June 9, 2024
On October 29 the Zanzibar Electoral Commission announced that Hussein Ali Mwinyi of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, had won the election for President of Zanzibar a

By Human Rights Watch
Published December 1, 2021

Zanzibar has experienced election-related violence in the past, especially during the 2000 and 2015 elections.The Tanzanian government has not held security forces and aligned militia accountable for killings in Zanzibar during the 2020 elections.

At least 14 people died and 55 were injured as police, soldiers and armed men in civilian clothes teargassed and shot at crowds, between October 26 and 30, 2020. The armed men also arbitrarily arrested, detained, and tortured opposition supporters on Zanzibar’s main islands of Unguja and Pemba. Neither the Tanzanian central authorities nor the Zanzibari authorities have acknowledged, let alone investigated, the full scale and toll of the violence, despite a public outcry within the country, and calls for investigations, including by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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“Tanzania’s authorities have not taken steps to ensure justice for family members of those who died, and survivors of the serious abuses that marred Zanzibar’s 2020 elections,” said Oryem Nyeko, Tanzania researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The leaders of both Zanzibar and Tanzania should demonstrate their commitment to justice by ensuring accountability and compensation for survivors and the families of those who died at the hands of government security forces.”

Around October 26, 2020, the Tanzanian government deployed an estimated 10,000 security forces to Unguja and Pemba islands in Zanzibar, just before Zanzibar’s two-day voting period on October 27 and 28. The residents interviewed said that security forces patrolled the streets, harassed residents and beat them, brandishing guns and chasing them away from public spaces, broke into homes, and indiscriminately fired teargas and live bullets. They imposed and enforced curfews, beating those who did not comply, and arbitrarily arrested residents, detaining some in unofficial sites for weeks. This climate of fear caused many people to flee affected areas across Zanzibar.

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On October 29 the Zanzibar Electoral Commission announced that John Magufuli, also of the CCM, had been re-elected President of Tanzania.On the evenings of October 26, 27, and 28 security forces shot into crowds near polling places on Pemba Island, killing at least nine people, including a 16-year-old student and a pregnant woman. On October 28 the violence and the chaos intensified as Zanzibar Electoral Commission officials counted the votes and the Mazombi, a Zanzibar government-aligned militia group, chased and beat up people.

The Zanzibar authorities also attempted to control media coverage of abuses by blocking accredited journalists from filming security officials and entering some polling places. Police detained three journalists covering an opposition protest for an hour on October 29 in Zanzibar City, Unguja.

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On October 29 the Zanzibar Electoral Commission announced that Hussein Ali Mwinyi of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, had won the election for president of Zanzibar and that John Magufuli, also of the CCM, had been re-elected President of Tanzania.

On October 29 the Zanzibar Electoral Commission announced that Hussein Ali Mwinyi of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, had won the election for President of Zanzibar aThe only official acknowledgment of the killings came on November 11, 2020, from the Tanzanian Inspector General of Police, Simon Sirro, who told the media that only two people had died during ‘sporadic violence’ on October 26 and that opposition supporters killed a policeman on October 28. He did not address allegations of police involvement in the killings.

Zanzibar has experienced election-related violence in the past, especially during the 2000 and 2015 elections.

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