London church holds service for Zimbabwean torture victims

 There was Zimbabwean music and poetry at a service of solidarity with victims of torture in Zimbabwe, at St Paul's Anglican Church in Covent Garden, yesterday afternoon. Among the speakers was Dr Lovemove Madhuku, chair of the National Constitutional Assembly in Zimbabwe, who gave an update on the latest situation. Zimbabwean torture victims also spoke about their experiences. Campaigners also called for the deportation of failed asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe to be stopped immediately. A spokesman said: "The Mugabe regime is wholly unsafe and plainly has no respect for human rights. The 116 people who are scheduled to be deported should have their cases urgently reviewed and there should be no question of returning them at the present time." More than 15,000 Zimbabweans fled to Britain in the four years up to 2004, though only a few hundred have been granted asylum. A two-year ban on forced removals to the African country ended last November and, during the first three months of 2005, 95 Zimbabweans were deported. Several of these people 'disappeared' after arriving back in Zimbabwe. More than 110 Zimbabwean men and women currently being held at detention centres around the UK prior to deportation are staging hunger strikes in protest against their forced removal. One said: "We all face death under a dictator if we are sent back to Robert Mugabe." After yesterday's service ended, the congregation walked to the Zimbabwe Embassy in the Strand where they lay flowers and held a prayer vigil. A vigil is held each Saturday outside Zimbabwe House. For more information see the ICN listing pages or visit:

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