‘The custodians of the law are the ones denying us access, threatening to arrest us or use teargas, to force us out. There are church wardens who have been arrested and some who bear marks of beatings.’ – Bishop Chad Gandiya, Anglican Diocese of Harare, February 2010
From: Ecumenical Zimbabwe Network (EZN)
Issued: 23 June 2010
The Ecumenical Zimbabwe Network (EZN) wishes to express its steadfast solidarity and prayer with and for the parishioners and leaders of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.
Since January 2008 the crisis in the Anglican Church has turned into clear and unacceptable violations of the freedom to worship and freedom of association for thousands of worshippers across Zimbabwe. Over the past two years bishops from the Anglican Diocese of Harare have reported a series of cases where worshippers were locked out of churches they had attended for generations. They have reported police and militia attacks and intimidation of church wardens, members of the Mothers’ Union and other congregations. In June 2008 the Anglican Bishops of the Province of Central Africa released a Pastoral Letter entitled ‘ I Have Heard the Cry of My People’ in which they expressed their pain and protest against the Zimbabwean government’s failure to uphold and protect the rights of Anglicans to worship as enshrined in the country’s constitution. Such actions are also contrary to Zimbabwe’s obligations under international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Pain in any part of the Body of Christ is pain for the whole Body of Christ.
We therefore raise our voice together with all ecumenical partners in solidarity and prayer with the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe. We commend the faithfulness and resilience of all Christians in Zimbabwe and are thankful for the bold leadership that continues to stand for the rights and dignity of worshippers.
We thank God for the churches in Zimbabwe that have opened their properties to Anglicans locked out of their own churches. We are thankful also for the churches that continue to come out to express solidarity with the leaders and parishioners under siege. May many more churches and Christian leaders stand up together with sisters and brothers who are being persecuted.
We call upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police to exercise restraint, professionalism and even-handedness in dealing with those seeking entry into their places of worship or as they worship in open air.
We call upon members of the judiciary to exercise all fairness and adherence to the rule of law as they dispense justice. In committing to a new dispensation, Zimbabwe’s main political parties declared, in the Global Political Agreement in September 2008, their determination to put an end to the polarisation, divisions, conflict and intolerance that has characterised Zimbabwean politics and society in recent times. The political leaders further committed themselves to building a society free of violence, fear, intimidation, hatred, patronage, corruption and founded on justice, fairness, openness, transparency, dignity and equality.
The Ecumenical Zimbabwe Network today wishes to remind the Inclusive Government of its own undertakings, and urges it to fulfill all the conditions of the agreement they freely signed up to. For the sake of all Zimbabweans regardless of religious and political affiliation, the path of democracy and tolerance is the only way forward.
About Ecumenical Zimbabwe Network (EZN)
EZN is an alliance of Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical advocacy and development organizations as well as representatives of Zimbabwe churches in the Diaspora, based in the Global North and Southern Africa. Formed in 2007 to promote solidarity, advocacy and the social justice work of churches in Zimbabwe, EZN has since January 2010 been coordinated from a part-time office at the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva.
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