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Friday, September 24, 2021

Zambia on “brink of a human rights crisis”, warns Amnesty International

Headlines Zambia on “brink of a human rights crisis”, warns Amnesty International

Amnesty International has warned that Zambia is on “the brink of a human rights crisis.”

The organisation is alleging that President Edgar Lungu is using repressive tactics to win another term in elections set for August 12.

Zambia has established a good track record of holding scheduled elections since the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in 1991 by founding president, the late Kenneth Kaunda, who had presided over a one-party system for over two decades.

Dr Kaunda accepted defeat after 27 years in power and retired.

When Dr Kaunda died aged 97 earlier this month, he was widely hailed as a statesman and a revered fatherly figure.

Zambia, a country of 18 million people, won a reputation as a stable democracy in a continent where elections often lead to conflict.

Now, Amnesty International is accusing President Lungu of trying to reverse those gains.

“The human rights situation has drastically deteriorated,” said Amnesty of the rule of President Lungu, 64, who first took power in 2015 after winning a disputed snap election to finish the term of populist leader Michael Sata who died in office.

President Lungu was then elected to a full five-year term in 2016, although his main rival again alleged fraud.

This will be President Lungu’s last term in office if he wins, and Amnesty International is alleging that he is using repression to ensure victory.

“What we have seen in Zambia, especially in the past five years, is an increasingly brutal crackdown on human rights, characterized by brazen attacks on any form of dissent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

In a report titled “Ruling by fear and repression,” the human rights organization says Zambia has seen a number of police killings, arrests of opposition leaders and the shutting down of media outlets amid “a climate of fear and impunity.”

Social media activists are not safe, said Amnesty International, citing the case of a 15-year-old who is awaiting trial on three counts of criminal libel after criticizing Lungu on Faceboook.

President Lungu has previously denied stifling the opposition and pledged free and fair elections during a meeting with foreign diplomats earlier this year.

The Zambian president faces more than a dozen other contenders but his main rival remains Hakainde Hichilema who he narrowly defeated in 2015 and 2016.

President Lungu has assured the nation of his health after collapsing earlier this month.

Below is the report highlights

Killings and brutal crackdown against dissent set the tone for August election

Years of intensifying repression have pushed Zambia to the brink of a human rights crisis ahead of August’s presidential elections, Amnesty International said today.

What we have seen in Zambia, especially in the past five years, is an increasingly brutal crackdown on human rights, characterized by brazen attacks on any form of dissent
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa

In a new report, “Ruling by fear and repression”, the organization details how the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have come under increasing attack particularly over the past five years, with opposition leaders and activists jailed, independent media outlets shut down, and at least five people killed by police since 2016.

Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party, led since 2016 by President Edgar Lungu, will seek re-election on 12 August. The PF came to power in 2011, after Michael Sata’s victory. Sata later died in office in 2014, and the human rights situation has drastically deteriorated under Lungu’s presidency.

“What we have seen in Zambia, especially in the past five years, is an increasingly brutal crackdown on human rights, characterized by brazen attacks on any form of dissent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

“Opposition leaders, journalists, media houses and activists have all been targeted, and speaking out against allegations of government corruption or abuse has become more dangerous. Protests have been stopped or dispersed with unlawful and sometimes lethal force, and people who speak up against allegations of corruption have been intimidated and harassed.”

Amnesty International’s report documents the deterioration of Zambia’s human rights record over the past five years, when president Lungu came into power, and outlines how censorship, excessive use of force by the police, arbitrary arrests and detention have created a climate of fear and impunity.

Public meetings by political opposition and civil society are largely restricted on the grounds of public security or managing the spread of Covid-19. Two critical media outlets have been shut down by the government over the last five years.

Suppression of freedom of expression

Zambia has experienced a systematic erosion of the right to freedom of expression in the past five years. Authorities have abused the law to criminalize peaceful dissent, charging critics with a wide range of offences including criminal defamation, incitement of public disorder and sedition.

Opposition leaders, journalists, media houses and activists have all been targeted, and speaking out against allegations of government corruption or abuse has become more dangerous
Deprose Muchena

For example, on 9 March 2020, police arrested a 15-year-old boy in Kapiri Mposhi, and charged him with three counts of criminal libel after he allegedly criticized President Lungu on Facebook. He is currently awaiting trial.

