Meditation Focus #59

Showering Love in Zimbabwe, India, Israel/Palestine and Colombia


What follows is the 59th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, March 3, 2002.


1. Summary
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Focus
4. Peace Watch for India
5. Peace Watch for the Middle East
6. Peace Watch for Colombia


Although the main focus suggested for the 2 coming weeks is the tense situation in Zimbabwe where presidential elections will be held next March 9-10 amidst increasing human rights violations and often brutal intimidation tactics aimed at preserving the 22-year hold onto power by President Robert Mugabe, we need also to extend our peace and global healing work to the flaring of extremely savage communal violence in India between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the western state of Gujarat that has left 415 deaths so far, the ever-increasing cycle of violence in the Middle East where the memories of the Oslo peace Accord are fast fading despite repeated attempts to revive the peace process, and the renewed fightings between the FARC rebels and the Colombia army leading to an upsurge of violence and bombings following the collapse this week of peace talks aimed at ending the 38-year war that has left over 40,000 deaths and forced the displacement of over 2 million people in Colombia. In all these disconcertingly violent conflicts, where utter mutual distrust and sometimes raging hatred have dominated for so long the minds and hearts of the various opponents, only a true and profound opening to the healing power of love, leading to the recognition of our ultimate unity as brothers and sisters of the One common Life and to a genuine willingness to forgive past wrongs and forge together a better future for all, can turn around those seemingly hopeless situations and open the way to a new Golden Era of Peace on Earth. All these highly traumatic events are like heavy balls and chains holding back every single soul on Earth as we are striving to co-create a better world and thus cannot simply be ignored, however difficult their peaceful resolution may appear to be.

Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks to contribute in showering love in Zimbabwe, India, Israel/Palestine and Colombia, thus fostering in everyone's mind the awakening of a higher consciousness that will render utterly revulsive and inacceptable to all any further recourse to violence as a means to resolve whatever conflict may be at hand. May the spirit of unity and forgiveness overcome the sense of separation and the resulting fears that still pervade the hearts and minds of too many people, and may Peace prevail in Zimbabwe, India, Israel/Palestine and Colombia for the Highest Good of All.

This whole Meditation Focus is also available at


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This section is for those who wish to understand in more details the situation pertaining to the current Meditation Focus. We encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. The details below are provided because we recognise that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.

You may also review our 2 related previous Meditation Foci:

Meditation Focus # 8 - Turmoil in Zimbabwe

Meditation Focus #45: Growing Tide of Violence in Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe Rivals Go Head-To-Head in Key City (Fri Mar 1)

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main presidential rivals kick off the final week of an often violent election campaign just a few miles from each other on Saturday at major rallies in the key southern battleground of Bulawayo. International involvement in the hotly contested polls, set for March 9-10, also nears its climax as the Commonwealth considers at a summit in Australia what to do about the southern African country led by President Robert Mugabe.


The international community outside Africa has accused Mugabe and his followers of instigating a wave of violence against Tsvangirai supporters ahead of what are expected to be the hardest fought elections since independence in 1980. But neighbor South Africa, facing a flood of refugees fleeing Zimbabwe's growing political and economic turmoil, said this week that both political parties were to blame.


In Rome, the United Nations warned on Friday that half a million Zimbabweans are desperately hungry. The country has been hit by drought and an economic crisis fueled by the state seizure of white-owned farms for black resettlement. "Food stocks are insufficient to carry through to the harvest," Gary Howe, director for eastern and southern Africa of the Rome-based U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) told Reuters.




Mr. Mugabe's Destructive Course (March 1, 2002)

An honest election in Zimbabwe next week could well end President Robert Mugabe's 22-year grip on power there. To prevent that, Mr. Mugabe has been doing all he can to deny a fair chance to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Voters have been arbitrarily disqualified, European and African election observers harassed and the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, implausibly charged with treason. Should the opposition win anyway, army officers have pledged to keep Mr. Mugabe in power. Repressive new laws permit the banning of public rallies and silencing of critical reporting. A fraudulent election could seriously harm not only Zimbabwe, but also many of its neighbors. These countries, especially South Africa, need to take a stronger stand against Mr. Mugabe's attempts to suffocate democracy. Zimbabwe was once one of southern Africa's most democratic and prosperous countries. Today it is a wreck that threatens the region's stability and prospects. The economy has been contracting sharply for three years. Average incomes have fallen dramatically and famine threatens.




