Please pray for peace, justice and calm in Madagascar in the midst of a tense political situation.
Marc Ravalomanana returned to the island nation in the early hours of Monday, October 13. Elected president of the country in 2001 and again in 2006, Ravalomanana was deposed by a military coup d’état in March 2009 and has spent the last five and a half years in exile.
A crowd gathered outside the former president’s home to welcome him and to hear him give a press conference at 11 a.m. local time. Early in the afternoon the military fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, after which they entered the Ravalomananas’ home by force. Marc Ravalomanana was removed by the military and reportedly taken to a military camp in the capital, though subsequent reports suggest that he may have been moved to an undisclosed location. He is alone and has not been allowed to contact family or speak with his lawyer, prompting concerns for his security.
The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), a partner of the PC(USA), which Ravalomanana serves as lay vice president, has called for calm and urged the government and military to respect fully the human rights of all of Madagascar’s people, including former President Ravalomanana. The church has scheduled a national prayer service tomorrow to invoke God’s guidance in the midst of this turmoil.
Please pray for the security and well being of Madagascar’s people.
Please pray for the FJKM as it seeks to witness for peace and justice in the midst of deep political divisions.
Please pray for the leaders of Madagascar that they will make wise and fair decisions that will promote stability, healing, and reconciliation for the nation.
Please pray for the Malagasy security forces that they will exercise restraint and respect the rights of the people whom they are charged to protect.
Please pray for safety and justice for Marc Ravalomanana and his family.
The Stated Clerk has also drafted the following letter to the Secretary of State, John Kerry, about the situation in Madagascar:
October 14, 2014
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
I am writing to share the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s profound concern about reports that former President Marc Ravalomanana was seized by security forces today in Madagascar and is being detained at an undisclosed location with no warrant having been issued for his arrest and no charges having been made against him. President Ravalomanana is a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s partner church, the FJKM in Madagascar.
Mr. Ravalomanana has been in exile since he was deposed by a military coup d’état in March 2009. His right to return to Madagascar was explicitly acknowledged in the September 2011 “roadmap” brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), although Madagascar’s self-appointed “transitional” government persistently refused to honor this commitment. He should not be required to ask permission to return to his home country. If the state has reason to believe that he has committed an offense, he should be charged with that offense and permitted to defend his actions in court, in accordance with internationally accepted rules of due process. Amnesty International has stated that the August 2010 suit in which Marc Ravalomanana was tried in absentia and condemned to life in prison “did not meet international standards of fairness.”
I urge the U.S. government to raise this matter with the government of Madagascar, to ask the government to divulge the location where Mr. Ravalomanana is being held and the charges against him, and to convey the United States’ expectation that Mr. Ravalomanana will either be charged in a timely manner or will be released. Further, I would request that U.S. officials seek to visit Mr. Ravalomanana to ensure that he is being treated humanely and to ask that members of his family and his church be permitted to visit him as well. I also call on the United States to encourage the international community to support the Reconciliation Process led by the Christian Council (FFKM), the full implementation of the SADC roadmap, and the honoring of international human rights and due process of law.
I appreciate the emphasis that U.S. diplomatic personnel have placed on full implementation of all provisions of the SADC roadmap, including respect for the rights of free expression and association. I encourage the U.S. government to reinforce this message wherever possible, and to encourage the government to permit the reopening of the many independent radio stations that were closed by the transitional government.
Thank you for giving this matter your full attention. I look forward to learning what further action the State Department will take to ensure the security of former President Ravalomanana and his family and to promote full protection of human rights in Madagascar.
The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Sen. Robert Menendez, Chair, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Sen. Bob Corker, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Sen. Chris Coons, Chair, SCFR Subcommittee on African Affairs
Sen. Jeff Flake, Ranking Minority, SCFR Subcommittee on African Affairs
Rep. Ed Royce, Chair, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Rep. Eliot Engel, Ranking Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Rep. Christopher Smith, Chair, HCFA Subcommittee on Africa
Rep. Karen Bass, Ranking Member, HCFA Subcommittee on Africa