Calls to respect human rights grow

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RENOWNED international church organisations have said it is time the authorities dealt with the country’s worsening rot, including ending alleged human rights breaches, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the government has attracted searing criticism over its handling of last month’s foiled protests and recent attacks on Catholic bishops.

In a pastoral letter to the church and people of Zimbabwe, the World Council of Churches (WCC), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and World Methodist Council (WMC) condemned the alleged government use of force to thwart dissent.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the economic challenges and seriously affected the already fragile public health and education systems.

“The ongoing medical doctors’ strike has caused millions of Zimbabweans, including children and pregnant women, to have no access to essential medical care.

“While we understand the gravity of the challenges posed by the pandemic, we also recognise the root causes of corruption and longstanding failure to protect human rights lie in failed governance structures,” the church organisations said.

“We condemn the increasing use of force, violence and intimidation against people protesting these failures, targeting particularly those deemed to oppose the current government.

“We are particularly concerned about the mistreatment of political activists and other advocates for human rights.

“We strongly condemn the sexual abuse and violence against women activists. We find the incarceration of journalists and political leaders unacceptable,” the churches also said.

The church organisations further expressed solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe speaking up against rights violations and corruption.

This comes as the United Nations (UN) recently challenged President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government to respect human rights.

Similarly, The Elders, an international non-governmental organisation of public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates, said Mnangagwa’s government should end its crackdown on dissent and focus on dialogue and reform.

“With reports of arrests, beatings and abductions in Zimbabwe, The Elders call for an immediate end to violence, and emphasise the fight against the coronavirus (Covid-19) should be rooted in respect for human rights,” The Elders said.

Accusations of gross human rights violations followed the government’s heavy deployment of police and soldiers ahead of the foiled July 31 mass protests.

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