International day of prayers for Zimbabwe

 A prayer service for Zimbabwe takes place at 11am this Saturday at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. This service, organised by Amnesty with several Zimbabwean human rights groups will mirror one taking place on the same day in Bulawayo Catholic Cathedral. Both services will focus on the plight of youth and children. Zimbabwean victims of torture will be among the speakers. The service will be followed by procession to Zimbabwe House where flowers and tributes will be laid in support of torture victims and in memory of those who have died. In a statement the organisers said: "Zimbabwe today is a land of violent repression. The introduction of the National Youth Service has led to a massive increase in assault and torture, including rape. Youth and children have been taught to hate. Hundreds have died in political violence; thousands have been brutally beaten and persecuted. Over 3,500 people die every week from Aids-related illnesses. Unemployment is over 70%. The Judiciary has been hounded and perverted. The independent media is under constant attack - the most popular daily newspaper has been shut down. The manipulation of food for political purposes continues. People are starving. Millions have left and are now living in exile." * Last week the Pope appointed the Rt Rev Robert Ndlovua as the new Archbishop of Harare. A member of the Matabele tribe, like the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, Catholics in Zimbabwe are hoping that he will be able to take a more critical stance than his predecessor, Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa, who died from cancer in April 2003 at the age of 71.

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