London: hundreds attend ecumenical service for Zimbabwe

 Exiled Zimbabweans, one woman leaning on a crutch, described beatings, stabbings and other forms of brutality by thugs of Robert Mugabe's regime at a service in London last Thursday, commemorating the UN International Day of Support for Torture Victims. After the 90-minute service at St Martins-in-the-Field church in Trafalgar Square, the congregation, including a Zimbabwean choir, walked in procession to the nearby Zimbabwe High Commission, and sang, beat drums and laid flowers in memory of opposition supporters slain by the regime. London office workers and tourists passing by in brilliant sunshine stared, some anxiously, at the colour posters outside the High Commission depicting lacerated torsos, distorted features and beaten skulls, and the words: Mugabe Regime Perpetrates This: 3 556 Tortured; 574 Abducted and 110 Killed. High Commission staff hastily shut the doors and kept themselves inside behind dirty net curtains and dusty photographs of wild life once used to attract visitors to Zimbabwe. During the service organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Zimbabwe Association, Shona and Ndebele anthems mixed with traditional English hymns. While the choir sang the hauntingly beautiful Ndebele hymn Tinochema Nhai Baba (We Cry Father), a speaker declared against the background of the descants: "Let's stand and fight another liberation struggle." The service opened with the Shona hymn Nguva yakanakisa which celebrates the moment of reunion with loved ones who have died. Among the testimonies, Givemore Chindawi, an opposition activist since he was a plastics technology student at the Bulawayo Technical College, described finding the decomposing remains of his father, and the constant warnings that he would suffer the same fate. From a brave widow,s house in Bulawayo's Magwegwe suburb, Chindawi continued distributing MDC T-shirts and other materials and campaigning for the party. He fled in July 2001 after being severely beaten by Zanu PF thugs and threatened with death. "The pressure now is on Mugabe's regime," said Chindawi. "He is having sleepless nights." In a testimony read by his sister, broadcaster Georgina Godwin, Zimbabwean writer Peter Godwin described visiting his mother in hospital in Harare during the MDC protest stayaway in early June. "The nearby beds began to fill with black Zimbabwean women, their legs and arms broken, their heads crunched by the rifle butts of the soldiers and police, their clothes still infused with acrid fumes of teargas," wrote Godwin. He now lives in the United States and departed soon afterward. As his plane left Harare airport he saw three helicopters lifting from a nearby airbase, ready to rain teargas, and to call in police, army, military and Zanu PF youths to beat and imprison protesters. "As we soared away I felt the profound guilt of those who escape," Godwin added. "But there is much we can do even from a distance. We can ensure that our diaspora does not become dispersed and diluted. That we remain exiles and not emigrants. That we amplify the suffering and the bravery of those in the front line as democracy battles dictatorship...That here there is no smoke screen of anarchy within which to hide the appalling misdeeds of a desperate regime. That we tell the world there is no longer a middle ground in this struggle." Source: ZW News

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