Opposition leaders have also faced retaliation for criticizing the authorities.

In 2017, the leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Saviour Chishimba, was arrested and detained for several days, after he criticized the government’s decision to invoke a state of emergency in response to a spate of arson attacks in the capital Lusaka.

In 2019, the leader of Patriots for Economic Progress (PEP), Sean Tembo, was arrested on a charge of defamation for questioning the purchase of a US$400 million presidential jet, amid a national debt crisis.

Media outlets have also come under attack during Lungu’s presidency.

In June 2016, one of the country’s leading daily newspapers, The Post, was forcibly shut down and liquidated over a disputed tax debt.

The closure of the newspaper, which was known for its critical investigative work against government, was preceded by state-sanctioned brutality against staff.

In April 2020, the government revoked the broadcasting license of the country’s leading private television station, Prime TV. No specific reasons were given for the move, but the Independent Broadcasting Authority stated that the action had been taken in the public interest.

Police killings

The crackdown has also led to an escalation of the excessive use of force by the police, which has been fatal in some cases. On 22 December 2020, police shot dead two unarmed people at a gathering of opposition supporters.

Several people had gathered to show their solidarity with Haikainde Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), who had been summoned for questioning at police headquarters in Lusaka. State prosecutor Nsama Nsama, who was not part of the gathering, was shot dead while buying a meal at a nearby restaurant, while Joseph Kaunda, a UPND supporter, was shot by police as they dispersed the crowd. A day earlier, government had publicly urged police to use ‘any means necessary to maintain law and order’ when dealing with opposition supporters.

An investigation by Zambia’s Human Rights Commission established that the order to shoot came from Lusaka Police Commissioner Nelson Phiri, who was removed from service but remained uncharged at the time of writing the report.

In 2018, student Vesper Shimuzhila died when police threw a tear gas canister into her room, during their violent dispersal of a student protest. Her family were given $25,000USD in compensation but no officer has been charged.

Such impunity is now entrenched in Zambia.

One human rights defender said:

“There has been such a rise in the levels of impunity that it now seems like a bottomless pit. There does not seem to be any bounds in terms of impunity and violations.” A number of other people have also lost their lives at the hands of state and non-state actors.

“Zambian authorities must commit to respecting, protecting, promoting and ensuring full respect for human rights before, during and after the 12 August election. The government must also end impunity for past human rights violations,” said Deprose Muchena.

“There is evidence of senior government officials fueling the violence in Zambia over the past five years by the police. Anyone suspected to be responsible for human rights violations must be brought to justice in fair trials.”

Amnesty international is calling on the authorities to immediately end the crackdown on human rights including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and the removal of all unlawful restrictions on the rights of people in Zambia to freely receive and disseminate independent information and express peaceful dissent among others.

45 COMMENTS

  1. Those who didn’t believe the vice president when she said our country is on constant attack by external forces, this is your answer. These neocolonialists are rubbing their hands and intensifying their propaganda to capitalise on our weaknesses. It seems they revered KK and perhaps engineered his demise to cause confusion. Zambians need to wake up because this thing is real. These clowns are being assisted by traitors within. Our freedom is meaningless if we can’t defend it. Wake up!

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  2. so you would rather be ruled by a dictator than be told that they arebeing repressive. 15 year old on trial for critizing someone !!!!!!!!!!! you can see but you are so blind !

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  3. We’ve told you repeatedly that this GRZ is very abusive and misguided .Now Amnesty Int’l has come to the same conclusion.

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  4. Look at this nutcase above…….always blaming imaginary colonialists

    That is why Africa is the poorest continent.
    Because of idioootez who can’t take responsibility.

    Is it outside forces that have shrank zambias GDP and sent inflation and unemployment soaring ????

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  5. Nice one AI,

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck , ……..hell, yes it must be a duck.

    Lungu is nothing but a corrupt thieving violent wannabe tip pot dictator with serious paranoia issues.

    The IMF and Western countries will use this report very well indeed.

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  6. If Lungu steals another 5 years in Power Zambians should expect more killings by this brutal Regime. Just imagine what the heavily armed ZPS, PF Cadres,Militias, Commanders and Generals will do to you after August 12. Our Rights and Freedoms will be taken away by these PF marauding Cadres. Our Country will be run by PF ZPS and PF Cadres and repression will increase. On August 12 we must vote out this Corrupt, violent, Wasteful, incompetent and Visionless ECL and his PF Regime. Another 5 years under ECL and PF will be suicidal for Zambians. The writing is on the wall.

