Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page


The CUF had planned four demonstrations in Zanzibar: One in Zanzibar Town and three in the Pemba Island towns of Wete, Micheweni, and Chake Chake. In each case, the CUF supporters were to meet at their local party offices early in the morning, and then walk together to central meeting points on the main roads, then gather to hear political speeches. The police were notified by the CUF of these routes several days in advance. All demonstrators had been ordered by CUF to refrain from violence;35 CUF leaders told them to tie a white cloth on the upper right arm, and to leave at home machetes and knives (which many Pembans, as farmers, carry as a matter of course). Some carried plastic bags filled with water to wash their faces in case of tear gas.

The demonstrations were widely supported, with thousands turning out to protest. As the unarmed demonstrators walked peacefully toward the four designated meeting grounds, security forces intercepted their routes. In Zanzibar town, police intervention successfully prevented the demonstration. In Chake Chake, Wete, and Micheweni, demonstrators did assemble and attempt the procession, but many were stopped and turned back. Thousands of villagers from Mkoani region, south of Pemba, tried to get to Chake Chake, but were turned back near Mtambile. Dozens were beaten and arrested by the security forces.

In some cases, security forces opened fire on demonstrators without warning. In other cases, when demonstrators ignored orders to disperse, police, army, and ruling party militia members attacked them, firing, beating, and pursuing people fleeing the scene. Some police shot injured people who were lying on the ground. As demonstrators fled, police pursued them in cars. Demonstrators were also shot by police snipers and from a helicopter that circled the gatherings. Local residents were ordered to stay in their homes, and threatened and assaulted by the security forces and ruling party supporters in their homes and on the streets of their towns.

Wete, Pemba Island
Some of the worst violence on January 27, 2001, occurred in Wete town in northern Pemba. Although exact numbers are not known, Human Rights Watch was able to confirm that security forces killed at least thirteen people, wounded 213 and detained over 400 participants in the demonstration. Wete is a town of nearly 10,000 people in northwest Pemba. As the home area of the CUF leader Seif Shariff Hamad, it is often portrayed by CCM as the center of political opposition.

Demonstrators had been instructed to peacefully gather at designated sites to the east and west of the town. At a given signal, demonstrators were to march toward the town center, forming a unified group at the Fourways roundabout. From there, the plan was to march together through the town center, past the police station and central market, to the football field behind the courthouse, where CUF leaders would deliver speeches.

But this peaceful demonstration never occurred. As demonstrators gathered at three designated points, waiting police and security forces ordered them to disperse-firing shots and beating participants when they did not. Police used rubber bullets in one instance in Miti Ulaya, wounding one man, but at the Fourways roundabout and to the east at Kifumbikai, they used live ammunition without warning, continuing to shoot into the crowd in some places even as demonstrators fled. Some inhabitants, wounded in the violence or deterred by this show of force, abandoned the demonstration. But the majority, numbering in the thousands, continued on.

Police lines assembled in the center of Wete at the Fourways roundabout, where the road from the north meets Wete's main road, and at two points to the east, Chasasa and Limbani, were unable to stop the advance. Firing rounds into the air and directly into the crowd, the police from the east slowly retreated to the Fourways roundabout while security forces continued to beat and shoot at people. At Chasasa, dozens were wounded by bullets, and at least one person, Kombo Ali Abdallah, was killed as the police retreated. At the Fourways roundabout the police opened fire without warning as demonstrators approached. The crowds, apparently enraged by the violent reaction of the police, threw bricks and rocks at the forces driving them back, and one police officer was killed by demonstrators.

At the roundabout, with additional reinforcements brought in, the security forces fired on the demonstrators, killing several and wounding many others. The demonstrators, particularly well-known opposition members, then fled for their lives, pursued by the security forces. Many were beaten in the following hours. Still others were arrested and tortured. By the afternoon, the streets were largely deserted, save for the roaming bands of security forces searching for participants.36

Approaching Wete Town

In anticipation of the gathering, police lined up in groups on both sides of the main thoroughfare. Residents were warned to stay in their homes, and in the neighborhoods of Utaani, Jadida and Kipangani, people going to the mosques to pray were turned back by police and beaten if they resisted. Along the road into Wete, police were deployed to intercept demonstrators coming from the rural areas to the east, and turn them away. Numbering in the thousands, villagers who had been turned away from the main roads relied on their knowledge of the back paths to continue on to Wete. In Wete, police had been patrolling neighborhoods since dawn, ordering people inside and arresting those who refused to leave the main pathways. By 6:15 a.m., they had rounded up more than one hundred residents and were holding them at the police station.37 Although the regional police commander for northern Pemba was identified by witnesses as being at the police station on the morning of January 27, 2001, he reportedly played no active role in the abuses. District commanding officer, Omar Ummea, under the regional police commander's authority, however, was repeatedly identified by eyewitnesses as having ordered his police to shoot at demonstrators.

