far had no observable impact on the violent conflict in Cabo Delgado province.

The question now arises more than ever how it intends to ensure that the rapid reaction force it trained and equipped in Mozambique is not used in the future against peaceful citizen protests. To date, EUTM has not provided any answer to this question.

And Portugal? Nor have official reactions been heard from Portugal to the dramatic events, as opposed to enthusiastic statements regarding cooperation with Mozambique, such as those made by Prime Minister António Costa last November: “The reunion in Lisbon with the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, two months after our Summit in Maputo, comes at a particularly dynamic moment in our bilateral relationship, thanks to the commitment and dynamism of our comprehensive and strategic partnership.” During his visit a year ago, despite already clear signs of corruption, human rights violations and autocratic tendencies in the government, M.R. de Sousa warmly emphasized: “Mozambique is always better than it was last time.” “Mozambique has a future”!

The obvious totalitarianism and repression in Mozambique do not prevent Portugal from continuing to focus on flourishing business, even if it is complicit in a government that despises the rights of its people. For the EU and Portugal, in these circumstances, the words of Desmond Tutu apply: “If we remain neutral in the face of an injustice, we choose the side of the oppressor.”

 


 

2. Compulsory military service in Mozambique to be increased to five years

 

Mozambique’s government has introduced a Bill in Parliament to increase compulsory military service from two years to five years. According to military sources, this is a classic step in preparation for war. The question arises: war against whom? Mozambique Insights says that:” (Frelimo) known for long deliberations has morphed into an authoritarian group comprising the chairperson and his small clique. Unfortunately this authoritarian group has a stranglehold on the larger society and the consequences seem dire. It is increasingly clear that plans are underfoot to silence civil society organizations and other national actors who are critical of the regime and status quo – more and more police flex their muscle to repress any perceived dissent; and Nyusi’s speeches peppered with the words “enemies of democracy”. Compulsory military service years to increase from two to five – Mozambique Insights

 


 

3. Statistics reveal scale of destruction over one month period

 

From October to November 2022, the district of Namuno, in Cabo Delgado province, suffered a sequence of terrorist attacks that caused the death of 16 people and six injuries, 1,294 houses burned, two vehicles, six motorbikes, 22 bicycles, six tents, a mosque and three churches vandalized by the group of terrorists at the district level.

The data were advanced this Tuesday, March 28, 2023, by the Administrator of the district of Namuno, Maria Lázaro, speaking in Pemba, at the VI Ordinary Session of the Provincial Executive Council of Cabo Delgado. “In Hucula, three people were killed, two cars and four plasms were burned. In Murameia, they murdered 11 people, one of the people was the secretary of the village, they injured six people and all have already recovered. 61 houses were burned, one tractor with trailer, four motorbikes, four bicycles and three tents. In the village of Mmawe, they burned 750 houses, a miller, a motorbike and four bicycles,” the administrator explained. Continuing, she said that “in the village of Cimeio, the terrorists burned 91 houses, a school building with three rooms, 100 desks, a church and five bicycles. Already in the administrative post of Namuno-headquarters, one person was killed and 29 houses burned, in the village of Pararame, 222 houses, a classroom, a church and a miller were burned, in the village of Nanrapa a person was killed by beheading. In the village of Namituri, one person was seriously injured, burned 141 houses, nine bicycles, a motor bomb, three tents, a Catholic church and vandalization of material from a mosque,” Maria Lázaro said. In the period from December 2022 to February 2023, there was the registration of 1,181 families and 686 houses affected by natural disasters, of which 582 houses were totally destroyed by rains in that district of Cabo Delgado. Terrorism in Namuno: From October to November 2022, 16 people were murdered and more than 1000 houses burned (integritymagazine.co.mz)

 


 

4. Latest incidents in Cabo Delgado

Following recent incursions by insurgents into Niassa and Nampula provinces, the commander of police in Inhambane, Feliciano Chongo, has denied that the insurgents are active in Inhambane. Chongo says it is false that the gangs have invaded the districts of Morrumbenne, Hormoine, Maxixe, and the provincial capital, Inhambane City. “The police does not confirm this type of information. The police have no knowledge of terrorist infiltration, and no alleged terrorists have been arrested. That’s the information the police have. I must state clearly that what is being spread on social media is not true,” he says. https://clubofmozambique.com/news/no-terrorist-groups-ininhambane-say-police-235283/

Groups of insurgents are making inroads into Macomia do Praia, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado. According to local reports, over 20 men have been, at various times, been seen by the local population walking around the villages of Ningaia, Manica, and Rueia, in the administrative area of Mucojo. “The population of these areas was not violated; on the contrary, the terrorists held friendly talks, appealing to them not to be afraid of them and to continue to do their activities normally,” according to a local source. Locals claim they are led by a well-known insurgent commander, known as Mahamudo Saha. Saha is a main advocate of radical Islam in Macomia, more especially in Mucojo and Rueja, where he was born and raised. Recently, some people who had returned to the area after fleeing violence were made to attend a meeting called by the local group of insurgents, at which meeting they were told to follow Islam and the Quran, otherwise face consequences. In Palma, although things have settled down and Total has indicated an imminent reopening of its Liquefied Natural Gas project in the area, things are still shaky. According to a report by the UN High Commission of Refugees, the region is still under pressures of heavy poverty, “despite improved security conditions. The security condition I Palma has improved since the attacks two years ago, but the population remains in extremely precarious protection and living conditions. (However) More than 70 000 people have returned to their homes and 20 000 internally displaced persons have found shelter in cities in other areas. UNHCR is working closely with a range of actors, including the Government, to provide urgent protection and assistance services to displaced people and their host communities.” https://clubofmozambique.com/news/terrorists-step-up-presence-in-macomia-235317/

This past Tuesday, an unknown group of violent men attacked a village in Cabo Delgado, in the Mitope village in Mocimboa da Praia district, and killed at least three people, abducting about 10 others in the process. a local resident, a 69 year old woman who remained anonymous said, “We were surprised yesterday around 18:00; ‘terrorists’ appeared and beheaded three people, a neighbor of mine and two from the local force. It’s sad because we are close to security here in Awasse.” she says they fled by foot all night from Mitope to Awasse, in search of safety. someone else who also fled had this to say: “They took our family members, 10 in total, they are eight women and two children who we don’t know where they went.” locals have implored the authorities to help them, with the local militia saying they are doing their level best but need official assistance “We are working to make sure this doesn’t happen again and the authorities have already been informed. We will not rest until peace reigns again here in Mitope.” https://clubofmozambique.com/news/terrorists-murder-and-kidnap-in-cabo-delgado-235105/

 

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