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Church coalition remembers torture victims

Loughty Dube

IN what threatens to set local churches on a collision course with the authorities, the Bulawayo Christians Together for Justice and Peace group will tomorrow hold a service for victims of tortu

re and violence in Zimbabwe. The prayer service meeting, to be held at the Roman Catholic St Mary’s Cathedral in Bulawayo tomorrow, coincides with the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Torture victims are expected to give testimonies on violence by the state in the past few years.

The service will take place simultaneously with another prayer meeting for Zimbabwean torture victims lined up at St Martin-in-the Fields in Trafalgar Square, London.

Bulawayo Christians Together for Peace and Justice spokesperson, Father Barnabas Nqindi, said they had lined up several torture victims who are expected to give testimonies on torture.

“In keeping up with the international family, we in Zimbabwe will join the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture by reminding those in our midst who use torture as a tool to stop doing so,” Fr Nqindi told the Zimbabwe Independent this week.

“We pray to the Almighty to intervene and eradicate all forms of torture in Zimbabwe and the world at large.”

Nqindi said they would also be praying against denial of access to food and health care, and against violence and the politics of hatred.

“We will pray for human rights, especially the rights of arrested persons,” said Nqindi.

Zimbabwe’s human rights record has worsened since President Mugabe unleashed war veterans and youth militias on the opposition following his defeat in a constitutional referendum in February 2000.

Zimbabwe’s ratings by organisations such as Amnesty International and the United Nations Commission for Human Rights have continued to plummet.

On whether they have sought police clearance to hold the prayer session, Nqindi said there was no need to seek permission as the meeting would be held within the confines of the church.

According to Zimbabwe’s draconian security laws, police permission has to be sought before people can hold a meeting.

The service in London will be followed by a procession to Zimbabwe House where flowers will be laid in support of torture victims and those who succumbed to torture.

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