Restore Zimbabwe Service
Friday 11th July 2008Speech by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu at St. Margaret's Church, Westminster
It's great to see you all.
You and I are the fortunate ones. We have the freedom to move, freedom to speak. Thank God for it.
Right now, there are millions of people in Zim, suffering under a callous, brutal regime, and there are millions who have escaped that dear country with their lives.
Our Prime Minister said, and I applaud him for it,
"I condemn those orchestrating the latest horrific escalation of violence. They must immediately end the violence, allow local and international monitors complete access and cooperate with the UN to allow a full investigation of the human rights abuses."
60 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was published. Article 9 said, No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 23 said,
Everyone has the right to work.
Why should exiled Zimbabweans be compelled to twiddle their thumbs in this country, waiting, waiting to return home, when they could be honing their skills, flexing their muscles and contributing to the British economy by being allowed to WORK?
Without work exiles here are falling into destitution.
The people of this country do not want to see this happen to people who have taken refuge from an oppressive and cruel regime.
The government talk of vouchers and benefits. But surely – now that the government is not going to put into practice forced repatriation for failed asylum seekers – why not grant them conditional leave to remain for a year and a day!
When it comes to restoring justice to oppressed people we must take risks and be magnanimous.
I welcome the government's commitment for no forced return for Zimbabweans. But this is not enough.
Free Zimbabweans in detention, who can't go home.
And if they stay here, they must not stay in limbo.
Give them leave to remain for a year and a day and allow them to find work – they have much to contribute.
Martin Luther King said:
Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?"
Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?"
Vanity asks the question, "Is it popular?"
But conscience asks the question, "Is it right?"
And there comes a time when one must take a position
That is neither safe
Nor politic, nor popular,
But one must take it because one's own conscience tells one that it is right."
We need every Zimbabwean here, in South Africa and back home, to prepare for the reconstruction of their country.
Every day I get emails and letters from gifted Zimbabweans who are here, wanting to work, wanting to study and are frustrated. They can't use their God-given abilities because of the rigidity of regulations applied indiscriminately.
The thin-end-of-the-wedge argument in the case of Zimbabwe must not be given currency.
Zim has become a basket case instead of the bread basket which the Creator intends it to be.
We are here to say, 'Restore Zim'. 'Restore Zim'.
With goodwill, the determined efforts of a very talented nation and international support, Zim can rise again.
I know our Prime Minister wants that. He has pledged support for that day.
And remember that anyone who comes to Equity must come with clean hands.
If you call for sanctions, you must also leave no Zimbabwean destitute or incarcerated in inhuman conditions or left in limbo.
We want action now.
1. If detainees are not going to be deported, please release them NOW.
2. For those many who are not going to be forcefully removed – please give them conditional permission to work now.
3. Please give them your support now.
And for us – may all our communities engage with Restore Zim.
Give your donations for Restore Zim to Tesco's Bank.
Join us in this civil coalition.