Outside Wete town at Madenjani and Mzambarauni, arriving marchers found police already waiting for them:

About fifty of us arrived on foot at Madenjani, where we were going to wait for the people from Kojani. We saw about 600 people already there, and saw that the police had come. There were two vehicles full of them, about twenty officers. They stepped down and started throwing tear gas pellets at us. They didn't give any orders. We dispersed.38

One eyewitness who approached the town from the east stated:

Three police officers came from Wete side. They stood in the middle of the road, and they put one of their weapons on the ground and knelt behind it. It wasn't an ordinary rifle. They started shooting at us, and I saw six people in front of me fall to the ground. The rifle had a strong, repetitive sound. Others must have been hiding in the alleyways, because there was shooting coming also from the sides of the road...I saw police officers hiding in the bushes, shooting into the road. People were falling down. A man from Chwale [Juma Bakar Juma] died right beside me.39

Undeterred, demonstrators continued to try and convene at the designated meeting spot. As they took to the road again, armed police deployments in vehicles drove by. Police commanding officer Omar Ummea passed through Chasasa in one of the vehicles, reportedly shouting, "Shoot! Shoot! Shoot the women in the legs, and kill the men."40 Officers in open-body trucks drove by firing into the crowds. One woman recalled a riot policeman (FFU) at Kifumbikai chasing people in the alleyways:

When I got to my neighbor's house, I saw Abbas get shot. He was still a child. I bound him with my shawl and took him to a place to keep him out of trouble. On the way I came across another woman who had also been shot in the chest. A little further ahead I came across another woman who had fallen down. She had been shot in the stomach.41

A seventeen-year-old boy, shot in the leg at Chasasa, reported that the FFU were "shooting at the injured people who were lying in the road to finish them off."42 At the Fourways roundabout in Mtemani, security forces shot more demonstrators. A man who was in the front line of the demonstration as it moved down the road recalled that one police officer "saw that there were about 4,000 of us, and he shot directly at us without issuing a warning."43

Wete Town: The Fourways Roundabout

Around 7:00 a.m., police and riot police reinforcements arrived at the Fourways roundabout. Some demonstrators attempted to collect the wounded and move them off the road, and others threw stones at the police. The majority pressed forward. At Mshelisheli Kibutu, hoping to confuse the security forces and thus allow demonstrators to escape from the police, who were continuing to shoot, demonstrators set fire to two metal drums of tar.44 As the smoke rose and security forces regrouped, angered participants killed police constable Mussa Haji (see section below on Abuses to Police and Government Property).45 The killing frightened and angered police. One witness, observing the Fourways roundabout, offered this account:

We saw [police district commanding officer Omar] OCD Ummea shouting, "You fools! One of your own has already been killed down there. Go on, go on, just shoot! Kill them!" It was quiet for a moment. We could see hundreds of people at the Fourways, and then the police got into two rows, facing them. The police started shooting, and the demonstrators started throwing rocks at them. Then we saw the police retreat, walking backwards, some of them still shooting, but most of them saying that they had run out of ammunition.46

After this order, police, coastguard officers, some soldiers, and some CCM militia members, came out of the police station and fired with redoubled vigor into the crowd. Some demonstrators retaliated by throwing stones at the security forces.

Human Rights Watch received many testimonies from victims and witnesses shot by the security forces. One participant recalled that:

The KMKM [coastguard] came out in large numbers then...Together with the police there were about seventy security officers. I counted forty of them with guns. All of them were shooting. One of them was shouting, "Shoot! Kill! Kill!" Everyone ran away then. I was running away, and my own trousers were torn by a bullet. I saw four people killed at that time.47

A forty-five-year-old farmer not formally affiliated with any party saw his nephew killed:

We met a group of police and FFU [riot police]. They fired into the air. We thought they were scaring us, because we didn't have any weapons, and we were clapping. As we walked towards them, they started firing live ammunition at us. We were ten feet away from them. They fired into the people. I was in the third line behind my nephew who was in the front row. He was shot between the eyes. Eight people were injured there. I took his body with others and put it into a car to take it to the village.48

The police also relied on several snipers on top of taller buildings to shoot down into the gatherings. One man, a twenty-seven-year-old farmer, was coming towards the Fourways roundabout when a sniper's bullet hit him in the leg.49 Tamasha Abeid, standing in front of a building, was shot in the thigh.50 Another witness told Human Rights Watch, "When we got to Mbelungi, a person from Chanjakombeni was shot. He was shot from above, from on top of the flats. I saw it. He died right there."51 Ali Juma Shariff, a twenty-year-old carpenter, was shot in the chest. One man who ran from the main road was shot in the hand as he leaned against a storefront.52 A sixty-year-old former teacher described what he saw:

In the group I was in, the first person to be shot, and who died after a few steps, was very close to me. Then a second person was shot in the leg, and then a third person was shot, before we had even reached the main street of Wete. The police were far away; they were on top of the buildings-the government buildings in Wete. They were aiming their bullets down into the crowd. I saw four people get shot and fall down. One of them died more or less on the spot. The police were aiming at the people.53

At the Fourways roundabout, people were shot in the back or buttocks as they retreated. As demonstrators fled, security forces even targeted residents who were not involved in the demonstration. Just off the Fourways roundabout in Bopwe, an old man speaking to his neighbor's wife, facing away from the main road, was shot through the back. The bullet came out of his chest. A witness said:

The old man fell down, and the policeman who had shot him came toward her. He aimed at her and shot her in the leg. She hid among the plantain trees just near her house. The old man was lying on the ground, panting. The police officer came, and poked him with his rifle. "He's not dead yet. Let's finish him off." And they shot him in the chest again. He died.54

