IPA faults Tsitsi Dangarembga’s conviction

The International Publishers Association (IPA) has criticised the sentencing of Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga, saying it is “a Twisted Joke”.

According to a Publishing Perspectives report, “Tsitsi Dangarembga’s sentence is a twisted joke,” says Kristenn Einarsson, IPA Freedom to Publish chair and managing director of the Norway-based World Expression Forum (WEXFO).

“Two people peacefully holding up placards calling for reform cannot be considered to be inciting public violence and breaching the peace. The sentence may well be suspended, but we fully support Tsitsi in her appeal. Failing to do so would be to condemn all Zimbabweans to silence.”

Media messaging from the IPA includes the text of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document ratified by Zimbabwe. Article 19 reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

“This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Dangarembga, 63, in fact quoted Article 19 herself when in 2020, she spoke to the digitally produced general assembly of the IPA, and we’ll embed her comments below.

“We fully support Tsitsi in her appeal,” says IPA’s Kristenn Einarsson. “Failing to do so would be to condemn all Zimbabweans to silence.”

The Zimbabwean playwright, author, and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga was convicted Thursday (September 29) for inciting public violence while peacefully demonstrating for government reforms in July 2020. She was, along with Julian Barnes—this year’s recipient of the Jerusalem Prize—fined 70,000 Zimbabwean dollars (US$217). Dangarembga and Barnes each drew a suspended prison sentence.

The 2021 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade was awarded to Dangarembga at the conclusion of Frankfurter Buchmesse, last October.


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