Imprisoned CWS Representative Released, Program Manager Killed

In what has been a somber week perhaps indicative of wider travails in humanitarian work worldwide, New York-based Church World Service announced Thursday the death of one of its overseas workers and the release of another.

Church World Service (CWS), the ecumenical humanitarian and refugee assistance organization headquartered in New York, made the announcement earlier today in a public statement.

In the statement, CWS reported that Mey Meakea, CWS Cambodia Program Manager for Community Development, died from a fatal gunshot wound on Oct. 4, as she was on her way home by motorbike taxi. According to reports, the assailant pulled alongside Meakea and shot her at close range. CWS said that a police investigation is underway.

Meakea, a well-respected figure amongst civil society practitioners, had worked with CWS Cambodia for two years. The agency reported that she was committed to issues of injustice, micro-disarmament, and anti-corruption in Cambodia, in an effort to move her country from war and violence into peace and solidarity. She was highly respected as a leader in her work.

"This is a difficult time for humanitarian workers around the world, and we should be more sensitive to and aware of the risks many face on a daily basis," said John L. McCullough, CWS Executive Director and CEO.

McCullough asked that the Christian community prayerfully remember the family of Meakea, and her colleagues at CWS Cambodia "as they try to come to terms with this tragic loss."

The second announcement made by CWS was in regards to its Pakistan/Afghanistan Country Representative Marvin Pervez, who had been detained since September 13 by Pakistan's Federal Investigative Agency on possible charges of a passport infringement.

On Oct. 2 CWS headquarters received word of the release of Pervez, who has served as Country Representative for CWS since 1996.

"Over the past eight years Marvin Parvez has provided strong and creative leadership for CWS in one of the most challenging and politically charged global arenas,” stated McCollough in the statement. “He has effectively served the interests of the poor, and stood for the cause of justice. His professionalism and service is highly respected. CWS is unaware of any body of evidence that would dissuade us from this perspective."

Reportedly, an article put out by the Church of Pakistan News Service four days after Pervez’s arrest said that officials "claim to have strict proofs to justify the arrest of Mr. Pervez and his detention." Today, the National Council of Churches of Pakistan released a statement questioning the veracity of the "so-called Church of Pakistan News Service."

It is not clear who brought the personal charges against Pervez.