The barbaric and discriminatory conduct of Zambia Police who arrested and confiscated students’ t-shirts while condoning unruly conduct of PF cadres wearing red berets and military fatigue has been roundly condemned.
Leading the assault is opposition National Restoration Party(NAREP) who have demanded for an explanation from the Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani on why she allowed her officers to arrest and undress innocent youths.
NAREP youth league chairman Wilson Banda said it was wrong for the police whose job was to maintain law and order to arrest innocent youths and strip female youths who were only celebrating their day.
And NGOCC board chairperson Beatrice Grillo said her organization was deeply concerned with the increased levels of intolerance of divergent views and attempts by the Party in Government to stifle fundamental rights of expression and assembly as enshrined in the Republican constitution.
She said it was totally unacceptable for the PF government to resort to using State agents to intimidate citizens for demanding that which was rightly theirs and urged all Zambians not to be intimidated in their quest for a new people driven constitution.
“The detention and stripping of the youths on Youth Day is not only barbaric but undemocratic and an assault on our hard earned democracy. The stripping was at most against the fundamental human rights of the young girls and boys.
Grillo said the constitution belongs to the Zambian people and the PF Government would not succeed in intimidating citizens on their demands for the constitution.
She said the correct thing for the PF Government to do is to immediately give the Zambian people what is due to them – a people driven constitution and that police should remain professional and desist from being used.
“NGOCC requests the Inspector General of Police Ms Stella Libongani to immediately institute investigations so that the officers who assaulted the young girls can be brought to book.
“As a woman herself, we believe that Ms Libongani will not preside over a police service which abuses the rights of girls and women. NGOCC will in the meantime, conduct its own investigations to get to the bottom of the stripping of the young girls,” she said.
Grillo noted that it was becoming abundantly clear that the PF was determined to deny the people of Zambia a people driven constitution and assured the PF that no amount of intimidation or propaganda would stop the Zambian people from demanding a new constitution.
“As NAREP youths, we are demanding for an explanation from the Inspector General of Police Ms Stella Libongani as to why she allowed her officers to arrest innocent youths without charge and went further to undress her fellow women. It is sad that women are not respected despite the emphasis by various organisations and individuals including Ms Libongani herself to respect women,” Banda said.
He also said his party was demanding for an explanation from the Army Commander on why his soldiers who paraded at the Youth Celebrations allowed the PF Cadres to be in military fatigue when a few years back, it was agreed that any civilian found in military gear was to be arrested.
He said it was disappointing for Scott to lie to the world that the opposition political parties did not attend the march past because they had no numbers to show.
“We the NAREP youths want to thank all our youths who turned up in numbers to practice one of our 8 core values which is ‘sense of community’ by helping our poor Zambians in various communities in Lusaka, Eastern and Copperbelt Provinces,” he said.
And Operation Young Vote said the arresting and stripping of about 42 innocent youths from Action Aid Zambia by the police during the Youth Day celebrations in Lusaka on Wednesday is an infringement on the freedom of expression
OYV executive director Guess Nyirenda said the police action on the youths had dented the peace and tranquility that Zambia has enjoyed for 50 years.
Nyirenda said that it was unacceptable that youths could be intimidated for demanding for the constitution, adding that it appeared that asking for the constitution in Zambia was now a crime.
“The T-shirts were not insulting, demeaning or suggesting violence to or with anyone, and the action by the police is totally unacceptable,” he said.He said it was shameful that the same youths who supported the PF to form government had become criminals for merely expressing themselves through a T-shirt.