churches unite for human rights in Zimbabwe
May 10, 2008
It’s been years now since we started talking about Zimbabwe. I remember hearing the stories of farmers being forced from their farms, even of farmers being killed. I still think it was a crime, and I still think it was quite stupid and didn’t help the country at all. But life went on, the farmers lost their farms, they got new farms in Australië, or new jobs somewhere. Somehow, throughout all this, I still thought that much worse problems was going on in the world. But I think that might have changed:
The evening after first hearing about the ship full of weapons on it’s way to Zimbabwe, I told my flatmate that: “now, for the first time, I am really worried about Zimbabwe”. At that point I started thinking about Rwanda, Uganda, and the other worst case stories of Africa. Could it be? Is this really where Zimbabwe is heading?
Yesterday I’ve been hearing some of the stories about the current situation in Zimbabwe. The personal accounts stand out more than the news. One pastor told about people he know very well who actually are still farming in Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF (Robert Mugabe’s party) are doing “voters education” on the farms. So they had to leave and go stay in town, so that ZANU-PF could “educate” the workers. This education involved the chopping of of fingers, of hands, the cutting of of lips…
The things which happened over the past years in Zimbabwe was bad. It was really bad. But when we all thought that Zimbabwe has hit rock-bottom. When we thought that now the people would throw out Mugabe and start something new, it got worse! We assumed that Morgan Tsvangirai will win the election. A friend who is onto economy and things like that said a few weeks ago that within 5 years a lot could again be back on track in Zimbabwe… that idea has changed.
What do we do? What should the church do?
Our denomination has started a project to help feed Zimbabwe. We made an arrangement with Makro to pack crates of food which is then sent to Zimbabwe and can be picked up be church leaders there to help the people of Zimbabwe. Currently a crate cost R15000 (approximately $2000). This certainly is needed, and even if political problems stop today, would still be needed for quite some time. Anyone interested in contributing to this could mail Dr Gustav Claasen.
I think the church have a mayor role to play in forming people thoughts on this. We need to talk politics in church! We can no longer turn our heads away. How about using Hotel Rwanda, Last King of Scotland or The Interpreter and discussing the Zimbabwean situation along with them. After first seeing The Interpreter I remember thinking that this is telling the story of Zimbabwe (that was some years ago). Today I fear that Last King of Scotland, or worse still, even Hotel Rwanda might be telling the story of what is approaching in Zimbabwe! For more information on Zimbabwe you could also visit this site posting updates on the Zimbabwe Situation, or this blog from a Civic Action Group keeping you up to date on the situation in Zimbabwe.
But what next? Is it maybe time for the church to start saying out loud that the world powers should play a much stronger role in Zimbabwe? Could it be time that the United Nations step in in Zimbabwe? Should the large church organization, the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church not say very loud that “enough is enough!“? What about other faith or philosophical traditions, almost all of these would agree that what is going in is deeply unethical. I’m not a politician, and surely don’t understand everything. But I do know a little bit about ethics, and I know that the right to self-government should be respected, and that Zimbabweans should have the opportunity to govern themselves, and do things in their way, which might differ from developed countries. But I also know that the right to life had priority over the right to self-government. And when this right is taken from the people of Zimbabwe, how long can the world take part in active non-participation?
If your not taking part in this months bloggers unite yet, I urge you to join in. On Wednesday bloggers all over the world would be joining hands to blog about human rights. And when blogging about human rights, remember Zimbabwe.
Let us be a voice for the voiceless…