Exactly a month after police crackdown of peaceful protests, small groups of Mozambican youth on Tuesday took to streets to raise awareness to the right to hold peaceful demonstrations.
On 18 March, citizens who had previously informed municipal authorities on their wishes to march peaceful to pay their respects to rapper Edson da Luz, known by his stage name Azagaia, who died on 9 March from an epileptic seizure.
However, police had other thoughts and came out in full force and cracked down on the protesters not only in Maputo, but in other cities except for the central city of Quelimane.
A month later, citizens in small groups of two to four youths stood by traffic lights in various Mozambican capitals, wearing t-shirts printed with the number 51, and lifting placards which called attention to the right to assembly and demonstrations – the number 51 alludes to article 51 of the Constitution of the Republic which reads that all citizens have the right to freedom of assembly and demonstrations regulated by law.
The demonstrators also asked what had happened to the report of the commission of enquiry promised by President Filipe Nyusi.
Luckily, the small demonstrations went without incident.
Police seemed to have been caught unawares, with no inkling that the youths would stage such an ingenious demonstration.
Mozambique Insights understands that all the youths want is the right to pay their respects to Azagaia without being police curtailing their freedom to do so. But this is going to be difficult as government and police have shown that they will not respect the Constitution.
Indeed, the ruling Frelimo party Secretary General attacked over the weekend those youths he said were not behaving patriotically by organising demonstrations. Meanwhile, demonstrations organised by Frelimo’s own social bodies go on unhindered.
But young people seem to have hung to every word uttered by social activist Graça Machel, who recently denounced what she called a climate of fear and urging Mozambicans to “dismantle fear” in an organised manner, in an orderly manner, in a manner respectful of the institutions.
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