URC condemns police attack on congregation in Zimbabwe
“This brutal attack on people gathered to pray for peace in represents a new level of oppression and violence in the long litany of human rights violations by the Zimbabwe Republic Police."
04/23/2011 Zimbabwe (Christian Today)-The United Reformed Church has condemned the violent disruption of an ecumenical prayer service for peace in Zimbabwean capital, Harare.
The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance reports that armed riot police launched a vicious attack on a congregation of around 600 as they met at a church in Harare earlier this month.
Numerous people were injured and 14 arrested and taken by police to Harare central police station, where they were charged with “causing public violence” and held for two days.
Commenting on this report, Simon Loveitt, public issues spokesperson for the URC, said: “This brutal attack on people gathered to pray for peace in represents a new level of oppression and violence in the long litany of human rights violations by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
"It now appears that even places of worship can no longer be considered as sacred or safe spaces – and this raises serious concerns about the fundamental human rights of freedom of thought, conscience and belief in Zimbabwe.
“The greatest irony is that people praying for peace were charged with 'causing public violence' while the only violence was from those who are charged with the protection of citizens from the very acts they perpetrated; this resonates with the message of Holy Week on which we are currently reflecting."
Frank Kantor, the URC’s secretary for church and society, and a South African national, personally knows many of the victims of this recent violence.
He said: “Although I have a strong and personal connection to the Christian community in Zimbabwe, I believe that these atrocities are something all Christians should be concerned about."
He said Christians had a "prophetic mandate" to speak out against injustice and oppression in all its forms.