Sunday, December 14, 2008

Where is Jestina Mukoko?

Mukoko was forcibly taken from her home in Norton, west of Harare, Zimbabwe earlier this month by 15 armed men in civilian clothes in umarked cars and has not been seen since.
[Photo taken by Peter Bischoff].

She had been collecting evidence on human rights violations in Zimbabwe, and has documented that from January to September, 2008, there have been:

463 kidnappings and ab
202 murders

41 rapes

3,942 assaults

According to fellow campaigners, Mukoko had established a network of hundreds of monitors -- mostly church people, teachers and ordinary township dwellers -- who had provided handwritten testimonies of the campaigns of brutality carried out by Mugabe's government. The testimony could have been used in any future investigation of human rights abuses by the Mugabe regime. 'She had catalogued thousands of incidents of murder, assault, torture, arson, and who the perpetrators are. The work was so meticulous it could stand up in any court,' said one associate. [2]

This is the second serious kidnapping in over a month, after a suspected government hit squad seized 14 MDC activists – as well as the two year-old daughter of one of them – from the town of Banket 100 km north of Harare. Witnesses saw them being taken by police officers who have been identified. [3]

Human rights workers have gone into hiding across Zimbabwe. At least 20 political activists have disappeared in the last six weeks.

Friends and supporters fear that Jestina is dead. No one knows where she is. Meanwhile, a cholera epidemic ravages the country, leaving more than 500 dead.

'Tis the season of joy and peace, or so we hope, and thuggery, greed and genocide show no signs of abating. So in addition to cheery greetings of Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, we still feel compelled to ask:

Where did they take Jestina and what has become of her?

Why is Mynmar jailing bloggers for simply expressing an opinion?

When is Aung San Suu Kyi going to be given her freedom? A Nobel Peace Prize recipient in her thirteenth year under house arrest, for advocating democracy.

Why did the Chinese arrest and torture Jigme Guri, a Tibetan Buddhist monk from Labrang Monastery for talking to the foreign media?

To the brutes and thugs of the world who think you'll eventually win: You WON'T. For every 10 you kidnap, torture and kill, another 20 will emerge to take their place.

Peace on earth from my window in Quebec this freezing winter morning. My deepest wish for this holiday season: that the world will one day heal itself and true peace might actually, one day, happen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008