Cistac Murder – Police Block Peaceful March (

Riot police on Saturday blocked a peaceful march by thousands of Maputo residents through the centre of the city, protesting against last Tuesday’s murder of constitutional lawyer Gilles Cistac.
The explanation given for the presence of armed police, equipped with riot shields and tear gas, was that Maputo Municipal Council had not authorized a change in the route of the march. Initially, the march was to have begun at the site of the murder, the ABFC café on Eduardo Mondlane Avenue, and ended at the Law Faculty of the Eduardo Mondlane University, where Cistac had worked.
But the civil society groups who organized the march decided to add a final segment – they wanted the march to go on from the Faculty, down Vladimir Lenin Avenue and end at Independence Square, in front of Maputo City Hall.
The council did not authorize this final segment, and instead sent the riot police to bar the route. The decision made little sense – on a Saturday morning the march would have caused minimal disruption to traffic, there are no particularly sensitive buildings on Vladimir Lenin Avenue, and Independence Square has been used for countless rallies and demonstrations in the past.
As the marchers faced the police, they loaded their weapons with tear gas canisters. “Shame! Shame!”, shouted the protesters, interspersed with cries of “The police belong to the people!”. At one point, the marchers sang the national anthem, and many sat down defiantly in front of the row of police.
A few people could be heard arguing for an attempt to break through the police line. But cooler heads prevailed, and it was decided to end the march with speeches in front of the Law Faculty.
Salomao Muchanga, the President of the Youth Parliament, declared that the murder of Gilles Cistac was “a radical act by decadent sectors”. The marchers, however, were standing up for “the values of 25 June” (the date both of Mozambican independence in 1975, and of the foundation of the Mozambique Liberation Front, Frelimo, in 1962).
“We are willing to make sacrifices and to undergo hardships in order to defend our freedom”, he said. “The defence of freedom is the defence of the Republic”.
Muchanga urged the police and the Attorney-General’s Office to abandon “their habitual lethargy”, and instead provide “speedy justice for Mozambicans”.
He warned that “if justice is not done in the near future, the next marches will not end here”.
Alice Mabota, the President of the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH), declared that Cistac’s work was “above party politics”. She recalled that he had faced a shower of insults in parts of the media because of his views on constitutional issues – notably on whether the call raised by Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the former rebel movement Renamo, for “autonomous provinces”, could be accommodated within the constitution.
Shortly before his murder, he had been preparing to ask public prosecutors to sue his detractors who had taken to defaming him on Facebook. Those detractors, Mabota claimed, were attempting to confuse public opinion, and were also calling into question the new President of the Republic, Filipe Nyusi.
“The death of Gilles Cistac is an expression of the moral nakedness of his detractors”, she added. “They have stilled one voice, but it is echoed by millions of Mozambicans”.
As the thousands of demonstrators wound their way through central Maputo, they shouted slogans such as “Gunshots cannot kill freedom” and “We want to live without fear”.
But the dominant slogan was borrowed from Paris. In January, after islamist fanatics murdered journalists of the satirical weekly “Charlie Hebdo”, the cry went up “Je suis Charlie!” (“I am Charlie”).
The slogan has now been adopted for Mozambique. The Maputo marchers shouted, and carried on their placards and T-shirts, the words, in French and in Portuguese, “I am Gilles Cistac!”
Source: Politics