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  7. King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini formerly known as Swaziland has allegedly fled the kingdom amidst pro-democracy protests that have spiraled out of control.
    THESE THINGS HAPPEN WHEN THE CRY OF THE PEOPLE IS NOT HEARD

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  8. The human rights situation has drastically deteriorated under Ecl,

    whether you agree with us or not. No need for unnecessary debates.
    Just wait until you become a victim. The situation is Bad.

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  9. COMPARING ZAMBIA TO THE USA AND DONALD TRUMP
    ARE WE DELUDED OR WHAT
    PERHAPS CLUTCHING AT STRAWS
    ZAMBIA IS ZAMBIA
    ANYWAY ITS ONES RIGHT TO ACCEPT OR REJECT AI
    BUT THERE WILL BE A COST AT THE END OF THE DAY

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  10. @ Mate: Yes, Amnesty International regularly reports on human rights abuses in the United States – including abuses by Mr. Trump (suppression of rights to demonstrate, abuse of migrant rights, targeting of social platforms, etc.) – and other developed countries. You are on the internet so have a look at their website – it’s right there in front of you. You will see that AI has a long history and impressive record working around the world. In 1977 they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize!

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  11. #8  Mate 
    June 29, 2021 At 8:58 am

    ” Did Amnesty international write anything on Donald Trump?..”

    If AI did not write about trump , that must be because civil society watch dogs and the press are well and alive in the USA and they wrote about trump , unlike in zambia where civil society watchdogs get beaten and arrested and the press closed down…..

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  12. Fake and stuppid organization…these are the same people who incite violence in Africa…always inciting Africans to fight against each other ……there’s peace and stability in Zambia so stop your nonsense of trying to incite violence

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  13. Iwe Spaka, ushe what planet are you on? either you are a sponsored useful !d10t or not Zambian at all. I hope these clowns show you the same love you show for them…and yes, I would rather be ruled by my own dictator than the clowns who made it their priority to ensure we never progressed as free people. Sort out your inferiority complex mate!

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  14. By Elias Sakala CIC private reporter (Lusaka province)
    PF THUGS HACKED A UPND MEMBER WITH MACHETE THIS AFTERNOON.
    PF thugs hack a UPND sympathiser in Chalala area in Lusaka after they ambushed UPND members who were placing campaigning materials along the ring road.
    The thugs are believed to be sent by Kennedy Kamba.
    CIC PRESS TEAM

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  15. IT REALLY shocks me how deeply inferior Zambians are. To a Zambian anything foreign and any one pale in complexion is superior. It also shocks me how even the highly educated Zambians don’t just understand how Zambian sits on the global economic politics and how the west would like to distabilise ZAmbia to their own gain. To a Zambian when the western countries give them loose change aid, the western countries +, loves them. Zambians are so blind to an extent the west would be sponsoring anarchy through one wicked and so called opposition leader. Zambians don’t know how desperate the west are for the natural resources which are mostly found in the Sub-Saharan region. The highly educated Zambians are the most blind. When one speaks to Zambia villagers, one would discover how…

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  16. FROM @16 …When one speaks to Zambia villagers, one would discover how knowledgeable they are. They have deep knowledge about almost anything which highly educated Zambians don’t possess. Mind Amnest International is sponsored by the west therefore when poluted. Go ahead Zambians. Have another Rwanda and experience how Rwandese ‘enjoyed it’.
    There is no western country that wishes Africa to develop. They are very happy with civil wars in Africa. If you are in doubt, please, learn from your nearest neighbour- DR Congo. If you think DR Congo lessons are not enough, go to the worst lesson- Rwanda.

