Zimbabwe: concerns grow over abducted human rights activists

 Cardinal Maradiaga, President of Caritas Internationalis, has expressed his grave concern for the whereabouts of human rights activists Jestina Mukoko and her colleagues, kidnapped in Zimbabwe last week, and appealed for their immediate release.

"Jestina Mukoko is a respected human rights defender and valued partner of Caritas. Ms Mukoko and all other human rights defenders that have been abducted should be immediately freed. The rule of law and respect for human rights must be re-established in Zimbabwe, " Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga said/

Jestina Mukoko, Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) was taken from her home by 15 plainclothes men who broke into her home at around 5am on 3 December. Her 15 year old son saw her being dragged away in her pyjamas. She was taken without her spectacles or medication which she needs for diabetes. Her whereabouts remain unknown at the time of this posting.

Within days, other abductions were carried out by groups of between six and nine armed men in civilian clothes using unmarked vehicles without number plates. On 5 December Zacharia Nkomo, 33, brother of leading human rights lawyer Harrison Nkomo, was taken from his home in Masvingo.

Three days later Brodrick Takawira and Pascal Gonzo, both of the ZPP, were abducted in Harare. And on 10 December, Gandhi Mudzwinga, a close associate of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was kidnapped near Harare. None of them have been heard from since, nobody has taken responsibility for the disappearances.

Caritas said: "The ZPP has played a crucial role in documenting politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe. It came to the fore during the run-up to the June presidential election which was sharply criticised at home and abroad."

"Human rights have deteriorated drastically in Zimbabwe this year. In addition to the indirect denial of such basic human rights as food and clean water, healthcare and education, the last few months has been marked with the shootings of illegal diamond miners by the police and army, the arrest of more than seventy people at trade union protests, the detention of civil society activists after peaceful protests and the systematic targeting and detention of human rights defenders," the statement concludes.

Caritas of Ireland (Trócaire) organized a march in Dublin, yesterday in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.

In London hundreds of people attended the weekly vigil on Saturday, outside the Zimbabwe High Commission in the Strand.

Addressing supporters, the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Nick Clegg MP, condemned the brutality of the Mugabe regime, saying it was it was "a stain on the conscience of the world." The UN, he said, must take any measures necessary to remove Mugabe.

ICN is running an ongoing petition to the Zimbabwean High Commissioner in London appealing for the safe return of Jestina and her colleagues. If you would like to add your name and a message - please send an e-mail titled: Zimbabwe Petition to info@indcatholicnews.com

Share this story