Zimbabwe and Victims of Violence

by Facilitator on October 31, 2009

The Zimbabwe Conference For Reconciliation and Healing seeks to encourage pastoral counselors to create processes for healing and reconciliation within churches and communities torn apart by the tensions that erupted last year between supporters of the established government of Robert Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.  Although much of the violence has subsided due to an agreement last January to form a coalition government,  there remains deep scares and divisions within churches and communities who have suffered violence. Many supporters of the MDC suffered unimaginable violence: beatings, torture, and even death.  What’s most tragic is that victims and perpetrators were often members of the same community, and in some instances, members of the same church.  Here are a few examples of the kind of suffering that many Zimbabweans have undergone: 

There is incredibly disturbing video collages of victims of torture on youtube.  I was unable to watch them in their entirety without being overcome by both tears and nausea.  Here is just one video news story, without disturbing images, in which a woman describes the suffering of one family.

Counselors and pastors within Zimbabwe are seeking to explore questions such as:

  • How do we respond to the pain and suffering of victims within our communities? 
  • How can churches become places of safety, healing, and reconciliation?  
  • How do pastors and communities respond to past perpetrators of violence?  (Most perpetrators have not suffered any legal ramifications and still remain free, causing enormous suffering and anger for victims).
  • How do we work with victims and perpetrators without allowing our own reactions/history/emotions to get in the way?

Please pray that we might be of service in helping to mend relationships in Zimbabwe.

*For an overview of Zimbabwe’s history, politics, recent violence and political tensions as well as news updates check out the BBC’s Zimbabwe page here.

{ 3 comments }

Pam Shepherd October 31, 2009 at 10:20 am

My prayers are with you and with all those doing the difficult work of reconciliation. This work you are doing is a gift to the world.
Peace and All Good,
Pam

Dale Dore November 22, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Dear Mark,

I have just read your article about your mission in Mutare on healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe. I didn’t find the word ‘justice’ mentioned anywhere. However much you do the Lord’s work of reconciliation and healing, a just and democratic society demands that those who commit serious human rights violations and crimes such as torture, murder, rape and so on, must face justice. The Voice for Democracy believes that a crime is a crime, whether political or not.

You seem to be deaf to the anguish of Pastor Kokayi when he said “I am also filled with anger and bitterness. They have taken my humanity.” Not only is this perfectly understandable, but he has every right to seek justice. It is preposterous to suggest that “All of us are victims and all of us are perpetrators.” There are those who walk about freely and carry out demonic deeds with impunity, while their victims have no recourse to justice. Why have these thugs not been bought to justice? To be silent out of abject fear is very, very different from taking a rock and beating another head with the intent of killing him.

Please be assured that the Voice for Democracy will not rest, both now and in the future, until every perpetrator of such crimes face justice in an impartial, independent and competent court of law. Pastor Kokayi deserve nothing less. Healing and reconcilation, yes, but not without justice.

Regards,

Dale

Mark, Andy, and Frank November 24, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Dale,

You are very correct that their can be no healing or reconciliation without justice. I felt great sadness, shock, and anger at Kokayi’s story and the story of other victims of political violence. I am sorry I did not convey this better in the article. Our conversation at the conference in Mutare was very mindful of the victims’ need for perpetrators to be identified, arrested, and prosecuted and that victims need to be compensated by perpetrators for lost property, injury, etc. In fact, the pastors (representing 23 denominations) wrote a letter to the central government asking that the rule of law be followed, that perpetrators be prosecuted, that a truth commission be instated and monitored by international groups, that victims be guaranteed safety and given a platfrom to tell their story, and other similiar demands. I hope to gain permission to print that letter in this blog. I think you would find it in line with your own concerns.

You should also be aware that the article that you read was only “Part 1,” this Saturday “Part 2” will be printed that discusses the victim’s need for justice and the process of restorative justice.

Thank you for your comment and the work that you are doing on behalf of justice and democracy in Zimbabwe.

–Mark

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