Westminster: Cardinal speaks out on Zimbabwe

 The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has told The Times that President Mugabe's expulsion of shanty-down dwellers is "deeply abhorrent" and has called for a moratorium on forced returns of Zimbabwean asylum-seekers to their country. He said it would be a "gross injustice" to return detainees to Zimbabwe as long as the situation there continues to deteriorate. His comments follow an intervention yesterday by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in which he described forced returns as "deeply immoral". At least 57 Zimbabweans are on hunger strike in Britain in protest at their planned deportation to their country. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said: "The Government of Zimbabwe appears to be conducting a sustained, systematic campaign of terror against its own citizens. I share the frustration of all people of good will at this violation of basic human dignity and of international law. The expulsion of hundreds of thousands of poor people from their homes, leaving them to sleep in winter temperatures in the open air, is deeply abhorrent. I wish to add my voice to the many who are calling upon the leaders of member nations of the African Union and of the United Nations to do what they can to bring an end to this disgraceful situation. "In the light of these and other events, I agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury that it would be a gross injustice, at odds with Britain's humanitarian traditions, to send back Zimbabwean refugees. At the very least, a moratorium on returns should be observed while the international community attempts to get to grips with a fast-deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. I welcome indications today that the Government is reviewing the question, and that for the time being no Zimbabweans are, in fact, being sent home." The Zimbabwean Bishops' Conference is currently meeting in Rome

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