Wednesday, December 24, 2008

mukoko is still alive

just read this via the bbc online:

"Prominent Zimbabwean human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, missing for the past three weeks, has appeared in court in the capital, Harare. The state-run Herald newspaper says Ms Mukoko is charged with attempting to recruit people for military training to try to overthrow the government.

It is unclear when or where the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project has been over the past few weeks. The police denied opposition claims that they had been holding her. The Herald said earlier today that Ms Mukoko would be one of a group of people facing the charges to appear in court in Harare. The newspaper reported a police statement claiming one of the defendants had tried to recruit a police constable to undergo military training in Botswana. The training would have been used to forcibly depose President Robert Mugabe's government and replace it with one led by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, said the statement. Ms Mukoko is one of more than 40 human rights activists and opposition supporters who Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) say have been abducted in the past two months.

On Wednesday morning, lawyers in Zimbabwe said they had confirmation that Ms Mukoko was being held at a police station in Harare. Her whereabouts had remained a mystery since she was allegedly abducted from her home outside Harare on 3 December by 15 armed men. In an unusual move, a High Court judge had ordered police to search for her and told the national Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation to run radio and television appeals for information.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Irene Petras of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said Ms Mukoko and others arrested had "fundamental rights and freedoms which are being violated with complete impunity". Ms Petras claimed the detainees had been held at unknown locations and possibly subjected to torture and degrading treatment. Members of the lawyers group took to the streets of Harare last week to highlight Ms Mukoko's plight, carrying banners banners protesting against other alleged abductions. Ms Mukoko's court appearance comes as international pressure on Mr Mugabe is mounting. The leader of the governing ANC party in neighbouring South Africa, Jacob Zuma, has described the situation in Zimbabwe as "utterly untenable". Meanwhile Archbishop Desmond Tutu had said he is "very deeply disappointed" that South Africa has failed to stand up to Mr Mugabe."

many prayers are answered in that jestina mukoko is still alive. the question now, of course, is what will happen to her after the show trial is concluded. i was trying to figure out why this particular story caught my attention, and i think it was because they wouldn't let her find her glasses when she was abducted. a small thing, but being blind as a blind bat myself, it gave me a minuscule insight into the panic and terror of that instant. i don't think i can get my head round the myriad examples of state violence that have so far occurred - it is those small things for me that help to make visceral connections.

associated press update 25th december here.

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