Zimbabwe police caution outspoken archbishop
Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube, was cautioned by police on Friday over a service he held during which victims of torture gave testimonies.
The archbishop said two plain clothes officers visited him and warned him that his services were expected to be of purely religious nature.
He said he told the police that it was impossible to separate issues of hunger, economic hardships and violence from religion.
"If people are suffering... the church cannot excuse itself," he told AFP. "I am not going to protect a government that has abused people's rights flagrantly and for no reason.
"People have been killed and those who killed are running scot free on the streets because they acted on behalf of the government," Archbishop Ncube said.
Earlier this week, a small group of Zimbabwean church leaders, led by Archbishop Ncube, marched into the Bulawayo cricket ground just ahead of a Cricket World Cup match with Australia.
Later on Friday, police apprehended 19 clergymen who attempted to stage a protest in the capital Harare. According to Reuters news agency the churchmen were all charged with public order offences under a tough security law introduced by President Robert Mugabe shortly before his victory in a controversial poll last March.
The group had attempted to march to police headquarters, bearing wooden crosses, to present a petition complaining about police harassment.
The lawyer for the clergymen said they had been released, but he expected that they would be summoned to court at a later date.
Pius Ncube Eludes State Security Agents (Financial Gazette, Harare)
Zimbabwe police charge 42 over cricket demonstration (Reuters)
21 Clergymen Arrested in Zimbabwe (Voice of America)
Harare police arrest protesting clerics (The Guardian)
Zimbabwe: churches clash with police (Independent Catholic News)
Church Leadership Must Never Reconcile With Evil (The Daily News, Harare)
Zimbabwe archbishop rebukes Australian cricketers (25/2/03)
Archbishop Pius Alick Ncube (catholic-hierarchy.org)
3 Mar 2003