The Inspector General
Malawi Police Headquarters
Lilongwe. Dear Sir,
PROGRESSIVE PARTY (DPP) BY THE POLICE I wish to write you about the increasing harassment
of the Democratic Progressive Party President and his
followers by the Police. This is undemocratic and
completely uncalled for. It is in fact unconstitutional
and against our democratic and constitutionally
guaranteed human rights. I must express our grave concerns and demand an
immediate stop to the intimidating and oppressive
practices as stated below: On 29th April, 2013 our President, Rt Hon Prof Arthur
Peter Mutharika was leaving from a court hearing at
the Magistrates Court in Lilongwe. As a law abiding
citizen, he proceeded to report for his bail at the
Central Region Police Headquarters. He was escorted
by his supporters who were peacefully singing and chanting to give moral support to their leader. On his way back from the Police, the peaceful singing
and chanting continued; the Police were fully present
in the crowd and there was no violence, chaos or
disturbance of peace whatsoever. It was all very
orderly. When they had cleared the Police premises
completely, the Police ambushed this peaceful crowd
which was departing, and threw tear-gas canisters,
one directly at the DPP President’s vehicle and others
willy-nilly into the crowd which was voluntarily and
peacefully leaving the scene. Although the exploding tear-gas canister did not
injure the DPP President, it caused him much
discomfort and exposed him to grave medical
danger. This equally applied to other dignitaries
around him and to the other supporters in general. The DPP President was only fulfilling his bail
obligations at the Police and the followers were only
exercising their constitutional rights as they escorted
their leader peacefully. We therefore expected
protection and facilitation of this exercise by the
Police in this democratic era. We must however deplore this unwarranted and unprovoked tear-
gassing of the peaceful and unarmed Malawian
citizens. This conduct was in every respect deplorable
and unacceptable especially now as we approach the
tripartite elections. You may recall that recently, with Police permission,
the DPP President also conducted a whistle-stop tour
from Lilongwe to Kasungu with stops at Lumbadzi,
Mponela, Ntchisi, Malomo and Mtunthama. He
addressed crowds at Lumbadzi and Mponela
uneventfully. But for some strange reason, after addressing a meeting at Ntchisi, your officers
impounded the DPP public address vehicle. This
effectively incapacitated the President and prevented
him from addressing even larger crowds which had
gathered at subsequent stops on the tour. This again, was completely unacceptable, legally
baseless, and senseless Police arrogance. It was a
blatant affront to civility and poor judgment by the
Police because they provoked some avoidable
violent confrontation from some members of the
crowd. We restrained these violent elements, and the Police after considerable delays, released the vehicle.
They charged us with the offense of driving a vehicle
with an amber overhead light without Police
authority. The tour continued after these
unnecessary delays. Needless to say, this outbreak of
violence and delays were avoidable. It is most unfortunate because the Police, we hear, were only
trying to please a misguided local Peoples’ Party
politician. As a law abiding citizen, the DPP President
subsequently sent his officials to Lilongwe Police to
answer the road traffic charge. They were instructed
to go to Ntchisi Police instead, which they obliged. We
understand that the penalty for this charge is a fine of
about K10, 000. We were however horrified that the court fined us K200, 000. Realizing that this was part
of the senseless harassment campaign, the President
ordered his team to pay the ridiculous fine. Earlier still, the President had another whistle-stop
tour, again with Police permission, to address people
at stop-over’s. Despite the Police clearance, the
District Commissioner and Officer-in-Charge of Police
at Ntcheu stopped him from addressing a very large
crowd at Ntcheu Boma. We understand that this was on instruction from yet another Peoples’ Party
politician. Subsequent stops at Chingeni and Phalula
were uneventful. However, at Lunzu, the DPP
President was prevented from speaking to his
supporters and the large crowd was dispersed by
tear gas. In yet another Police-sanctioned tour from Blantyre
to Lilongwe via Zomba, the DPP President spoke to
people at Zomba without any incident. However, he
found that the huge crowd that had just gathered at
Domasi was being tear-gassed in an attempt to
disperse them. Apparently, the idea was to create the impression that the DPP President had no supporters
at the home of the State President, i.e., Domasi area.
Nevertheless, the large crowd regrouped and the
DPP President was able to speak to them. The pattern or scheme here is quite clear. The Police
are often instructed and some of them are even
determined to harass and prevent the DPP leader
from addressing his supporters anywhere in Malawi.
The aim is to instill fear in people so that they should
not gather in large numbers around the DPP President. Despite these blatant, uncivilized and unwarranted
provocations, the DPP President and his followers
have remained resolute and patient. They have
avoided violent confrontations as much as possible. We must however inform you, and we are sure that
you know this, that there is a limit to how much
people can tolerate such brutality and unnecessary
provocations. We will continue to do everything
possible to restrain our people because we value the
peace and calm that prevails and we believe in law and order. But at the same time we must urge you Mr
IG to put an immediate stop to this senseless
behavior by your officers. It is also our hope and
strong desire that in the interest of peace and
democracy among Malawians, you will be
professional and resist the misguided temptations and thoughtless influence of some greedy politicians
who want to abuse the Police for their ill-conceived
political schemes. Yours sincerely, DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY Hon. Dr Jean A. N. Kalilani, MP

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