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Crackdown Drives Clerics Of Zimbabwe's Christian Alliance Into Hiding

Some senior members of Zimbabwe's Christian Alliance, a coalition of church leaders which has provided humanitarian assistance since 2005, have gone into hiding while others have fled the country after being threatened by state security agents, members said.

Christian Alliance members who were arrested and later released by authorities two weeks ago said they continue to be menaced for speaking out and trying to help the victims of political violence through the provision of shelter, blankets and food, among other items, as Harare has forbidden them from providing direct humanitarian aid through outreach.

Pastor Lawrence Berejena, a Christian Alliance member now in hiding, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that such persecution stems from allegations the clerics campaigned for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in March elections.

Bishop Trevor Manhanga, president of the Evangelical Association of Zimbabwe, said his members have nothing to fear because they are working within the confines of the law.

Another member of the Evangelical Fellowship, Pastor Alexander Chisango, told VOA that the persecution cited by Christian Alliance members does not only target church leaders, but anyone considered to be supporting a particular political party.

Chisango confirmed he had heard reports of the persecution of some church leaders, mostly in rural areas, but he said it is the role of the church to bring peace to the country.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...