The United Transformation Movement (UTM) has demanded the release of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) members who were arrested last night.
Police nabbed the organisation’s vice chairperson Gift Trapence and member Reverend McDonald Sembereka, in relation to their planned demonstration at the State House on 25th March.
UTM has released a poster captioned “release HRDC now, Malawi is not a police state”.
The poster bears the faces of Trapence, Sembereka and the grouping’s chairperson Timothy Mtambo who is also wanted by the police.
In a statement, UTM spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said the arrest of the two is a response to threats and orders issued by President Peter Mutharika and other speakers at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rally held on Sunday.
“The nation should be worried when politicians abuse their privileged positions to use state organs in fighting their opponents,” he said.
Malunga added that the Malawi Police Service has stopped serving the public and is now at the beck and call of ruling party politicians.
He then condemned the DPP and Malawi Police for the acts of impunity. He also called for the immediate release of the activists.
On social media, some Malawians expressed support for the call.
“HRDC has done nothing wrong to deserve such an action. What is this country turning into?” Asks Malumbo Gondwe.
Another social media user Tadala Mkwaila wrote: “Shame! Shame! Malawi’s democracy. I can smell those dark days.”
Meanwhile, HRDC members are planning a nationwide demonstration against the arrest of their colleagues.
In Rumphi, the demonstration plan has reached a mature stage as people will take to the streets tomorrow.