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  17. RACISM IN REVERSE ……….. ?????????
    STOP TURNING TO MODERN COUNTRIES FOR HELP AND FINANCE
    LETS GO IT ON OUR OWN TERMS AND OWN FUNDS
    LETS GO THE KAUNDA WAY AND NATIONALISE EVERY BUSINESS IN THE COUNTRY
    LETS BE INDEPENDANT OF THE REST OF THE WORLD
    IF YOU NOT PRPARED TO GO TO THESE LENGHTS
    I SUGGEST YOU ZIP IT

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  18. @Wise Timing
    And note how UPND worship these international organizations….they sing praise and dance every time western organisations say something negative about Zambia…to UPND the West is Supreme….and yet they don’t know that the same Western organisations come with the agenda of destabilizing and stealing from Africans…..while we are busy hacking ourselves with machete and they’re busy stealing our natural resources….wake up Zambians…wake up Africans

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  19. If there’s a country thats on the brink of human rights crisis should be the USA……in the USA they shoot you for just being black

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  20. The best way to react to such reports is by proving them wrong. It is only when Zambia has had peaceful elections and Zambians have made their choice in free and fair elections that Amnesty International will contradict themselves.

  21. Anyone can hire the A-I team. Don’t waste your time reading their standard essays.

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  22. So refreshing to note that we have some normal people amongst us. @Wise T and Anonymous, imagine UPND are even parading these same useful 1d10ts to campaign with them in villages as if they are our saviour. Sata was probably the best opposition leader we ever had because he loved Zambia and these clowns revered him.

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  23. When so of you will soon picked to go to the huege and explain how you took part on Cival wars that’s when you will know that all countries are answerable to the UN.There is no country bwana which is aloud to kill its citizen in the name of politics. We all Human beings regardless of tribe or political affiliation and we deserve dignity in difersity.

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  24. Zambia we are a sovereign country my foot.We always begging for aid and loans from so called bazungu and choncoli .Its high we stop primitive savages and allow civilization to dwell in our institutions of governance.Pf primates thirst for blood in the so called christian jungle .

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  25. NOT LONG NOW AND THE AI RESULTS WILL BE KNOWN
    WHETHER AI WAS CORRECT OR SPREADING FALSE INFORMATION
    ITS POINTLESS DEBATING THIS ISSUE NOW
    BY THE WAY SADLY AFRICA IS WELL KNOWN TO BE A VIOLENT CONTINENT GOING BACK TO THE TRIBES MIGRATION FROM THE NORTH
    READ YOUR HISTORY BEFORE PASSING THE BLAME ON TO THE UNDESERVING

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  26. It was sad to see an innocent Nsama Nsama and Joseph Kaunda being shot dead by the heavily armed ZPS. Today it was Nsama Nsama and Joseph Kaunda but tumoro it is you and me. The PF Cadre Militarization,Violence and Thuggery is worrying. They even have Militias, Commanders and Generals to cause violence on the Streets and Townships. Just imagine what will happen after August 12 should ECL and PF win. These PF marauding Cadres will hold us hostage in our Country and repress us further. Zambians cannot live in a Police and PF Cadre State. The only solution is to Vote out of Power ECL who is the Commander in Chief of the Armed PF thugs. Once ECL and PF are removed from Power then the PF Cadres,Militias, Commanders and Generals will be disbanded. If Zambians want Peace and devt they must…

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  27. @mate you listen too much to the satanic liberal media. Promoters of same sex marriage and abortion abominations. what was wrong with Trump, He had one of the best economy in US in 50 years, with the best employment numbers for black people ever. He destroyed ISIS. He Loved America. He fought against against all Satanic forces in America. Had Trump been a president of zambia he would have not lost power.

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  28. @Nine Chale. The Amnesty international Report is factual and the listed killings have happened in Zambia. Amnesty International will be vindicated after August 12. The Brutal ECL Regime is incapable of holding a free,fair and credible Elections in Zambia. If Zambians are foolish to elect this Violent ECL and PF Regime more Zambians will die at the hands of ZPS and PF Cadre Violence. The writing is on the wall.

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  29. IS IT OUTSIDE FORCES WHO BOUGHT 42 FIREFIGHTERS AT 1, 000, 000 USD EACH? OR AMBULANCES AT 288, 000 EACH WHEN SIMILAR ONES COULD BE FOUND AT LESS 100, 000 USD EACH? WAS IT AN OUTSIDE FORCE THAT DANGEROUSLY POINTED AN AK47 AT FRANK TAYALI? WAS IT AN OUTSIDE FORCE THAT CALLED HH FOR AN INTERVIEW IN DEC 2020 OUT OF WHICH NOTHING SENSIBLE HAS COME? WASIT AN OUTSIDE FORCE THAT GASSED CITIZENS TO DEATH? If all these and others were done by outside forces then we are not safe as citizens!

