Hundreds of police armed with automatic weapons and water cannon blocked access to the main opposition Movement For Democratic Change party’s offices on 16 August in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. The government banned the demonstration against a worsening economy, and the situation escalated with forced arrests of the protesters.
The European Union expressed on 20 August its deep concerns by the intimidation, harassment and physical attacks on human rights defenders, trade union and civil society representatives, and opposition politicians:
“The Heads of Mission call on the authorities to respect the constitutional rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression as well as to peaceful protest, and urge all political party leaders and supporters to abstain from threats and incitement to violence as well as acts of violence or vandalism. The security forces must adhere to their Constitutional mandate and exercise restraint and proportionality while maintaining public order”, reads the statement in which the Union reiterates its calls for the implementation of the government’s political and economic reform agenda, and inclusive national dialogue.