Zara Kay vows never to return to Tanzania on security grounds

ZARA Kay, an Australian citizen and human rights activist, has vowed not to return to Tanzania, claiming the East African country is not safe for her at the moment.

“I don’t think I can visit Tanzania anymore, it is not safe for me, and I never want to risk it,” said Zara while narrating her ordeal to our reporter – who covered the story in SAUTI KUBWA once arrested.

Zara, who was in the country on a private visit, was arrested by the Police Force on December 28, last year on suspicion of “mocking the Prophet,” but was later charged with “possessing a Tanzanian passport illegally.” She denied all allegations in a statement issued to Police.

The activist speaking to SAUTI KUBWA yesterday from Sydney, Australia where she arrived in March 4th, 2021, claimed that while under police custody, she was tortured, intimidated, and unjustly ridiculed by officers from the Central Police Station, Dar es Salaam.

She claimed that after being tortured for 32 hours, she was released and ordered to report to the police station daily with instructions that “her case is still under investigation” for more than 36 days. After that, a file from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) saw no reason to take Zara to court.

Zara said that after the DPP dropped all charges against her, she began the process of obtaining her belongings, including an Australian passport that was being held at the police station since her arrest.

“After about two weeks, the police told me that my passport had been lost, so I had to use other means to leave the country,” said Zara.

Zara was in possession of an Australian passport No. PA8029098 issued on July 24, 2018 which has not expired yet and that she used the travelling document to Tanzania.

The activist said she believe her arrest was stage due to what she does; “fighting for human rights.”

“Countries that do not respect the rights of their citizens, especially freedom of expression, do not like me, they hate me for providing education and fighting for the freedom of everyone and rejecting oppression,” stressed Zara.

Inspector General of Tanzania Police, Simon Sirro said Zara was arrested on suspicion of criminal misconduct and that the investigation was ongoing, but she was later released.

Sirro said Zara’s arrest and interrogation had nothing to do with her “human rights activities.”

Zara landed on Tanzania’s soil on September 6, last year and was granted a 60-day visa, which expired on December 5, 2020, however it was extended until January 20, this year.

SAUTI KUBWA learnt that Zara also owned a Tanzanian passport No. AB100678 issued on December 31, 2005 which expired on December 30, 2015. However, she applied for and was given a new passport number AB652209 on July 31, 2014 which would expire on July 30, 2024.

Zara said the Tanzanian passport was lost in Australia and she never brought it to the country.

Zara has thanked her international counsels from Doughty Street Chambers, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Matthew Lewis and Jennifer Robinson, who collaborated with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure her safe return to Australia.

Tanzanian laws indicate that anyone found guilty of illegally possessing country’s passport or having another country’s travel document without denying Tanzanian citizenship would be sentenced to one year in prison or pay a fine of Shs. 500,000.