Today, I have opted to go down the annals of history and share a couple of images from the aftermath of the 2006 general elections in Zambia, depicting the arrest of protestors who took to the streets demonstrating against that election’s outcome. I love photography and photojournalism in particular because it brings out the evidence, motions and emotions that are attached to the matters that affect our daily lives. Photography speaks across language, gender, culture and all other barriers. Therefore, we must embrace and use photography to discuss matters of public concern in our communities. We must use photography to promote transparency and accountability and hold all our leaders (public, private church etc) to account. I am quiet passionate about the photographs here because they show a direct correlation between citizen rights to assembly etc (even to protest) versus police brutality (violation of citizen rights). I remember former Inspector General of Police Ephraim Mateyo (now North Western Province Permanent Secretary) would quip to his contables and sergeants that they are allowed to use minimum force to arrest any suspect or citizens who are not co-operative. For me, Mr Mateyo, together with many other police officers in the service, remains a very good policeman and his statement was often misinterpreted. How do we measure minimum force? Going by these images, can we see the minimum force or perhaps maximum force? Perhaps we are just seeing police brutality. The reality out there is that many men and women in police uniform have deliberately abandoned the ethical and professional standards of policing, while thousands of citizens have continued to suffer the abuse and wanton disregard for the law and people’s human rights. In some communities, the police are loathed with glee because of the unprofessionalism. Many citizens in Zambia view the police as an instrument of brutality, not an avenue through which people must feel secure and both private and public property safeguarded. Look at the lens through which many traffic police officers are viewed, as the most corrupt section of service. Some officers are perpetrators of gender based violence, other are good examples bad drinking habits. Many citizens bolt and other are traumatized upon seeing the police uniform since they view the police regalia as uniforms of brutality. What happens to society when the people who are empowered to protect, serve and save the community become the bad guys? The media, citizens, policymakers and all interested parties have a stake in ameliorating this view of the police. We can amalgamate our efforts from our various backgrounds and re-assert the image of our gallant men and women in uniform. I have done my part by sharing this content!
|FILE PHOTO: A unidentified policeman uses the butt of a gun to assault an armed citizen during a public protest in the aftermath of the 2006 general elections in Lusaka's Chaisa Township.|
FILE PHOTO: A unidentified policemen descend on an armed citizen during a public protest in the aftermath of the 2006 general elections in Lusaka's Chaisa Township.