New court ruling a set back for Zimbabwe opposition (Fri Mar 1)

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has upheld election rules that the main opposition party says could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters driven from their homes by political violence, court officials said Friday. Thursday's decision meant that voters in the March 9-10 presidential election could cast ballots only in the provinces they were registered in and not, unlike in previous elections, vote anywhere.

The ruling overturned an earlier one by Zimbabwe's second-highest court that required the government to treat the entire country as a single voting district, giving voters the liberty to vote anywhere. Now the voting will be divided into 120 parliamentary constituencies. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change had argued the change in electoral rules was designed to help President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's 77-year-old leader who is fighting for his political survival after 22 years at the helm. It argued the change disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of its voters who had been driven from their home districts by ruling party militants and were afraid to return because of the widespread and increasing political violence.




Time's Running Out for Hero-Turned-Despot Mugabe (Feb 27, 2002)

Robert Mugabe is a desperate man. Hailed as a hero of African liberation when he transformed white-ruled colonial Rhodesia into independent Zimbabwe in 1980, the aging despot now is grasping at bloody straws to retain power.

After 22 years of his misrule, the people of Zimbabwe are telling pollsters they're ready to vote him out of office in two weeks. So Mugabe, 78, has resorted to abhorrent tactics that merit condemnation throughout the world.

To stave off defeat, Mugabe has imposed stiff jail sentences on anyone criticizing him in print or on the airwaves; sent out thugs to beat up political opponents at rallies; kicked out independent observers sent by the European Union to monitor the election process; and, finally, charged the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, with treason in a plot to assassinate him - an accusation that no one finds credible. Tsvangirai's chief crime is that he is leading in all the opinion polls as the likely next president - if the vote is held fairly.




Zimbabwe: Amnesty International calls for a strong line from the Commonwealth as human rights abuses intensify (19 December 2001)


"The situation in Zimbabwe is getting worse day by day as the Presidential elections draw nearer. The government of Robert Mugabe is determined to remain in power by any means, including harassment, arbitrary arrests, assaults and killings of anyone who stand in their way," the organisation said. "This is not about land reform but about rampant torture by the state and its proxies to bludgeon dissent."

An Amnesty International delegation recently ended a visit to the country where it met with victims of torture and beatings, human rights activists, farmers and farm workers, as well as members of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zimbabwe Police Force and army.

Amnesty International concludes that the government of Zimbabwe is using informal, but state-sponsored militia -- comprising land occupiers, so-called 'war veterans' and supporters of ZANU-PF -- as proxy forces to brutalize and displace farm workers and to assault real or perceived members of the opposition.

Killings CLIP Torture CLIP Arbitrary Arrests CLIP Suppression of the Right of Assembly CLIP Threats to the Judiciary and Media CLIP



Zimbabwe: Withdrawal of EU observers may send the wrong signal, encourage further violations (19 February 2002)

The withdrawal of the European Union's (EU) election observers deepens Amnesty International's concerns that human rights violations orchestrated by the ruling party in the run-up to the presidential elections will escalate unchecked by impartial international eyewitnesses. ''It is alarming that the largest contingent of international observers will not be on the ground during these crucial days leading up to the election. By their very presence they acted as a check to state-sponsored violence and intimidation occurring on a daily basis,'' Amnesty International said. "The lack of impartial international observers will facilitate further suppression of the rights to freedom of expression." CLIP



The situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate as the Presidential elections draw nearer. Robert Mugabe's government is determined to remain in power by any means, including harassment, arbitrary arrests, assaults and killings of anyone who stands in its way.

The current pattern of severe human rights violations is part of a political campaign to suppress opposition and secure a victory for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party in the Presidential elections. In the month of November 2001 alone, it is estimated that there were six political killings and 115 cases of torture. Since that time, AI has continued to receive daily reports of assaults and torture. CLIP



Mugabe's election masterplan (5 February, 2002)

Police check the identity of those attending opposition rallies

Robert Mugabe is pulling out all the stops to ensure that he wins the presidential elections on 9-10 March. An electoral law was pushed through parliament which will effectively deny the vote to hundreds of thousands of young people without jobs, who are invariably opposition supporters. Only after intense international pressure were foreign election observers allowed. More importantly, thousands of Zimbabweans trained to monitor elections will be banned from polling stations as they are deemed to work for anti-government organisations. It seems that only civil servants - susceptible to government control - will be accredited.