As the demonstrators dispersed, police, soldiers, and militia pursued demonstrators as they left the main roads, conducting house-to-house searches and beating suspected CUF supporters. In Utaani, a young woman who had not participated in the demonstration had gone to a neighbor's house at 9:00 a.m., when the shooting was taking place at the Fourways roundabout. On her way back home, she was shot:

I saw people running and soldiers following them. The people were running into the houses to avoid the soldiers, and so I ran, too. The soldiers were firing bullets at people, and the people were coming towards me. Three of them followed us down an alley between two houses. They were five meters behind us, and shooting at us. A bullet hit me in the stomach. Three others were also shot-one in the chest, another in the ribs, and one in the hand. It was as though they just saw you, then they fired at you.55

Earlier, the security forces had sought out CUF leaders even before the demonstrators had gathered at the Fourways roundabout, soon after 6:00 a.m. Police and anti-smuggling unit officers broke into the local CUF office at Miti Ulaya and arrested CUF leader Ahmed Seif, beating him with their rifle butts and clubs.56 An eyewitness reported seeing Ahmed Seif taken into the police station with ten others who had been arrested.

The police also victimized town dwellers. As police headed to the Fourways roundabout, they noticed four people peering out of the window of a house. They broke down the door of the house, ordered all those inside to come out, including an old woman, and took them to the police station. In another case, a police officer fired his rifle into a window through which three young men were looking at them.57 One man found refuge in a house in Utaani. From a window, he saw soldiers shoot two children playing on the steps of a house. Two police also cornered a pregnant woman coming down the alley towards the house and shot her in the stomach.58

Between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., when demonstrators had already long dispersed, police also used a helicopter to survey the situation. The helicopter circled low over Wete Town, and some witnesses reported seeing a mounted weapon in its doorway, while others described seeing police inside it with hand-held guns. Several witnesses reported seeing Tanzanian police inspector-general Omar Mahita, a large and recognizable figure, in the helicopter.59 The helicopter swooped down over the houses in the center of town and later moved out towards the outskirts of Wete.

At Mangwena, a group taking two injured men to safety reported being fired on by the helicopter: "It passed back and forth when we were at Mangwena. It fired bullets at us. We dropped the injured and we ran."60 A farmer from Gando who was transporting wounded demonstrators also saw the helicopter pass and heard gunfire:

I saw a person up close get hit by a bullet from above, from the helicopter. He was hit in the shoulder close to his neck and he died. I saw three policemen in the door of the helicopter. Three people, each with a gun, firing downwards.61

A man from Mchangamdogo who had bypassed the confrontations and reached the designated meeting ground, suddenly saw his companion fall and roll down to the bottom of the hill. He ran after him, and upon turning the fallen man's body over, saw that he had been shot in the upper chest and that the bullet had emerged through his stomach. The helicopter had just flown overhead, and no police were in sight on the ground.62

Abuses to Police and Government Property

During the confrontation between the demonstrators and security officers at the Fourways roundabout, angered participants killed one member of the police, Constable Mussa Haji. According to several testimonies, some demonstrators coming from the north trampled the policeman to death, and later an unidentified assailant took a knife to the dead officer's neck, almost completely severing the head from the body. Other witnesses reported that the constable was severely beaten by several demonstrators and then killed by a member of the Blue Guard, the youth wing of the CUF, whose members were to have helped maintain security during the demonstrations. One police officer who spoke to Human Rights Watch said the commanding police officer should have ordered his men to fire on the crowd sooner.63

At least seven other policemen were brought to Wete hospital that morning, for contusions and bruises received when demonstrators threw bricks and rocks at them. A few police may also have been hurt in a fight that broke out between them on Kizimbani road over whether to use live ammunition against demonstrators.64 One coastguard (KMKM) officer was also wounded.

Demonstrators also caused damage to property, by throwing rocks and smashing windows of the government-owned Wete Hotel and damaging vehicles belonging to CCM members.65

The Government Response

The official version of the events, contradicted by the findings of Human Rights Watch, blamed demonstrators entirely for the violence. According to a statement released by Laurean Tibasana, police commissioner in Dar-es-Salaam, angry protesters converged on the police station in Wete, whereupon security forces followed correct police procedures:

Police fired tear gas at a group of 2,500 protesters coming from the north, but the protesters were undeterred and continued to throw stones and other objects. One policeman, [Mussa] Haji (badge number: E.8510 P.C.), was apparently hit by a stone and subsequently had his throat cut by the mob...When police eventually apprehended the CUF supporters they were discovered to be in possession of machetes, knives, bows and arrows, stones and petrol bombs. Their successful execution of that policeman seemed to give them the courage to attack others...They approached the police station in order to take it over and steal the weapons as well as destroy government property...Police, after seeing that their lives were in danger and after deducing that these people intended to capture the police station and take the weapons, they were forced to fire live ammunition into the air first. This did not seem to deter these people, so then they fired bullets at the legs whereupon, due to bad luck, six people among the attackers were killed, twenty-one people were injured among the attackers and six police.66

Micheweni, Pemba Island

Authorities killed an estimated eleven people, wounded fifty, detained over one hundred, and charged thirty-three at Micheweni. Micheweni is a large peninsula located at the northeast corner of Pemba. Micheweni town lies to the north of a several kilometer long stretch of dense forest. It is accessible by only one road-all pedestrian and vehicular traffic must take the road through the forest. Witnesses and victims interviewed by Human Rights Watch had mostly approached from the mainland, across the forested isthmus area toward Micheweni town. Unlike demonstrations in other locations, where town residents accounted for at least a third of the participants, at Micheweni, demonstrators from outlying villages vastly outnumbered those from the town.

