Monday, July 7, 2008

Namibian Bishop speaks against arms’ shipment to Zimbabwe

I wish this news had been more widely shared. I am pleased to see Bishop Kameeta's consistent stand for peace. I wish I'd seen this earlier.

LWF Africa Vice-President Leads Namibians in Protest Against Arms’ Shipment to Zimbabwe. “We Cannot Be Silent and Watch,” Bishop Kameeta Cautions Churches

WINDHOEK, Namibia/GENEVA, 25 April 2008 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Vice-President for Africa Bishop Dr Zephania Kameeta has called upon churches and people in the region “to do everything in our power” to stop a Chinese arms’ shipment from reaching the Government of Zimbabwe.

“Allowing weapons to reach Zimbabwe in this highly volatile and tense situation amounts to becoming accomplices in the injustice and violence committed,” said the Namibian Lutheran bishop in a 23 April statement supporting legal action to stop a Chinese ship from entering Namibian waters with weapons destined for land-locked Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis has increased following the delay in announcing the official results of the 29 March presidential, parliamentary and civic elections. The Chinese shipment arrived in Durban, South Africa on 10 April, but legal action by unions and other activists thwarted efforts to deliver its cargo. Also, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, chairperson of the sub-regional Southern African Development Community urged member states not to provide the ship with docking facilities.

In his statement, Kameeta, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) reminded churches they could not be silent and watch the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe including loss of lives. “As Christians we cannot simply walk past the injured and tortured and go about business as usual, while preaching the story of the Good Samaritan,” he said, stressing it was an “extraordinary situation” that “needs prayers and concrete action.”

Kameeta’s statement was endorsed by LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, who called for the solidarity of the region’s churches in defending the people of Zimbabwe. Referring to his earlier call to Zimbabwean authorities to release the election results (, Noko said concern was not only about the government’s accountability and transparency of democratic processes. “We are concerned about an imminent threat to the lives of Zimbabwean citizens at the hands of their own government,” he stated.

Namibian Lutheran Bishops Dr Thomas Shivute (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia – ELCIN) and Erich Hertel (German speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia –ELCIN-GELC) supported the statement by the LWF Vice-President. The three Lutheran churches – all belonging to the LWF – coordinate their joint work through the United Church Council.

The ELCRN bishop also delivered a keynote address during a 24 April demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy in the Namibian capital, Windhoek. Bishop Hertel was among the representatives of churches and the broader civil society who participated in the rally to support plans by the Legal Assistance Center to institute legal action against the ship’s landing at a Namibian port.

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