Zimbabwe riot police raid Tearfund partner

This afternoon (Monday 9 June), the Harare offices of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) were raided and five staff members were taken to the Harare Central Police station for questioning.

The raid was carried out by Zimbabwe's riot police and it is reported that at least one staff member was assaulted in the raid.

Useni Sibanda, National Coordinator for the ZCA said, 'This is pure harassment of church organisations. We are just doing our usual work and we don't understand why we should be attacked by riot police like this.'

During the raid the police confiscated papers including the March edition of the ZCA newsletter.

It is understood that no charges have yet been brought. A lawyer from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is in Harare to represent those detained.

This raid follows the regime's confrontation with diplomats last week and the increased intimidation of civil society groups.

The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance is a partner organisation of UK relief agency Tearfund.

The agency is committed to supporting ZCA's position - working for peaceful and democratic change.

'We have been seeing more and more intimidation, much of it aggressive, against our church partner organisations,' says Karyn Beattie, Tearfund's Zimbabwe Disaster Management Advisor.

'However, church leaders and volunteers will continue to help the poorest in society.'