Demonstrators from the south and east were to assemble at the northern mouth of the forest and move together to the school grounds in the center of Micheweni town, passing the Micheweni police station, which faces a rocky area of coral quarries that dips abruptly down into the sea. Demonstrators from the peninsula had planned to simply pass through the town and wait for their counterparts at the school grounds. When demonstrators living on the peninsula discovered that police had lined town roads, and that Micheweni residents had been ordered to remain in their homes, they changed their route. Some 200-300 demonstrators circled through pathways around Micheweni town to meet up on the other side of the town with demonstrators coming through the forest. By the time they reached the mouth of Micheweni forest, their number had risen to over 2,000.

Gathering at the Turn Off for Micheweni

As planned, thousands gathered that morning at the Kilindini turnoff, which approaches Micheweni from the south through a stretch of dense forest. They then began marching toward the town in large groups. Micheweni residents came to the outskirts of town to meet the arriving demonstrators at the northern mouth of the forest.

At 6:30 a.m., a police vehicle drove by and its occupants shot into the air, warning the demonstrators who had gathered at the mouth of Micheweni forest to disperse. When the demonstrators did not do so, the police fired into the air again and then threw teargas into the crowd.67 Some 2,000 to 3,000 demonstrators stood firm, as hundreds of other demonstrators, coming from the south, began to emerge from the forest.

One witness described: "Then a policeman began to beat a young man who was with us with a club. He beat him on the head until his head split open and he fell down."68 Police began kicking and beating demonstrators using clubs before throwing tear gas pellets at the crowds.69 One woman who witnessed the chaos said: "I saw two men being beaten with clubs by police, and fall down. One of them looked dead. I saw him being held up by two demonstrators. I saw that the police were aiming right at us. I saw a man from Mjini Wingwi get shot in the stomach near the hut. He fell down and died."70 Other policemen were hiding in the dense foliage of the forest. In one case, a man from Mgogoni was caught by six riot police who beat him with clubs and stabbed his arms and legs with their bayonets.71 As demonstrators continued to arrive, police cars arrived with reinforcements. As many as fifty armed officers got out of the cars and opened fire on the demonstrators without warning.72

Hundreds of demonstrators from the outlying areas continued to arrive in the midst of the chaos. A man from the Msuka area who arrived at 8:30 a.m. passed injured and dead bodies as his group walked through the forest:

People had already been wounded and beaten. Some of them had been shot. When we got into the forest, we saw a man who had been shot in the stomach. His intestines were hanging out. We took his body, wrapped him in a kanga cloth and got some people to carry him away, but we kept moving forward.73

Police Abuses in Micheweni

Once in the town, demonstrators were met by lines of police, arrayed in front of the police station. As in Wete, police opened fire on the demonstrators, killing several and wounding others. As the crowds dispersed, police together with CCM supporters chased the demonstrators, killing some and severely beating others. By the end of the morning, scores of civilians had been arrested; many others had been wounded but were unable to obtain medical treatment.

Several police climbed into nearby trees and shot down into the crowds.74 Behind the police station, a young man who had been heading towards the demonstration was shot in the leg. "People were falling down like chickens that have been poisoned," one observer said.75 Although police had already begun to beat demonstrators, and several demonstrators had already been shot, witnesses told Human Rights Watch that they observed the district commissioner, Ramadhan Shaib, emerge from his house flanked by four policemen during a lull in the violence, and order the police to use force.76 Some fifteen to twenty-five police officers were lined up in two rows in front of the police station. The first row knelt down and took aim, while those in the second row remained standing. The police first fired into the air, and then directly into the crowd of demonstrators. A demonstrator near the police station recalled:

District commissioner Ramadhan Shaib walked out of his house with some policemen. I heard him say, "Shoot to kill! Kill them!" We fell to the ground, and those who couldn't duck in time were shot.77

A man from Matangatuani recalled:

We saw the askaris [police] kneeling across the road. We were a whole group of no less than 3,000 people coming out of the forest, do you understand? There were women among us. So we put them in the middle, between us, and decided to go forward. After we had taken about four steps, the bullets were raining. An order came from our leaders. They said, "Lie down!" And some of us lay down...[I]t helped us a lot to lie down, I'm telling you. They shot a great many bullets. Those who were not able to lie down there, the ones who ran into the bush, they were shot in the legs, one of them in the back.78

As more demonstrators arrived in Micheweni, they reported continued shooting and confusion in the nearby forest. Chande Said was killed near the forest's mouth. A man who was beside him when he was shot in the head recalled: "His brain came out of his skull. I tried to make him say the shahada [administer last rites] but he was just whimpering." To his right, the same witness reported seeing two other men shot in the leg.79 Behind them in the forest, a group from Makangale could hear gunshots as they neared town. One man among them was beaten by two police, one using a club and the other a rifle,80 breaking his right arm and causing him to join others in flight.

