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Human rights activists go missing in Zimbabwe

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At this point, nothing is a surprise in Zimbabwe. What is it going to take for the African Union and neighboring countries to quit supporting Mugabe?

A prominent Zimbabwean human rights activist abducted 12 days ago was working on case files to be used as possible prosecution evidence against members of President Robert Mugabe's regime, The Observer has learnt.

Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), is the most prominent among 20 political and civil society activists who have disappeared in the past six weeks.

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.

A human rights lawyer revealed that just before Mukoko's abduction the ZPP had shifted from cataloguing violence in townships to the organised abuse of food aid, where people were forced to support Mugabe in return for maize deliveries. 'That upcoming report was going to be extremely embarrassing for the ruling party,' said the lawyer.

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