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condemns police abuses in suppressing prayer for peace
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
April 09, 2011
on Saturday 9 April 2011 violently stormed and suppressed a church
service organised to pray for peace in Glen Norah suburb of Harare.
The church service
had originally been scheduled for St Peters Kubatana Centre in Highfields,
but the venue was changed after police camped in Highfields overnight
and sealed off the venue to block people from accessing the grounds.
A truck load
of riot police carrying tear gas rifles and truncheons descended
on the Nazarene Church in Glen Norah while the service was underway,
stormed the church hall during prayer, and dispersed the congregation,
which included many church, civic and community leaders.
numbering about 20, assaulted congregants who were inside and outside
the church and used tear gas to drive congregants out of the church
and eventually out of the volatile suburb.
The police went
on to indiscriminately fire tear gas canisters at residences and
churches surrounding the venue of the church service. Even children
who were within and outside the parameters of the church were affected
by the tear smoke and the police clampdown.
The police arrested
Pastor Mukome, the Resident Priest at the Nazarene Church, Pastor
Isaya and some other congregants.
A team of lawyers
from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) observed police indiscriminately
arresting people walking near the environs of the Church of Nazarene
even after they had suppressed the service and hounded congregants
out of the suburb.
have been deployed to attend to those who have been arrested.
was organised by a coalition of churches under the theme "Saving
Zimbabwe . . . .the unfinished journey". The church service
was aimed at presenting an opportunity to pray for peace in Zimbabwe
as part of the process of finishing the journey to save the country.
It was also meant to commemorate the events of the 11 March 2007
Zimbabwe Prayer Meeting, where one activist Gift Tandare was
dead while over 100 political and human rights activists were
arrested, tortured and detained through similar heavy-handed police
condemns the events of Saturday 9 April 2011 and the indiscriminate
violence meted out by police whose responsibility is to see that
fundamental freedoms such as freedom of assembly, expression and
worship, are enjoyed by all Zimbabwe citizens. Such criminal behaviour
makes a mockery of the SADC
Troika Communique, issued in Livingstone on 31 March 2011 in
which the Zimbabwe government was warned to immediately end the
harassment, arbitrary arrests, intimidation and violence which is
currently prevailing in the country. It also calls into question
the sincerity of pleas from political players such as Oppah Muchinguri
who, only the previous day, urged people to turn to prayer as a
contribution to efforts towards national healing and reconciliation.
ZLHR urges restraint
by the police, an immediate investigation into the unlawful conduct
of the police involved in Saturday's disruptions, and calls
for an opening up of space for people to freely assemble, associate
and worship rather than the criminalisation of such lawful activities.
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