A new security law makes it a crime to criticise the president and yet another bill was finally passed by parliament - in spite of fierce criticism - which will stop independent journalists from writing stories which do not meet with official approval. Several government sympathisers have been named as judges, in the hope that legal challenges to such laws, or possibly future election appeals, by the opposition will be doomed to failure.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has been vilified as a "terrorist organisation" and officials warn of a US-style "war against terror". The low-level campaign of intimidation against MDC activists, especially in rural areas, is continuing - as is the confiscation of land belonging to white farmers who are accused of supporting the opposition. Newly-trained militias are mounting roadblocks throughout the country. Anyone without a Zanu-PF membership card is told to purchase one at an inflated price or is beaten up.

Turned away

A combination of the self-styled "war veterans" and the police has prevented opposition rallies from going ahead. When the police decide to allow an MDC meeting to go ahead, they check the identity papers of those attending and turn away those without valid documents. The 77-year-old Mr Mugabe and his advisors are laying, one-by-one, the foundation stones of a very high wall around State House. Some Zimbabweans who want change, buoyed by the MDC's strong showing in the June 2000 parliamentary elections, are losing hope. "There's no way that Mugabe will lose the election," says one long-suffering Harare resident. "And even if he does lose the vote, he won't give up power."


(...) Meanwhile, the economy continues to suffocate in the absence of foreign aid and investment. Workers are being laid off by the day and with inflation officially running at over 100%, bread and even the staple food, maize-meal, are becoming luxuries.



See also:

Amnesty International: Zimbabwe - bulletins, special and annual reports on the human rights situation in the country.

Analysis: Mugabe's Descent Into Dictatorship - profile of the leader (15 Feb, 2000)

South Africa denounces Zimbabwe violence (22 Feb, 2002)

News from the Zimbabwe Post

For more information on Zimbabwe




Here are some of the latest developments in India. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.


415 Die in India Religious Violence (Saturday, March 2)

AHMADABAD, India (AP) - Vengeful Hindus torched Muslim homes, killing scores, and rioting spread through the western state of Gujarat on Saturday as the death toll in India's worst religious strife in a decade reached 415, officials said.

The violence continued unchecked for a fourth day despite army troops being deployed with orders to shoot rioters on sight. A curfew was imposed in 37 towns. In a national television broadcast, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee appealed for peace and restraint, saying the violence was a "blot" on the nation's reputation.

Bodies blackened by fire lay in the streets along with burned-out furnishings and vehicles, shredded clothes and other personal belongings in Ahmadabad, the city worst hit by violence. Muslims streamed into hospitals for treatment of stab wounds and burns, but also for refuge.

Though the bloodshed was spreading, it seemed confined to Gujarat state, where police reported fresh rioting and arson in Surat, Bhavnagar, Vadodra and Ahmadabad. Roaming groups set fire to shops in at least three Ahmadabad neighborhoods Saturday and prevented fire trucks from approaching, fire officials said.

In the town of Vadodra, at least seven Muslims working at a bakery were burned alive Saturday, police said, speaking on condition of anonymity. On Friday, at least 122 Muslims, trapped inside their homes, were burned to death by Hindus in three separate attacks in Ahmadabad and two villages, police said.

The bloodshed began Wednesday when Muslims torched a train carrying Hindus returning from the northern town of Ayodhya, where a temple is planned on the site of a 16th-century mosque that was razed by Hindus in 1992. The planned construction of the temple has long been a cause of Hindu-Muslim tension.

Fifty-eight people died in the train fire in the town of Godhra, south of Ahmadabad, sparking a retaliatory rampage by right-wing Hindus. Muslims have accused police and soldiers of standing by and doing nothing as residents — including women and children — have been slaughtered, often with swords and sticks. Lying in pain under the same roof at Ahmadabad's Civil Hospital, Hindu and Muslim victims said they were stunned by the explosion of religious anger.


