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Zimbabwe Police Arrests Pastor Calling for Anti-government Protests


FILE - Holding a Bible, Pastor Evan Mawarire walks into the court building while handcuffed to his driver, Ocean Chihota, in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 28, 2017. (S. Mhofu/VOA)

Zimbabwe police have arrested activist and pastor Evan Mawarire for broadcasting a message on social media calling for Zimbabweans to demonstrate against the current shortage of fuel and the sudden price hikes of commodities in shops.

As he was leading a church service Sunday, Zimbabwe police were waiting for Mawarire outside. The leader of His Generation Church had broadcast a video Saturday calling for Zimbabweans to protest against fuel shortages and recent price increases of most commodities.

Attorney Harrison Nkomo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is representing of the clergyman who is also the leader of #thisflag movement that last year led several anti-government protests.

FILE - Harrison Nkomo from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who is representing Pastor Evan Mawarire, speaks to reporters in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 28, 2017. (S. Mhofu/VOA)
FILE - Harrison Nkomo from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who is representing Pastor Evan Mawarire, speaks to reporters in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 28, 2017. (S. Mhofu/VOA)

“Evan was arrested and he is facing a charge of subverting a constitutionally elected government. It is emanating from a video he published yesterday concerning fuel queues and price hikes in the shops,” he said.

Pastor Mawarire is expected to appear in court Monday. Saturday, the U.S. government issued a statement asking Harare to allow a fair trial for Mawarire who is facing a separate charge of trying to subvert President Robert Mugabe’s government.

FILE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addressing members of his ZANU-PF party at a football stadium in Lupane, about 600km south west of Zimbabwe's capital (S. Mhofu/VOA)
FILE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addressing members of his ZANU-PF party at a football stadium in Lupane, about 600km south west of Zimbabwe's capital (S. Mhofu/VOA)

Mawarire was defiant before he was arrested Sunday.

“Zimbabwe, God loves you. Zimbabwe, you will be free," he said. "There is [no] bondage or operation [that] will hold you back. We will not fear anybody. They [police] are outside here. They are waiting. I will not be afraid. I will not be put into fear. I will go outside now and see where this will lead us. I do not know what will happen.”

In Zimbabwe, the charge of trying to topple the president carries a 20 year prison term.

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