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'Shameful' silence over crimes in Zimbabwe earns politicians a rebuke.

HARARE, ZIMBABWE -- An alliance of Southern African church leaders has rebuked political leaders in the region over a "shameful" silence on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The political leaders have committed themselves to "solidarity with [Zimbabwe's] President Mugabe and his regime" and are "turning a blind eye to the suffering of ordinary Zimbabwe citizens," a report issued by the Solidarity Peace Trust charged. The trust is headed by Zimbabwean and South African bishops from the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, including Pius Ncube, the outspoken Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city.

In December, South African President Thabo Mbeki and leaders from other Southern African Development Community countries, including Namibia, Mozambique and Tanzania, opposed the continued suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth for human rights abuses. Zimbabwe has experienced an upsurge in cases of human rights violations in recent years.

Three years ago, Mr. Mugabe's government embarked on haphazard and sometimes violent land reforms led by supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party. They allocated themselves commercial farms previously owned by white farmers.

The Solidarity Peace Trust report condemned the Zimbabwe government's "attempts to use as smokescreens, the land issue, sovereignty and western imperialism" while committing human rights abuses and violating the charter of the United Nations--a denunciation that was previously made by Desmond Tutu, retired Anglican archbishop and Nobel Prize laureate.

The trust was founded in 2002 and says it aims to build solidarity between South Africa and Zimbabwe and to support churches ministering to human rights victims in Zimbabwe.
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Title Annotation:world news
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6ZIMB
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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