Friday 16 October 2015

Portraits of Justice #20: Douglas {Harare, Zimbabwe}

This week marks the story #20 from Portraits of Justice - and I would like to say how profoundly grateful I am for the support all the way around the globe that I have received for this project. You do these powerful stories honour with your attentions. 

This week I share with you the story of Douglas from {Harare, Zimbabwe}, in the south of Africa. I originally met Douglas in Ottawa, Canada, and then interviewed and photographed him in Prali, Italy. Douglas is powerful young voice for justice, speaking in the face of political oppressions in his home spaces. A member of the the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe, he is an inspiring leader for a rising generation.

 "In my country justice is a privilege for the affluent, and a privilege for those who are politically correct – when I say 'politically correct,' I mean those are linked to the ruling party. If you do not have connections to the ruling political party justice is something that you might not realize. Our justice system is controlled by the ruling party. It is only those who are politically connected that can enjoy justice in my country"

"We have witnessed a lot of injustices to the opposition, or those who are perceived to be the opposition. Even if you want to demonstrate or to raise concerns against the government, you will find yourself arrested or being tortured by the government. I myself, being a political activist in my country, have been jailed several times,because of standing for the rights of students and standing against the injustices that the student communities experience. 
So in general justice is something that is determined by your political connection."

"The role of Christians and church in my country is to stand up and speak loudly against any type of injustice. We have joined hands with other christian communities to stand up to any type of injustice. For instance, one thing that we have done is to reach out to the student community and young people to work with the elections, which we just did in 2013, whereby we mobilized the young people to stand up against the abuse from politicians, to stand against any form of political violence, and to stand up against any form of political intimidation."

"We draw our inspiration from the book of Esther. It calls us during trying times to our duty to stand up and speak against any type of injustice, like Esther did. This is what we are doing as a christian community. We strongly believe that it is our duty to stand the rights of voiceless, to stand for the rights of the downtrodden. Even during our colonial times the churches played a major role in supporting the marginalized. We still strongly believe that it is our duty that the christian movement, and the ecumenical movement to voice and stand against any form of injustice. It is our duty to give hope, to give encouragement, and to give strength to those who are facing any sort of injustice."

Tell me something beautiful you have witness in your country

In 2013 my country had one constitution that was around from independence. This constitution was not good for us, it had so many flaws. Up to 2013 is had been amended several times. We saw that, as a country, it was not good for us, in terms of building democracy. So it was that I and my colleagues worked tirelessly in terms of mobilizing young people to have voice, because we are drafting a new constitution. And I am happy to say that right now we have new constitution that implicitly states and protects the rights of the citizens. This is something I am proud of, and this something that is good for the future of our country. We still have a lot of work to do in terms of operationalization of the constitution but I strongly believe that since we do have a constitution that binds us everything else in the future will fall into place and do good for future generations, in terms of building democracy for my country. 

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