Zimbabwe prayer meeting crushed
One person was killed and several injured after hundreds of shotgun and teargas armed riot police stopped a Harare prayer meeting that had met under the banner of the "Save Zimbabwe campaign".
Ekklesia reports that church and civil society groups were among the organisers of the event. The emphasis on prayer was partly a way of trying to avoid the current ban on public demonstrations against the rule of President Robert Mugabe.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai from the Movement for Democratic Change was among 35 people arrested by police, along with Lovemore Madhuku, who runs Zimbabwe's largest civic organisation, the National Constitutional Assembly.
Organisers of the prayer meeting decided to go ahead with the rally despite police warnings on Saturday that it would not be permitted. Different groups united under the banner of the "Save Zimbabwe Campaign."
They stressed that the gathering in the Highfield area was a patriotic event concerned with the future of the nation. But the authorities took a different view.
According to Zimdaily.com, the government crack down included an attack on a Catholic church in Highfield.
The report claims that St Mary's Catholic Church was unceremonious abandoned when riot policemen threw tear gas canisters into the church in order to disperse the congregation.
Fr Mhembere who leads the Catholic parish confirmed the incident saying it was a shocking experience for most parishioners.
"It was shocking to say the least. I don't understand why the police decided to throw teargas in a church full of worshippers", said the clergyman.
There is growing unrest across Zimbabwe, especially in urban areas. The nation's annual rate of inflation now exceeds 1,700 per cent. Many basic foods and commodities are either not available or are far too expensive for average citizens.
Beatrice Mtetwa, a lawyer who for some of those seized, told reporters that at least 200 people were in the streets of Highfield before the arrests and that an unknown number of others were "roughed up" by the police as they tried to enter the protest zone.
Zimbabwe police crush prayer and protest rally (Ekklesia, 12/3/07)
Riot police unleash orgy of violence in Highfields (Zimdaily.com, 12/3/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Millions facing starvation in Zimbabwe , Archbishop warns (CathNews, 28/11/06)
Archbishop's report exposes Zimbabwean homelessness debacle (CathNews, 1/9/06)
Zimbabwe's anti-terrorism bill threatens freedom, says Justice and Peace director (CathNews, 28/7/06)
Bishops denounce Zimbabwe "clean-up" (CathNews, 20/6/05)
Kubatana - Archive - Christian Alliance leads the Save Zimbabwe ...
13 Mar 2007