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  30. We do not need AI TO TELL US THAT. Things are bad! Police and PF are killing UPND and their supporters at will. Ethnic cleansing in quasi government companies and civil service. Empowering only their supporters in terms of jobs and opportunities, what more evidence do you want.

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  31. You think IA are going to influence us to vote for your crybaby president? You think we don’t know he is their surrogate? You think Zambians are too naive not to see through these lies? What happened to KK in 1991 will not happen this year because the opposition lack credibility and patriotism. They should ask AI to come and vote for them. Even this one your cult leader will cry again.

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  32. Look at the same ignorant PF rats seeing imaginary colonialists everywhere……..

    While their PF corrupt useless regime can not survive 6 months without western aid ,

    If the colonialists truly wanted to take your minerals and wanted regime change, why would they just withhold aid to the health care system in zambia which would collapse in 3 months without donner aid ???

    Why bother with funding HH when there are easier ways , like with holding all aid ?

  33. This is utter rubbish, in this state we cannot allow anarchy in the name of democracy, some dull chaps follow blindly when the opposition want to paint our country as black as possible for their own selfish ends. They think that when they come to power all of a sudden their masters will be praising them. We actually need a real dictator to clean up the mess of defiance even for things that are for the good of everyone and the country. The devilish spirit of hate because one wants to go to state house needs to be cast out as soon as possible.

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  34. The opposition in Zambia is so shallow that they behave like a man who undresses the wife in public only to lie in the same bed at night. The so called AI, are mute when there is violence in the so called developed countries because they get paid by them. So people need not waste time on these fake reports fueled by imperialists who continue to use selfish colonised minds.

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  35. Free lessons to Amnesty International and their sponsors. Zambia’s electoral system is one of the most if not the most transparent in the world. Voting in Zambia is done using transparent voting boxes in the presence of every represented political party. After voting all political parties participate in vote counting at the polling station and verify all votes for their candidate unlike in USA were others are chased from polling stations. They then sign form G12 after satisfying themselves and its the form G12s from different polling stations that are added to determine the winner of any election is Zambia. To those who don’t know this is what PF used to dislodge MMD from power and its the same UPND used to fail to prove that the 2016 elections were stolen from HH. Why is USA still a…

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  36. Why is USA still a peaceful and democratic country in the eyes of AI despite all the police killings, homicides, gun violence, racial discrimination etc and Zambia a very peaceful and tolerant nation than some of these western and eastern developed countries like China, why should AI call Zambia a failed state? Its shameful and a sheer hatred against the current government. UPND should not support such publications because given HH wins this years’ elections these same people will call him names if he doesn’t do what they want. Lastly my advise to UPND and PF is every Zambian has right to the presidency as long as he or she gets more votes at election day. Instead of fueling division work on your PVT so that after voting you compare your tallies with ECZ, so that the winner is accepted…

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  37. Viva HH viva UPND.,… and oh thanks to A I, about time you guys said something about the state of affairs in Zambia. Now PF are left scratching their heads in disbelief. PF time is up.

  38. Zambians please wise up, NO Western power is ever interested in any African country to progress.
    Granted the Police have had a heavy hand against the Opposition BUT which opposition has had it easy?? Mr Sata was tear gassed and locked up. Dr KK was shot at, at a rally with Dr Chongwe and was later locked up on trumped up allegations. State Police has from time immemorial has remained overzealous in favour of the party in Power. Despite all this, Zambia has remained peaceful! Because our systems work and its all inclusive. All parties have access to the voters register, all parties have representatives on all polling stations, the right to petition any election result is there. (Ask Tanzania where once an election is declared, no right for petitions or judicial anything). All these…

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  39. Amnesty International is actually one of the best, most balanced organizations when it comes to calling out human rights’ abuses of EVERY country. They called for George W. Bush to be tried for war crimes, and for Barak Obama for crimes against humanity.
    Here’s some of the articles about USA and Trump:
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/americas/united-states-of-america/report-united-states-of-america/
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/06/usa-president-trump-tramples-right-to-protest/
    https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/usa-stop-punishing-people-seeking-asylum/

    But all this is besides the point. The real question is, “Is what Amnesty International wrote a lie?”
    Everything else is a distraction from the topics that have been brought out. If it is…

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