She was detained along with Helen Kijjo Bisimba, executive director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC).
The arrests were made during a public demonstration calling for the government to resolve an ongoing doctors' strike.
Several hospitals have been closed during the strike by junior doctors and medical interns, which began on 30 January. They are protesting about pay and working conditions.
Some specialists have also joined the strike, and the Tanzanian government has come under mounting pressure to resolve the dispute.
The reason for Nkya's arrest remains obscure. She did make a statement yesterday about the need "to make the public disabuse themselves of the commonly held belief that prominent people care little about what is going on because they can access medical attention outside Tanzania."
But concerned supporters do not believe that to have been the reason for her detention.
Helen Kijjo Bisimba, executive director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC).
The LHRC issued the following statement
The Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRD- Coalition) under the coordination of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) would like to call upon the government to release its 16 human rights defenders who were arrested at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar es Salaam at around noon on February 9th, 2012. The move has come a day after activists in Tanzania blocked the road to press the government to reconcile with striking doctors who for the past one month have refused to work, freezing services in almost all major public hospitals in the country.
Those arrested are; the Executive Directors of the Legal and Human Rights Centre, (LHRC) Dr. Helen Kijo Bisimba, for TAMWA Madame Ananilea Nkya, and for SIKIKA Irenei Kiria respectively. Others are five staff members of the Tanzania Gender Network, staff members of the LHRC who are Marcus Albany, Anna Migila, Advocate Godfrey Mpandikizi and an intern from the Canadian Bar Association Erin Riley, and other activists whose names could not be immediately established. The THRD Coalition suspects that the move has come due to their stance on speaking out over the doctors’ strike over the past one month through public statements and subsequently issuing strong statements through the media calling upon the government to take stern measures against those behind the saga.
A day before the arrest, human rights defenders in the country decided to issue a joint statement following the death of hundred Tanzanians in public hospitals. Arrested activists believe that the right to life is absolute right and other rights can not be enjoyed without. We believe this is an intentional and arbitrary arrest and there was no need to do so as the defenders had gone to the MNH to observe what was happening.
It is wise to note however that the he trend in most of our states has been to detain human rights defenders on totally unfounded allegations. Some sees human rights activists and defenders as agents of opposition parties. The Coalition seeks for solidarity and support from the media, artistes and contributions from likeminded international and national organizations which are set to defend human rights in various forms.