14th April 2009 KEEPING IN TOUCH 2 From the desk of the General Secretary TO : ALL MINISTERS OF THE UPCSA Please find attached the statement on Madagascar that came out of my visit together with the General Secretary of CWM, the Rev Dr Des van der Water as part of an Ecumenical Solidarity visit. Yours sincerely, Jerry Pillay General Secretary STATEMENT ON MADAGASCAR Preamble A solidarity and pastoral visit to the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) has been undertaken by the Rev Dr Des van der Water and the Rev Dr Jerry Pillay on the 27-29 March 2009, on the behalf of the Council for World Mission and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches respectively, against the background of socio-political upheaval and violence in Madagascar in recent weeks. What we have seen and heard We have engaged with people of God in Madagascar and with the FJKM in particular. We have listened to their stories of hurt and hope. We have seen and experienced events of both great concern and of much encouragement. We have prayed with them, asking for the grace of God to be felt keenly and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to come upon the people in Madagascar in a special way at this time of turmoil and crisis. Listening to the cries of people, we have heard; • • • • • • • Of their astonishment, disappointment and bewilderment at the unconstitutional and undemocratic ousting of the country’s president, Marc Ravalomanana Of their dismay at hearing of the assault and trauma inflicted on the president of the FJKM, the Rev Lala Rasendrahasina, by military personnel Of their anxiety about the threats of unlawful arrest and detention of the Rev Rasendrahasina and other church leaders Of their sadness at the political divisions that are breaking up families, polarizing citizens and threatening the unity of the church Of their suspicion at what appears to be outside agitation and material support for the processes by which the country’s president was forced to resign from office Of their sense of bribery and corruption that is used to exploit, solicit and engage support for the present regime, especially that of the military Of their fears about the real possibilities of Madagascar descending into civil war We were witness to: • The ruthless and repressive actions of the military against peaceful protest, particularly on Saturday, 28 th March 2009 against the deposing of the country’s democratically elected president, Marc Ravalomanana, and the take-over by the new regime The overwhelming demonstration of unity and solidarity of members of the FJKM and other churches, in support of their leaders, at a Service of Worship on the 29 th March 2009, attended by over 70,000 Christians An irrupting anger and increasingly militant mood amongst the people reacting to the imposition of new rulers A determination amongst the people to reverse politically unjust and unacceptable actions on the part of the new regime • • • We therefore call: • On the government of Andrey Rajoelina to allow the people of Madagascar the freedom to express their democratic and constitutional rights • • • • • • On global ecumenical community and the world church to increase moral and material support for the churches and people of Madagascar who are working for unity, peace and justice in the country On ecumenical bodies to work with other relevant organisations and agencies to forge an acceptable political outcome in the interests of all people in Madagascar On global leaders to deplore strongly the intimidation, threats and assaults directed towards church leaders and others who stand up for justice On all churches in Madagascar to find ways to enable understanding and to foster reconciliation amongst opposing factions within the churches On the international community to bring pressure to bear on the current regime to engage the people through democratic structures and processes to give effect to the will of the people On the African Union and South African Development Community to assume its rightful place in ensuring justice, establishing peace and effecting democracy in Madagascar as a matter of urgency We express the hope that a just, peaceful and acceptable solution may be found for the people of Madagascar and we join our thoughts and prayers with all God’s people to this end.
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