Anglican archbishops appeal to UN over violence in Zimbabwe

By staff writers
May 29, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Cape Town have spoken to Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, asking for help for churches in Zimbabwe as well as mediation and monitoring to ensure a free and fair presidential run-off, and protection from 'state-organised violence'.

It follows the increasing violence of what appears to be a sustained campaign against the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.

Following the conversation they issued a joint statement identifying a 'sharp escalation' of violence on May 18th when Sunday services were disrupted and worshippers were beaten or prevented from attending church by security and police force attacks on churches across Harare diocese.

"Harassment and intimidation is their daily bread" the statement said which also identified a continuing failure to enforce court orders permitting Anglicans to worship in their Cathedral church in Harare and other parishes.

"This is a clear violation of Article 18 of the UN Charter on Human Rights which expressly gives people the right to worship and freedom of thought" the joint statement said, "quite apart from the other fundamental human rights, the right to assemble and speak and take part in free and fair elections, which are daily denied Zimbabweans."

"Given this political climate of fear, and now the intimidation of our Anglican brothers and sisters, especially in Harare, we are concerned to know what the UN security council and SADC (Southern African Development Community) regional leaders are doing to defend Mothers' Union meetings at churches and prevent people being torn away from altar rails on the orders of ruling party or state officials."

"We plead once more for immediate high level SADC and UN mediation and monitoring to ensure a free and fair presidential run-off, and the protection of its citizens from state-organised violence.

"This is not simply a matter of vote rigging: the events of the last ten days have sharpened everyone's concern, as we hear of murderous attacks on legitimate political activists and now also brutality towards men, women and children meeting for Christian worship. We urge increased international pressure and effective mediation to prevent further suffering."

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