September 27, 2016

Barotseland: Zambia Appeals the Acquittal of Barotse Youths Released in June 2016

Having been found innocent of the charge of seditious practices by the Court Magistrate of Kaoma on 28 June 2016, Zambian authorities have begun the process to appeal the acquittal of five youths from the Barotse community over their public protest for great autonomy of the community. Zambian officials have proceeded to appeal the high court decision by overturning the lower court. Scepticism over President Lungu’s commitment to the 1964 Barotseland Agreement has consistently grown among members of the Barotse community.  

The article below is published by the Barotseland Post

Five Barotse youths who walked to freedom on 28th June 2016 when Kaoma Magistrate Chingumbe found them with no case to answer over seditious practices will be back on trial in Zambia’s higher court.

This is because the Zambian state last week on the 23rd September 2016, decided to appeal to the high court to have their acquittal by the lower court overturned.

This latest move by the Zambian government is despite last week’s pronouncement by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, that he was committed to the amicable resolution of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 debacle through dialogue.

Sinonge Lutangu, Saviour Mombela, Siyunyi Mendai, Jeff Mwinga, Muyapekwa Kutoma, all members of the freedom youth group, Barotse Imilema, endured eight long months of trial for seditious practices after they were arrested for peacefully moving about with the UNPO flag fundraising to enable six of their colleagues, then on trial in another matter, to attend their court hearing at the Kaoma court many hundreds of miles away. However, the Honourable Chingumbe ruled on 28th June that the five had no case to answer and set them free over the charge.

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) is an international, nonviolent, and democratic membership organization. Its members are indigenous peoples, minorities, and unrecognized or occupied territories who have joined together to protect and promote their human and cultural rights, to preserve their environments, and to find nonviolent solutions to conflicts which affect them.

Barotseland, a member since November 2013, accordingly bears the UNPO flag at induction, and the carrying and public display of this flag is neither criminal nor seditious.

Photo courtesy of BBC