Beating and Arrests of Fleeing Demonstrators

As demonstrators continued to seek shelter, many of them trying to hide near the site of the violence for fear of being shot as they ran, some sought to move those wounded to shelter and organize taking bodies home. One of those involved in trying to move the wounded stated:

The man who was shot in the chest in the forest, he died in Kinyasini while I was carrying him. I didn't get his name, but I carried his body. I carried him from Micheweni. And the others who got shot, we chose the bodies according to where they were from, so as to make plans to get them home. I was moving forward, and there was a lot of shooting. We gathered up those bodies and hid them. There were officers watching us, but they let us alone. There is a place in the Micheweni forest where I put four bodies down myself. Hemed, who was shot in the head. I put him there. And another one, a young boy named Khatib. He was shot in the side, near his waist. The bullet came out the other side. He died at four o'clock that day. I had to help him, we all had to help each other.81

While bodies were being removed, some people ran from the road into the forest. Others sought refuge in quarries situated across from the police station. In each area, people reported being beaten, or seeing others beaten, by policemen or CCM supporters.

The quarries are wet, rocky places with ditches and caves. Near the water, the area was muddy and slippery, with patches of quicksand. Mohammed Amour, a teacher from Kinyasini who had been shot in the leg, sought refuge there but got stuck in the mud. Other wounded demonstrators also had difficulty negotiating the terrain. A demonstrator who had been close to Mohammed Amour reported having to leave him behind because CCM members and police officers were closing in: "There is a steep slope of mangrove trees, and because we were afraid and we were running away, we left them behind. Mohammed Amour sank into the mud."82 Just outside Kwale, at least three other demonstrators sank into the mud as they ran from CCM supporters. At the forest's edge, one man reported watching CCM members beat demonstrators and throw at least two bodies down into the quarries.83 In another case, a young man passing Kwale was ambushed by CCM supporters armed with clubs and a machete.

They caught him as he was passing and they beat him. They wanted to cut him with the machete. One of them was saying, "Cut his hand off! Cut his hand off!" Well one of them felt pity for him so he took his hand and held it down and said, "Just cut his finger, leave a mark on him." They cut his little finger off.84

Three women who had sought refuge in a hut near the hospital were found by a group of five CCM members armed with clubs:

They took us near the hospital, and a hospital worker came out and said, "Let them go now-they haven't done anything." But the maskans [CCM members] said, "We are not leaving them. We are taking them all the way to the station. Go back inside and tend the sick, since you work in a hospital!" When we neared the police station...two policemen beat us with branches as we passed. Then inside, those maskans took us inside, and then a police officer beat me with a club on the leg, four times. In the police station there were thirty-one men who had been arrested. They were lying on the floor of the station, in a bad condition. There was blood all over the place. Others had their heads split open. Some, you couldn't see their eyes any more. A few old men who couldn't move. We thought they would die in there.85

Some time between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., a police helicopter, widely believed to be the same helicopter that had earlier circled Wete, arrived in Micheweni. The helicopter flew low over the clearing, circling repeatedly from the edge of the forest to the quarries and back toward the hospital grounds and police station. As the helicopter flew over the quarries and mangroves, it appeared to drop teargas, which particularly affected the wounded that were unable to flee.86

After circling, the helicopter landed behind the police station. Some demonstrators hiding nearby saw officers in the helicopter step out and deliver what looked like weapons to the police at the station. A demonstrator being held at the police station overheard a police officer speaking into a radio, apparently to another officer in the helicopter, and calling for more weapons to be brought because they had run out of them.87 Other informants said they saw two officers from the helicopter help a policeman load three bodies from the station into a police vehicle.

The demonstration was over by 11:00 a.m. Demonstrators dispersed-some by boat, some taking wounded with them. Others hid in the bush and did not arrive home until late in the afternoon. Fearing arrest, still others hid in distant villages for several days. Some fled Pemba by boat for neighboring Kenya. Police arrested thirty-three people, who spent the night in the police station and were taken to Wete prison the next day. Micheweni forest was cordoned off and was kept under heavy guard for weeks after, remaining off limits to the public. Those who did pass by the area reported an overpowering rotten smell coming from the forest. One week later, two decomposing bodies were reportedly found nearby by villagers.88 Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm widespread allegations that the police sealed off areas to conceal the presence of rotting corpses and may have interred bodies in mass graves.89

The Security Forces Responsible

At Micheweni, unlike in Wete, the police district commanding officer reportedly ordered the forces under his command not to fire on civilians. His orders, however, were largely ignored by the security forces who had been brought in from the Tanzanian mainland, and were contradicted by the district commissioner of Micheweni, Ramadhan Shaib Juma, who encouraged police to continue the violence against those fleeing and ordered troops to fire upon demonstrators. As reported above, several witnesses told Human Rights Watch that they heard the district commissioner order security forces to shoot and kill demonstrators. In addition, he allegedly led forces into the quarries, encouraging them to continue to use violence against those fleeing.90

Civilian supporters of the ruling CCM also took part in the violence. Groups numbering between five and ten CCM supporters were stationed in at least five places: at the edge of quarries, behind the hospital, in the forest, along Mjini Wingwi road, and in Kwale. One CCM supporter from Finya donned a police uniform and sat in a police vehicle next to the police station, pointing out people to the soldiers.91 One woman reported a CCM group heading towards the quarries and beating people with clubs as they ran away.92

As in Wete, some police and security officials were lightly wounded as demonstrators at Micheweni reacted to the violence. One police officer was allegedly cut with a machete and several residents of Micheweni were charged with assault.93

Chake Chake, Pemba Island

At Chake Chake, security forces fired into the crowd, beat, harassed, robbed and raped demonstrators and local residents. Human Rights Watch believes that about five people were killed while over one hundred were injured, and fifty-seven were arrested. The town, with a population of 10,000, is the regional administrative center for southern Pemba and a major crossroads. Demonstrators were instructed to gather five kilometers north of town at Gombani Stadium and march at 8:00 a.m. to the Tibirinzi football field just north of town center for a rally by local CUF officials.

