Reformed Church Head 'Disturbed' By Zimbabwe Crackdowns

The head of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) has expressed "grave concern" over the economic, political and humanitarian crisis unraveling in Zimbabwe.

In a March 27 letter to the Chairman of the African Union (AU) and President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor, WARC General Secretary Setri Nyomi urged the AU to intervene in the troubled country.

"It is our hope that through your leadership the African Union will exert influence on the Zimbabwean government to turn away from injustice and to seek the return of good governance where all enjoy justice and freedom," he wrote.

WARC has previously expressed concern over the lack of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe, the intimidation of voices of dissent, and the deteriorating economic situation that has led to the increased suffering and impoverishment for many in the country. Events over the last two weeks have "heightened our concern," said Nyomi.

The Reformed leader went on to criticize the surge in violence and intimidation lately, which includes the arrest and beating of opposition party leaders from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The MDC was meeting to pray for a solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Leaders of the Student Christian Movement in Zimbabwe, including its vice chairperson, Lawrence Mashungu, were also arrested earlier in the month.

"The use of violence by government and security forces is unacceptable under any circumstances. It is especially disturbing when it is used against people simply wanting to pray for a better country or when they simply wish to express themselves," Nyomi said.

In a letter to WARC member churches in Africa sent last week, Nyomi asked for prayers for the people of Zimbabwe and urged national leaders across Africa to take notice of recent developments.

In a separate media statement also issued last week, Nyomi added, "We are very concerned about what is happening in Zimbabwe at this time, including the arrest of leaders of the Student Christian Movement.

"The arrest and intimidation of people in any country, for simply speaking out in the face of the suffering of their people is truly reprehensible. We call on the Zimbabwe government to return to the principles of good governance which will enhance the welfare and freedom of all the people of Zimbabwe."