Malawi: Mysterious incidents around human rights activists
Since people started organizing themselves in activist and human rights groups and carried their dissatisfaction with the current government to the streets some mysterious incidents occurred.
Last Saturday, September 24th, Robert Chasowa, a student from University of Malawi, was found dead on the campus of Polytechnic. The Malawian Police concluded in their report Chasowa committed suicide. His parents got a farewell letter wherein he apologized for killing himself. Since that letter hasn’t got any signature and it is not proven that Chasowa really wrote it himself his friends and family do not believe he really committed suicide. Nyassatimes.com reported many Malawians question the credibility of the police report.
Robert Chasowa has been an active part in the past student protests around the fight for academic freedom. Besides that Police spokesperson Willie Mwaluka confirmed that Chasowa was a wanted person in Malawi. After he got certain death threats because of his anti-governmental activities he had been hiding.
Thousands of people attended on Monday the burial ceremony in Blantyre. Deputy secretary general from the oppositional party United Democratic Front (UDF) Hophmally Makande called the DPP government from president Bingu wa Mutharika accountable for Chasowas death. Malawi Human Rights Commission for its part announced to come up with an independent investigation to clarify the mysterious death of Robert Chasowas.
Another worrying incident occurred Sunday night in Lilongwe where leading human rights activist Peter Chinoko from the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) got attacked in his house. Chinoko has been one of the leading activists in the anti governmental protests which recently criticized the current government of Mutharika. People suspect regime thugs to be accountable for the attack.
Such incidents as reported above question if freedom of speech and academic freedom in Malawi still exist. Furthermore it is questionable how the government is going to answer the recent reproaches to be responsible for these assaults.