Most CUF supporters from southern Pemba were ultimately prevented from reaching Chake Chake, where they intended to join the demonstration. An estimated 10,000 demonstrators from the rural areas of Mkoani were turned back by police manning roadblocks at the town of Mtambile, twelve miles south of Chake Chake. Hundreds of them were beaten by police, and almost one hundred, including women, were arrested.94

The authorities ordered local residents in and around Chake Chake to remain in their homes. A police force of about 250 had been on standby from the night before; guns, live ammunition and rubber bullets were issued to the mainland police who had recently been brought in and to the local police. During the night, seven police roadblocks were set up on the routes leading into the town, including at Machomanne on the demonstration route and on either side of the Tibirinzi field where it was scheduled to finish. At the roadblocks, police turned away vehicles and people on foot, sometimes using violence. One businessman reported:

When we got to Chanjani [three kilometers south of the town center], there was a roadblock manned by ten policemen with rifles. They yelled at us to get out and started saying that we were planning to go to the demonstration, but we would see, they were going to smash it. I tried to tell them I just wanted to go home, but they started beating me with clubs all over, on my face and on my legs; finally I ran away.95

Another resident said:

When I tried to go to my neighborhood mosque for dawn prayers I was stopped by three policemen with guns who refused me entry and told me to pray at home. Then I went to the local branch office of CUF to meet my friends at 6:30 a.m. to wait for the demonstration to pass by. But six policemen in FFU uniform drove up and started shooting in the air. When we told them we only wanted to have a peaceful demonstration they began shooting us with rubber bullets, and one man named Ghalib was shot in the back.96

According to one witness: "Police beat everyone they could catch, and then ransacked the CUF office. With all roads blocked, demonstrators made their way to Gombani from all directions by following hidden paths."97 A young man who was beaten and arrested by the police stated:

We were in a group of twenty men, women and children following a small path near Machomanne when we were spotted by a police lookout with a radio stationed on an apartment building. Then a police car drove up quickly and ten policemen jumped out, shooting into the air. They told us, "Hands up," so we stopped quietly, and then one policeman just came up and shot my friend Habib [Salim Khamis] in the stomach. He fell down and died right there. I was beaten and arrested.98

The police officer who shot Habib was transferred to the mainland soon afterward. Another witness noted:

When the police had surrounded us, there was one policeman whom I knew really well. He knew that I had recognized him and saw what he was doing, so he tried to kill me. He took a large club and hit me on the head three times until I was unconscious. Later, when I was taken to the police station, he saw that I was still alive, so he grabbed a large club and tried to smash me, but a corporal pushed him away and complained, "Do you want to kill in the police station?"99

An elderly woman attempting to walk by a checkpoint was also beaten severely and arrested.

One policeman came towards me because he knows me and I know who he is. He started beating my back with a club, so I tried to run away, but he came after me and he hit me on the head...I was barely conscious, but he came and dragged me little by little to the road. I was thrown in a truck and I passed out."100

Another woman was ambushed by police hiding in the bushes. She and four others were beaten and then forced to hop like frogs with their hands behind their heads until they got to the road, where they were taken to the police station.101

Residents of Machomanne were terrorized in their homes by the police stationed at the roadblock under the command of a district officer. The police harassment and assaults began the night before the day of the planned demonstration. Police forcibly entered the home of one elderly man on the evening of January 26. He described what occurred: "We were watching television when the police burst in and accused my children of having teased them. They beat all of my children, especially my son, who is partially paralyzed. Then they left."102

Next morning, before 6:30 a.m., police first dispersed a group of CUF supporters by firing rubber bullets at them and then ransacked the CUF branch office. They also fired at least ten tear gas shells into the neighborhood, one of which landed in the courtyard of a young dairy farmer's home:

I was forced to run outside with my pregnant wife and baby, where seven policemen wearing FFU uniforms started to beat us hard. They broke my wife's finger and threw her down and turned her over, and then one policeman yelled, "Shoot him now to finish him off." But then a policeman from around here started beating me harder and took me to the road and threw me in a truck from the Agriculture Department, and some National Service members took me to the police station."103

His wife added:

After beating my husband they told him to get up, but he couldn't stand. So they forced him, yelling, "Shoot him in the feet if he doesn't walk." Then they beat him on both legs until he was bleeding a lot. One of them had a huge fat club...He hit me on the head with it so hard that it bounced. They tried to pick me up, but they couldn't, because I was nine months pregnant and I couldn't walk, so they left me there. When I gave birth, the baby's eyes wouldn't open for a month.104

Police at the Machomanne roadblock broke into several nearby homes even before any demonstrators arrived, beating residents and looting. Ali Juma Ali, age twenty-four, was at home when at least four policemen broke into his house. They beat him severely, breaking his leg. He received no medical treatment except for some first aid provided by a traditional healer and died from his injuries on February 6, 2001.105

At the demonstration site, several thousand people assembled at the starting point for the rally at Gombani, and set off at around 7:00 a.m. as planned. The demonstrators were carrying banners and singing party songs and were peaceful as they passed the football stadium and TV tower, both guarded by security forces. They encountered a police roadblock at around 7:30 a.m. at Mkanjuni. Protesters had been told by the demonstration's CUF organizers that they should wear a white cloth on their arm and carry a bag of water to clean their face in case of tear gas, but not to carry weapons.

The police formed a double row, with those in front on one knee and those behind standing. Demonstrators halted within one hundred yards of the police, and the CUF district secretary used a bullhorn to explain that they wanted to pass by peacefully on their way to the soccer field. Then, without warning, policemen shot into the crowd. One eyewitness said:

When the police started shooting, people said, "Don't be afraid; it's only blanks. But I looked around and saw two of my neighbors had fallen down and another was shot in the arm. So I held one of the injured, Said Kassim from Gombani, who had been shot through the mouth, until he died. We carried him to the side of the road and a woman covered him up. I tried to help Ali Haji, who had been shot in the pubic area. We carried him to the side, but he also died a little later. Then two army defender trucks drove up and everyone started to run away when they saw soldiers with their guns.106

Three army trucks appeared. One stopped at the roadblock, while two others drove into the crowd of demonstrators. Some soldiers dismounted and chased demonstrators. Other soldiers shot into the air or into a banana grove where people were hiding, causing more injuries.

Soldiers then began looting homes, as police fanned out to chase down, beat and arrest demonstrators. A resident of Batini, a village about one mile away from the road, told of one youth from the village of Furaha who was killed by the police. The neighbors saved his bloody clothes and shoes as evidence:

They grabbed him and started beating him. Then they searched him and found a pocket-knife attached to a key chain. So they started to cut him up with it. There was so much blood! Then they tied him up and dragged him behind a truck. It is said that he died and the police threw him in the bushes. His body was found later.107

After the police opened fire, some demonstrators responded by throwing stones at the police. At least one youth was carrying a bottle filled with petrol, but he did not throw it and no police officers were reported to have been injured. After dispersing the demonstrators, police abused local residents during the following two days, beating anyone found outdoors, and conducting house-to-house searches, breaking down doors, looting, raping, and sexually assaulting a number of women and girls (See section on Rape and Sexual Abuse).

Zanzibar Town, Unguja Island

The fourth demonstration, planned for the capital city of the islands, Zanzibar Town on Unguja Island, was prevented from occurring, and was also put down violently. Again, exact figures were not available, but Human Rights Watch believes that at least five people were killed by the police; in addition, some 373 were arrested and over 300 were injured. Police arrested anyone found outside their home, and hundreds of residents were beaten by police within their own homes, as well as in police stations, the courthouse and the jail. With a larger police presence in the capital, the authorities were better able to stop any gathering before it could start.

Prior to the planned demonstration, some 600 police and some 600 FFU officers were deployed in Zanzibar Town, including 200 of the mainland forces who had been moved to Zanzibar in advance of the October 2000 election (and who were returned to the mainland in February 2001). Armed soldiers, National Service members and local militia also took part in the operations. According to one police officer interviewed by Human Rights Watch, "There was no expectation that the demonstrators would cause any problems, and there was no disturbance, apart from that caused by the police. We were not afraid of violence at all. It was the police that started all of the problems."108

The demonstration was planned to begin at the Mnazi Moja football grounds and then follow Darajani Street for less than one mile to Malindi football field. Police were deployed before dawn. Roadblocks were set up along all the major roads into the town, while other police and FFU were stationed at major intersections. According to one policeman:

We were "pumped up with anger" so that we would be ready for the operation. Whenever someone appeared, in a car, in a minibus, coming to the demonstration in town, they were made to get out of the car and they were taken in the police trucks to the station. To tell you the truth, people were beaten up really badly with clubs.109

A film crew from TVZ, Zanzibar's only television station, drove around in a van filming anyone on the streets, raising fears that the film could be used to identify people for arrest, as has reportedly occurred in the past. As the van passed through Mlandege neighborhood, some young men threw stones at it, apparently breaking the camera, and forced it to depart.110 Some unknown masked residents of the town's Vikokotoni neighborhood, presumed to be CUF supporters, went to the local administrator's (sheha's) house (see section on Complicity of the Ruling Party) in the early hours of January 27, dragged him out and beat him in street so severely that he required hospital treatment.111

At 7:00 a.m., a group of 200 demonstrators gathered outside the CUF's headquarters and attempted to make their way to the demonstration starting point. However, those who attempted to circumvent police roadblocks were punished if caught. One group of twenty-five who tried to take another route from the CUF building were beaten and arrested:

A group of police yelled, "Hands up" and told us to sit down. We were surrounded by thirty-five to forty police. They started beating us with batons and clubs and bicycle chains; my leg was fractured there. Then the police started singing [anti-CUF songs] and they made us sing...If you didn't sing you were beaten more, and some people lost consciousness.112

Those demonstrators who managed to reach Darajani Street were confronted by twenty police with rifles standing in a line. One witness reported:

They were at the taxi stand only about thirty meters from us. I didn't hear any warning. They just shot at us. One Pemban died right there; the bullet went in one ear and out the other. He was about twenty-eight-years old. We picked up his body and ran back to the [CUF] headquarters.113

