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Protest greets Zimbabwe police raids

An LGBT rights group has condemned Zimbabwean police raids on the headquarters of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, or GALZ.

The latest raid is described here: “Report: Another Zimbabwe police raid on LGBT rights group.”

In a public statement, African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, or AMSHeR, said it  strongly condemns the Zimbabwean government’s continued harassment and violations of the rights of human rights defenders there.

The group stated, in part:

On Monday, 20 August 2012 members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police [ZRP] forcibly occupied the offices of GALZ for over seven hours with the intention of confiscating advocacy materials, publications and computers. This is the second time in eight days that members of the ZRP have invaded the offices of GALZ. On Saturday 12 August 2012, following the launch of the GALZ LGBTI Rights Violations Report 2011, members of the ZRP stormed the offices of GALZ, physically assaulting and subjecting about 44 members of GALZ to torture and other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as confiscating copies of the report present at the office. A number of the members sustained injuries and other health complications and were hospitalised.

According to Sam Matsikure, Health Programme Director, ‘It is a sad irony that such human rights violation and violence is being perpetrated against Zimbabwean citizens by the police on the eve of the country’s new Constitution which aims to guarantee respect for human rights and the promote the rule of law’. Buoyed by President Mugabe who has habitually and publicly made homophobic comments, the public has responded by condoning the attacks and violence against members of GALZ further putting the lives of LGBTI persons in Zimbabwe in grave danger.

‘These state-sponsored human rights violations encourage violence against LGBTI people and a culture of impunity. The actions of the Zimbabwe Republic Police seem to confirm the position of the Government of Zimbabwe that it is acceptable to violate the human rights of LGBTI persons. It is the duty of the government and its agencies to protect the human rights of all persons within its territory, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.’ said Joel Nana, AMSHeR’s Executive Director.

AMSHeR urges the Government of Zimbabwe to honour its domestic and international obligations and commitments to respect, protect and ensure the fulfilment of rights of all people within its territory; and to particularly protect minority groups from violence and discrimination by taking proactive steps to put in place measures that prevent the violation of their human rights. Public officials, including President Robert Mugabe should desist from inciting violence against persons within Zimbabwe on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. The Government must also hold public officials and state institutions to the highest standard of decorum and discipline; erring officials regardless of position must be subject to the rule of law. ‘The process of drafting a new Constitution presents an opportunity to the Zimbabwean Constitution Select Committee to ensure that the rights and freedoms of all persons within the territory of Zimbabwe are protected regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and that new Constitution deliberately includes provisions that promote equality, non-discrimination and the rule of law,’ says Kene C. Esom, AMSHeR’s Director of Policy and Law. ‘Reports by human rights defenders such as the GALZ LGBTI Rights Violations Report 2011 should be seen as tools to inform the development of more protective legal and social structures, and not used as weapons to perpetuate persecution of human rights defenders.’

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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