The United Reformed Church (URC) in Britain has condemned the violent disruption of an ecumenical prayer service for peace in Harare early this month
Police disrupted a planned peace prayer in Glen Norah.
Several people were injured and 14 arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station, where they were charged with “causing public violence” and held for two days.
Commenting on the police action, Simon Loveitt, public issues spokesperson for the URC, said: “This brutal attack on people gathered to pray for peace 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 claims he 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.
“As we come to the climax of Holy Week, and the eyes of the Christian Church turn towards the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we appeal to all Christians to remember the ongoing suffering and distress of our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe in their Easter prayers,” he said.
“Their suffering has been long and painful — and yet we are reminded by the Easter message that hate and turmoil is not the final reality for Christians. Faith, hope and love endure — and will overcome in Zimbabwe.”
The United Reformed Church has urged its congregations throughout the UK to continue to pray for a just and peaceful solution to the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.