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Friday, 2 March, 2001, 18:56 GMT
Eyewitness: Suspicion on Pemba
Zanzibari refugees in Shimoni
Some opposition supporters have fled to camps in Kenya
By Christine Otieno on Pemba Island

On 27 January the Zanzibar police broke up an opposition demonstration on the island of Pemba.

In the trouble that followed at least 23 people died - the worst violence in the modern history of the island.

The island is still feeling the repercussions of those deaths.

There is a feeling of dread around the main town even though the heavy police presence has diminished and only few patrols of armed policemen can be seen.

Fear

In a deserted alleyway, under condition of anonymity, an opposition Civic United Front (CUF) supporter recounted the conditions they were living in.

He said that the task of going to identify dead bodies of relatives was fraught with apprehension.

Civic United Front supporter beaten by riot police
There are continuing allegations of police brutality
To collect a body of a dead CUF supporter is to acknowledge to the police that you are a member of the party. This could get someone into trouble.

All around the island members of CUF say they are afraid of the police.

The opposition has shifted its stance from one of open defiance to silent resignation.

Reprisals

Meanwhile, supporters of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party on Pemba feel they are being marginalised and none of their suffering is reported in the media.

One man told me how CUF supporters stoned his house.

He asked why his own suffering was not important, adding that his human rights were being violated.

Neighbour has been pitted against neighbour. Friendships have been broken.

Tension is moving to the mosque as the island is 95% Muslim. CUF supporters and CCM supporters refuse to pray beside each other.

They will not shop in each other's stores or let their children play together.

Until the government enters into dialogue with the opposition the people of Pemba, regardless of their political allegiances, will remain too frightened to live in their own homes.

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See also:

06 Feb 01 | Africa
Zanzibar MPs flee to Kenya
02 Feb 01 | Africa
Zanzibar's shattered peace
05 Feb 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Tanzania
31 Oct 00 | Africa
Zanzibar: Braced for trouble
30 Oct 00 | Africa
Violence after Zanzibar vote row
27 Oct 00 | Africa
Tanzania: Political who's who
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