"Ready to face bullets", Zimbabwean archbishop says

Zimbabwe's Archbishop Pius Ncube has said he is "ready to face bullets" in joining an anti-government street protest as Australian Embassy staff intervene to help a beaten activist flee the Mugabe regime.

New Zimbabwe reports that the Bulawayo Catholic archbishop said on Wednesday that Zimbabweans must take to the streets over rights abuses by Mugabe's government, facing international criticism over a crackdown on the opposition.

"The biggest problem with Zimbabweans is they are cowards, myself included, but as for me I am ready to stand in front, even of blazing guns," he said.

"If only Zimbabweans are prepared to stand, so am I prepared to stand ... we are not going to be bullied," Ncube said.

Ncube accused the government of maintaining an "ugly oppressive" system and denying citizens basic rights.

"Human rights are God-given. No one has a right to just trample over them ... people are justified to practice non-violent civil disobedience. The time is now. We must stand again. Stand up and fill the streets. Stand in the street and demand that this man resign right now," Ncube said.

"Starvation stalks our land and government does nothing to correct our situation. People are angry now and should stand up, fill the streets and demand that this man (Mugabe) steps down now," he added.

Ncube was speaking at a news conference called by Christian Alliance, a group of church leaders who are part of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, the organisers of a prayer meeting at which opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, alongside 48 others were arrested almost two weeks ago.

The opposition officials have said they were severely assaulted in police custody and images of a bruised and cut Tsvangirai sparked a world outcry against Mugabe's government.

Meanwhile, The Age reports that Australian consul in Harare, Mark Lynch has helped injured activist Sekai Holland flee Zimbabwe, in dramatic and direct defiance of the Mugabe regime, escorted Mrs Holland and her Australian husband to Harare airport.

From there they were flown by air ambulance to Johannesburg for urgent medical treatment.

Mrs Holland had been held under armed guard in a Harare hospital since being severely bashed at an opposition rally almost two weeks ago.

Archbisop Ncube 'ready to face bullets' (New Zimbabwe, 22/3/07)
Zimbabwe mercy dash frees victim (The Age, 23/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pius Ncube (Wikipedia)

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)

23 Mar 2007

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