Silenced Struggles: The Suppression of Peaceful Protests in Namibia

In recent years, Namibia has experienced a growing wave of protests advocating for improved living conditions. These demonstrations include marches addressing issues such as gender-based violence and the concerning rate of youth unemployment. Unfortunately, these peaceful protesters and activists have faced harsh responses, including being targeted with rubber bullets, tear gas, and even arrests.

  1. Shut It All Down Namibia

Shut It All Down is as a widespread movement in Namibia, driven by the urgent need to combat the issues of of physical and sexual violence inflicted upon women and children. It served as a collective effort to raise awareness and actively work towards ending one of the country’s major issues.

During a 3-day nationwide protest, the Namibian police and the Special Reserve Force, in Windhoek, fired rubber bullets, teargas and used batons to subdue the peaceful protest that was made up of 400 mostly young women – who raised their voices against gender-based violence and femicide on the streets of the nation’s capital city.

The protesters resolutely slogans like « no justice, no peace, » expressing their determination for accountability and change.

2. Independence Day – Youth Unemployment

On Tuesday, 21 March 2023, in Windhoek’s Katutura suburb, activists and politicians were taken into custody. Their arrest was linked to a planned protest march aimed at shedding light on the issue of youth unemployment, coinciding with Namibia’s 33rd Independence Day celebration.

The arrests came after the Namibian Police had previously informed the organisers on 17 March 2023 that the protest should not proceed as scheduled. They suggested moving it to a different date, citing « national security interests. » This argument received support from the high court however, in the early hours of 21 March 2023 when the organisers sought legal intervention to challenge the police’s decision to prohibit the demonstration on Independence Day.

Article 21 of our Namibia’s constitution guarantees all persons in Namibia “freedom of speech and expression” and “freedom to assemble peaceably and without arms”. The constitution goes further on the right to express public opinions. Article 17(1) gives all citizens the right to participate in peaceful political activity intended to influence the policies of government.

Even with the constitution in place, protesters and activists were being harmed which indicates the Suppression and lack of freedom when it comes to peaceful protesters in Namibia.

Naango Kainge


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