State government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the death toll in four days of carnage was 415 including those killed in the train and 47 killed by police. The state police control room put the toll at 383, but the government has a history of underreporting death tolls in calamities.

It is the worst religious violence in India since 1993, when 800 people were killed during Hindu-Muslim riots in Bombay.

A small crowd of Hindu residents gathered at a dairy kiosk in the Amdupura neighborhood of Ahmadabad said Muslims were to blame for the events of the last few days. "It's the Muslims' fault! It's the Muslims' fault!" they shouted.

In Ahmadabad's predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Shapur, where some 150 families have lived peacefully surrounded by Hindus for decades, residents said Saturday that police stood by as some 7,000 Hindu nationalists rampaged through their streets setting fire to homes on Friday.

"Instead of protecting us, they were supporting the mob," said Rafi Ahmad, an insurance officer for the state, his voice trembling. Government officials deny such accusations.

Gujarat is the home state of Mohandas Gandhi, an icon of nonviolence who struggled for reconciliation between India's Hindu majority and Muslim minority during the post-independence religious riots of 1947. About 12 percent of India's 1 billion people are Muslims, while Hindus comprise 82 percent.

The origin of the violence lies in the World Hindu Council's campaign to build a temple at the site of the demolished mosque in Ayodhya. The 1992 razing of the mosque by Hindus sparked nationwide riots that killed 2,000 people. Hindus claim the site is the birthplace of their most-revered god, Rama.

Council spokesman Veereshwar Dwivedi said Friday the council will go ahead with its plan to start the temple construction on March 15. About 7,000 Hindu activists are already gathered in Ayodhya, which has been sealed off by security forces to prevent more activists from coming in. About 10,000 security forces are deployed in the town.



Q&A: The Ayodhya dispute (27 February, 2002)

Hundreds of militant Hindu volunteers have gathered in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya where they plan to build a temple on the site of a mosque which was destroyed nine years ago. BBC News Online answers key questions about the looming confrontation and its history.

Why is the site so important to Hindus?

Many believe that Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, is the birthplace of one of the most revered deities in Hinduism, Lord Rama. Ayodhya is mentioned in several Hindu scriptures and has been a place of holy pilgrimage for centuries.

Why is the dispute over Ayodhya so dangerous?

Militant Hindus demolished the 16th-century Babri mosque in 1992, vowing to replace it with a Hindu temple to Rama. They say they were justified in destroying the mosque because there used to be a Hindu temple marking Rama's birthplace on that spot before.

The mosque was torn down by supporters of the hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council), the Shiv Sena party and then-opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

The destruction prompted one of India's worst bouts of nationwide religious rioting between Hindus and the country's Muslim minority, which left 2,000 people dead. The bloodshed was viewed as the most serious threat since independence in 1947 to India's secular identity.

Why is Ayodhya so politically sensitive?

In 1996, the Congress party suffered its worst ever electoral defeat and the BJP, which was closely involved in the destruction of the mosque, emerged as the largest single party. In 1998, the BJP formed a coalition government under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who has found himself faced with a delicate balancing act.

On the one hand, he has needed to accommodate those in his own party and the associated VHP who have been trying to push him to pursue a hardline Hindu agenda since he took office. But on the other, his hold on power has required the support of a wide range of allies in the often fractious coalition government that he leads, many of whom demand a negotiated settlement.

In its election manifesto for this month's assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP ruled out committing itself to the construction of a temple . Mr Vajpayee said the issue could be resolved either by talks or through the current lengthy court battle, which he promised to speed up. The VHP say the construction of a temple is a matter of conscience and they will ignore any court decision against them.

Why is the issue now coming to a head?

The prime minister eventually admitted that his efforts to solve the dispute had failed as the VHP vowed to push ahead with construction of the new temple on 15 March. An estimated 15,000 Hindu activists have now converged on Ayodhya ahead of their stated deadline to begin building.

Several thousand security personnel have been put on alert around the site, and tensions have risen dramatically. On 27 February, more than 50 people died when a train carrying Hindu activists returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya was set alight. Mr Vajpayee has repeated that his government will not allow any construction on or near the site, issuing a last-ditch appeal to the VHP to suspend its campaign.


