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Mugabe’s embattled regime lashes out at church organization

By Michael Ireland

6/9/08 Harare , Zimbabwe (ANS) — Five staff members have been taken away for questioning and another assaulted in a raid by riot police on the offices in Harare , Zimbabwe , of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA). Those taken away were questioned at Harare Central police Station.

Useni Sibanda, National Coordinator for the ZCA said, “This is pure harassment of church organizations. We are just doing our usual work and we don’t understand why we should be attacked by riot police like this.”

During the raid the police confiscated papers including the March edition of the ZCA newsletter. It is understood that no charges have yet been brought. A lawyer from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is in Harare to represent those detained.

This raid follows the regime’s confrontation with diplomats last week and the increased intimidation of civil society groups.

The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance is a partner organization of UK relief agency Tearfund. The agency is committed to supporting ZCA’s position – working for peaceful and democratic change.

“We have been seeing more and more intimidation, much of it aggressive, against our church partner organizations,” says Karyn Beattie, Tearfund’s Zimbabwe Disaster Management Advisor. “However, church leaders and volunteers will continue to help the poorest in society.”

Tearfund is a leading UK Christian relief and development agency, committed to tackling the causes of poverty in many of the poorest countries around the world and has been working with local churches fighting poverty and social injustice in Zimbabwe for over 25 years. Tearfund is also a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee