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18 Oct 2016

Paliani Chinguwo, in Charge.org

Malawi: Petition seeks release of activists arrested after seeking reparations for historical injustices including forced labour in tea estates

"Arrests and Prosecution Not Solutions To The Problem of Land in Thyolo/Mulanje (Malawi)"

We are cognisant of a movement for the landless people led by Mr. Vincent Wandale called the People's Land Organisation (PLO) that is claiming reparations from the tea estates in Thyolo and Mulanje for the forced labour that their fore parents were subjected to in the estates by the colonial settlers. This movement is also demanding the restitution of land to them which they claim was expropriated by the colonial government from their fore parents.

The leaders and members of this movement were arrested on 1st and 2nd September 2016 on charges of conspiracy to commit misdemeanor, unauthorized use of land, inciting violence and criminal trespass. We would therefore like to point out that the grievances on the question of land among the people of Thyolo and Mulanje are very valid and also complex such that arrests and prosecution on the part of the state cannot be the lasting solution...

Given the political and historic complexity of this issue, we therefore urge the state to immediately withdraw the court case mentioned above; release those who are detained on remand; and then urgently initiate a dialogue involving all stakeholders aimed at finding a win-win solution to this matter which has now become a ticking bomb having remained unresolved 52 years after Malawi attained independence from the Britain.