OutRage! members today attempted to make a citizen's arrest on the notoriously homophobic President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, in a bid to prevent him from committing further acts of torture, (Saturday, 30th October).
Zimbabwean Government officials have lodged complaints with the Metropolitan Police over an alleged assault on the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, and alleged criminal damage to the President's limousine. The complaint follows yesterday's ambush by OutRage!.
In response to this complaint, the police are considering charging one of the demonstrators, Peter Tatchell, with assaulting the Zimbabwean President, following Tatchell's attempted Pinochet-style arrest of Mugabe on charges of torture under British and international law.
Mugabe has now accused the British Government of setting "gay gangsters" on him over his controversial land reforms, and is claiming that Tony Blair's administration are using "gangster tactics".
Shortly before midday today, