Bishops back Zimbabwe cricket boycott

Development agency Caritas yesterday joined the nation's Catholic bishops in a call to Cricket Australia to cancel this year's tour of Zimbabwe.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the 42 bishops, meeting in Sydney this week, claimed a boycott would be a significant symbolic gesture against an oppressive regime.

"That innocent families and communities, already afflicted by poverty and hardship, have been tormented under mass evictions and political persecutions can no longer be tolerated by the world community," the bishops say in a statement.

"In light of this, we support recent calls for the Australian cricket team to withdraw from its upcoming tour of Zimbabwe and believe that this would be a significant symbolic stance against the oppressive regime in that country."

Bishops conference President Archbishop Philip Wilson expressed support for outspoken human rights advocate Archbishop Pius Ncube's visit and spoke of the solidarity between the Bishops' Conferences of Australia and Zimbabwe.

"We know the many challenges facing the people of Zimbabwe," Archbishop Wilson said.

"Australians are becoming aware, through the courageous stance of community and Church leaders like Archbishop Ncube, of the oppressive social and economic conditions and the violations of human rights in Zimbabwe.

Earlier, Bulawayo Archbishop Ncube told the Herald that Prime Minister John Howard should intervene to prevent the Australian tour.

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer is also meeting Cricket Australia to try to convince it to pull the team out of the tour.

Backing the call by Australia's bishops, Caritas Australia chief Jack de Groot said Zimbabwe was a nation teetering on the precipice of oblivion when it had once been an African success story.

"The Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe is vicious and corrupt and Australia must not add any credibility to his brutal dictatorship," he said.

"The 2004 cricket tour by Australia was used as a calculated propaganda tool by the state controlled media to promote, to his own suffering people, how the international community was not against him.

"Australia and the international cricket community cannot continue to condone the brutality of Mugabe and his thugs," Mr de Groot said.

Catholic bishops urge Zimbabwe tour boycott (Sydney Morning Herald, 11/5/07)
Zimbabwe cricket tour pressure mounts (Brisbane Times, 11/5/07)

Catholic Bishops express concern for and solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe (ACBC Media Release, 10/5/07)
Cricket Australia must cancel Zimbabwe tour (Caritas Australia, Media Release, 10/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cricket Australia
Caritas Australia
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Robert Mugabe (Wikipedia)
Pius Ncube (Wikipedia)

Zimbabwe bishops on "dangerous path", Mugabe warns (CathNews, 7/5/07)
Zimbabwe bishops end "criminal silence" on Mugabe (CathNews, 11/4/07)
Zimbabwe dialogue still possible, African bishops say (CathNews, 4/4/07)
"Ready to face bullets", Zimbabwean archbishop says (CathNews, 23/3/07)
Zimbabwe Church accuses S Africa over failure to act (CathNews, 21/3/07)
Zimbabwe prayer meeting crushed (CathNews, 13/3/07)
Millions facing starvation in Zimbabwe , Archbishop warns (CathNews, 28/11/06)
Archbishop's report exposes Zimbabwean homelessness debacle (CathNews, 1/9/06)
Zimbabwe's anti-terrorism bill threatens freedom, says Justice and Peace director (CathNews, 28/7/06)
Bishops denounce Zimbabwe "clean-up" (CathNews, 20/6/05)

11 May 2007

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