See also:

India: Equal protection to all citizens must be ensured in Gujarat (01/03/2002)

India's dangerous flames (Feb 28, 2002)

Religious Violence Rages, Indian PM Pleads for Peace (Sat Mar 2)

Rioters defy Indian army (Saturday, 2 March, 2002)



Here are some of the latest developments in the Middle East. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.

New Israeli Raid in W.Bank, Sharon Support Falls (Friday, March 1)
JENIN, West Bank (Reuters) - The Israeli army pushed into a second West Bank refugee camp on Friday and fought gunmen in what it called an attempt to smash terror, as a poll showed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's popularity at a new low. Palestinian officials said six Palestinians were killed, among them a nine-year-old girl they said had been hit by fire from an Israeli helicopter, and 38 were wounded in the assault on Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.


At least 19 Palestinian police, gunmen and civilians and two Israeli soldiers have been killed since the operation began on Thursday with a thrust into Balata camp near the city of Nablus. The raids, which followed a Palestinian suicide bombing at an army checkpoint on Wednesday, have marked Israel's fiercest attacks against refugee camps since the uprising began in September, 2000. As hospitals in the area appealed for blood donors, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat urged international action to halt what he described as a massacre. "I call upon the whole world to act quickly before a state of chaos engulfs the whole Middle East region," Arafat told reporters in Ramallah in the West Bank. Aides to the Palestinian leader accuse Israel of mounting the raids to sabotage a Saudi land-for-peace initiative just as it is gaining international momentum.


The violence threatened the peace initiative pursued by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah as a way to halt bloodshed that has killed at least 914 Palestinians and 281 Israelis. The proposal offers Israel normalized relations with the Arab world in return for a full withdrawal from lands it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel has long rejected a complete pullback to pre-1967 lines, citing security concerns. France, in some of the toughest foreign criticism of the raids, called them "acts of war" and echoed a call from United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for an immediate pullout. U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson condemned the Israeli incursion as a violation of international humanitarian law.



See also:

Arafat Urges World to Act Against Israeli Raids - Reuters. (Mar 1, 2002)

Palestinians vow they `won't kneel to the tanks' - Ha'aretz Daily (Mar 1, 2002)

Israeli Raids Kill 11 in Arab Camps on the West Bank
Israeli troops killed at least 11 Palestinians and lost one soldier on Thursday in some of the fiercest fighting of the 17-month conflict.

Tenet Confers With Saudi Prince (Friday, March 1)



Here are some of the latest developments in Colombia. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.

Colombia decrees war zone (Friday, 1 March, 2002)
Troops in the war zone will be given special powers. The Colombian Government has declared six areas in the south of the country a war zone and placed them under military rule. The move comes as the army continues its offensive against rebels from the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC. The Defence Minister, Gustavo Bell, said the armed forces would control public safety in the regions, which have come under rebel attack since the collapse of peace talks last week.

Colombia Expands Military Powers (March 01)

President Andres Pastrana expanded the military's powers Thursday in a vast southern region as rebels intensified their campaign to bomb Colombia into darkness by sabotaging power stations.

Colombia Rejects Rebel Demand to Free Guerrillas (Feb 27)
Colombia's government, struggling to regain control of a rebel zone after the collapse of peace talks, on Wednesday rejected a one-year deadline to swap guerrillas in state jails for hostages including senators and a presidential candidate.

US: Results of Drug Spraying Unclear (Fri Mar 1)
WASHINGTON - U.S.-backed Colombian police sprayed nearly twice as many acres of coca in Colombia last year in the fight against cocaine, but the impact on overall production is still unclear, the State Department said Friday. (...) The report said more than 200,000 acres of coca were sprayed in Colombia last year — almost twice as much as in 2000. CLIP

Colombia Rebels Protest US Presence (March 01)
(...) The United States currently provides training and helicopters to Colombian counternarcotics troops and is considering Colombian government requests for wider aid. The five rebel commanders — who had represented the insurgents at the peace talks — accused Pastrana of bowing to the interests of the country's two main political parties, the industrial sector, right-wing paramilitaries, large media outlets and the U.S. Embassy.

You may also review our 3 related previous Meditation Foci:

Meditation Focus #3: The Civil War in Colombia

Meditation Focus #25: Fostering Peace in Colombia

Meditation Focus #37: Re-igniting the Will for Peace in Colombia

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