Amnesty International calls Mtambo petrol bomb cowardly, cadet arrested


Amnesty International has called the petrol bombing of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) national chairperson Timothy Mtambo as cowardly and an attempt to intimidate human rights works.

Mtambo’s house and car were attacked on the night of August 14-15, 2019 after receiving threats for being vocal in organising demonstrations against the presidential result of the May 21st elections which saw Peter Muthalika win a second term in office.

Malawi Police Services have since arrested a member of the youth wing of the Democratic Progressive Party ‘cadets’ Paul Kawaza in Nkhatabay but the party spokesperson has distanced themselves saying they do not know him.

Nicholas Dausi said the regional governor told him they do not know him as such the law should take its course.

Northern region police spokesperson Peter Kalaya said Kawawa was found with a rifle and other weapons and they are questioning him.

AI Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said the act was clearly designed to deter Mtambo from carrying out his duties.

Mwananyanda said: “This cowardly and malicious attack on Timothy Mtambo’s property is a clear act of intimidation, designed to deter him from carrying out his human rights work. Timothy and his family narrowly escaped harm after three petrol bombs were thrown into his compound.  One hit and torched his car while the second was thrown at the gate and the last narrowly missed his house.

“There must be no stone left unturned in pursuit of those who are behind this attack. The authorities must launch a prompt, impartial and effective investigation and ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice in fair trials."

The incident comes weeks after Mtambo received threats for organising demonstrations over allegations of mismanagement of the May 21 elections.

The Deputy Director added that the Malawian authorities must stop singling out critical voices for attack and instead commit to respecting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.