By Venus N Msyani
Arresting Zambians as they enter the country because they criticized President Hakainde Hichilema while outside the country seems to be an effort to muzzle freedom of expression.
We should not forget to remind human rights defenders and activists including Amnesty International and the international community to pay attention to that.
While in South Africa where he had gone for personal business, Chilufya Tayali repeatedly criticized President Hakainde Hichilema and his government through a live Facebook broadcast.
On Thursday, September 29th the Economic and Equity Party (EEP) president who happens to be a resident of Lusaka, was arrested in Livingstone on his arrival from South Africa.
Every Zambia believes that if Mr. Tayali had been allowed to reach Lusaka, drop the luggage home, say hello to his family, and then asked to report himself to the police, it would have not caused any danger to the public.
It is the very reason why the author has arrived at the above conclusion.
After his arrest in Livingstone, Mr. Tayali was transferred to Lusaka. On Sunday, October 1, after more than 48 hours of legal detention, it is alleged that Tayali assaulted a female police officer with a kettle.
It should be understood. Mr. Tayali was undergoing emotional abuse at the time of the assault. Exceptionally few people would be themselves under such treatment.
Welcomed like a terrorist, kept in custody beyond 48 hours, with no access to a phone, and no visitors. Very few people would be okay under such treatment. Criticizing the president while outside the country is not a terrorist act for Zambians to be treated that way.
Hoping my conclusion makes sense. Arresting Zambians as they enter the country because they criticized President Hichilema while outside the country is an effort to muzzle freedom of expression.
The just-ended Tayali’s prolonged arrest and its hash treatment are meant to induce fear. To be specific, to stop the Zambian community in the diaspora from criticizing the new dawn administration.
This article is a call for help. Individuals, the church, human rights defenders and activists, Amnesty International, and the international community at large should stand up for Zambians. Chilufya Tayali should be the last person to be arrested at the entry for criticizing the president while outside Zambia.
Zambians have the right to express themselves inside and outside the country.