Another of those present told Human Rights Watch: "They started firing live ammunition into the crowd. Two young men were killed right there, and I was shot in the hip."114

One young man, was taken from his home, beaten, and then mauled by a police dog:

I was woken up at 9:00 a.m. when the police started banging on the door. My friends and I climbed into the ceiling, but when the police broke down the door, they pulled us down and started beating us with clubs. They made us sing CUF songs, but if you didn't sing they beat you, and if you sang they beat you. Then they marched us to the Mlandege police post and made us lie down. There were at least fifty people lying on the ground encircled by policemen. Then a fat, light-skinned policeman came up. I heard later he was an FFU officer He had a police dog on a leash. He shoved the dog at me and told it, "Bite him!" The dog bit into my forehead; he bit all of the skin off, and it really hurt. I couldn't see anything because a flap of skin fell over my eyes, and it was bleeding.115

35 Human Rights Watch interviews, Zanzibar, August, 2001.

36 Human Rights Watch interviews, Wete, August 7-13, 2001.

37 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 15, 2001.

38 Human Rights Watch interview, Dar-es-Salaam, August 3, 2001.

39 Human Rights Watch interview, Dar-es-Salaam, August 3, 2001.

40 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 7, 2001.

41 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 4, 2001.

42 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 6, 2001.

43 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 9, 2001.

44 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 9, 2001.

45 Human Rights Watch interviews August 11-13, 2001.

46 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 10, 2001.

47 Human Rights Watch interview, Dar es Salaam, August 3, 2001.

48 Human Rights Watch interview, Zanzibar Town, August 1, 2001.

49 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 8, 2001.

50 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 11, 2001.

51 Human Rights Watch interview, Dar-es-Salaam, August 3, 2001.

52 Human Rights Watch interview, Dar-es-Salaam, August 3, 2001.

53 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 2, 2001.

54 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 11, 2001.

55 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 3, 2001.

56 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 15, 2001.

57 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 10, 2001.

58 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 6, 2001.

59 Human Rights Watch interviews, Wete, August, 2001.

60 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 3, 2001.

61 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 3, 2001.

62 Human Rights Watch interview, Dar-es-Salaam, August 3, 2001.

63 Human Rights Watch interview with police officers, Wete, August 14, 2001.

64 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 8, 2001.

65 Ibid.

66 Taarifa ya Jeshi La Polisi Kuhusu Matukio ya Maandamano Haramu ya Chama Cha CUF Tarehe, January 27, 2001, Statement by Laurean Tibasana, Tanzanian Police Commissioner, Dar-es-Salaam, January 28, 2001.

67 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni District, August 14, 2001.

68 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni District, August 14, 2001.

69 Human Rights Watch interviews, Wete, August 11-12, 2001.

70 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni District, August 14, 2001.

71 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni, August 11-13, 2001.

72 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni District, August 14, 2001.

73 Human Rights Watch interview, Konde District, August 15, 2001.

74 Human Rights Watch interviews, Konde District, August 13, 2001, and Micheweni, August 12, 2001.

75 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 8, 2001.

76 Human Rights Watch interviews, Shimoni, Kenya, March 2001, and Micheweni, August 12-13, 2001.

77 Human Rights Watch interview, Msukka District, August 12, 2001.

78 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 8, 2001.

79 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni, August 15, 2001.

80 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 8, 2001.

81 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 8, 2001.

82 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 8, 2001.

83 Human Rights Watch interview, Konde District, August 15, 2001.

84 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni Region, August 14, 2001.

85 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni Region, August 14, 2001.

86 It is unclear whether the teargas was thrown from the helicopter, or whether the teargas already in the air was dispersed more widely by the helicopter blades when it landed at the police station. Human Rights Watch interviews, Micheweni, August 14, 2001 and August 8, 2001.

87 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni Region, August 14, 2001.

88 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 8, 2001.

89 Human Rights Watch interviews, Wete, August 8, 2001 and Shimoni, Kenya, March, 2001.

90 Human Rights Watch interviews, Micheweni, August 10 and 14, 2001.

91 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni, August 10, 2001.

92 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni, August 14, 2001.

93 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni, August 10, 2001.

94 Human Rights Watch interviews, Mkoani, August, 2001.

95 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 11, 2001.

96 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 14, 2001.

97 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 14, 2001.

98 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 11,2001.

99 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 15, 2001.

100 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 6, 2001.

101 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 6, 2001.

102 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 15, 2001.

103 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 11, 2001.

104 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 6, 2001.

105 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 15, 2001.

106 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 14, 2001.

107 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 14, 2001.

108 Human Rights Watch interview with police officer, Zanzibar Town, August 1, 2001.

109 Human Rights Watch interview with police officer, Zanzibar Town, August 1, 2001.

110 Human Rights Watch interview with police officer, Zanzibar Town, August 9, 2001.

111 Human Rights Watch interviews, Zanzibar Town, Zanzibar, August 9 and 16, 2001.

112 Human Rights Watch interview, Zanzibar Town, August 9, 2001.

113 Human Rights Watch interview, Zanzibar Town, August 9, 2001.

114 Human Rights Watch interview, Zanzibar Town, August 1, 2001.

115 Human Rights Watch interview, Zanzibar Town, August 9, 2001.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page