For Immediate Release
Leading Zimbabwe Human Rights Activist Abducted
WASHINGTON - Africa Action is concerned about the whereabouts and safety of
coalition partner Jestina Mukoko, a prominent civil society leader in
Zimbabwe, reportedly missing for over forty-eight hours. As the
Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Jestina has been instrumental
in keeping the world informed of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Africa Action unequivocally condemns this attempt to silence this
heroine of Zimbabwe's struggle for democracy and demands that she be
released immediately and returned to her family unharmed. Jestina's
abduction follows a clear pattern consistent with previous abductions
by government agents, particularly the Central Intelligence
Organization. Africa Action urges the international community to hold
authorities responsible for Jestina's well being.
The abduction of Jestina Mukoko follows a protest organized by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) that was brutally crushed by
police. Over seventy workers were arrested throughout Zimbabwe and many
more were severely beaten by anti-riot police, including ZCTU secretary
general Wellington Chibhebhe. "These were workers simply exercising
their democratic right to protest peacefully. The Zimbabwe government
had no reason to violently attack them," said Gerald LeMelle, Executive
Director of Africa Action. "Africa Action extends our solidarity with
the struggling workers of Zimbabwe and demands the immediate release of
those arrested. Those members of the security forces responsible for
these human rights abuses must be held responsible. Zimbabwe's culture
of government impunity cannot be allowed to continue. We hope that our
dear sister Jestina is released quickly and unharmed."
The escalation of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe comes amid an
exploding cholera epidemic that has affected nine out of the country's
ten provinces. More than 600 people have died, and over 13,000 are
infected. Many residents of the capitol city Harare have gone without
running water for months. Amid severe food shortages, more than 2
million people are relying on handouts from donors to survive.
Zimbabwe's humanitarian situation is exacerbated by the lack of an
effective government that has persisted since contested presidential
elections were held in March. President Robert Mugabe's administration
continues to undermine the proposed unity government by refusing to
share power equitably with the opposition Movement for Democratic
To learn more about the crisis in Zimbabwe or read Africa Action's report A Dream Deferred - the 2008 Zimbabwe Elections visit http://www.africaaction.org.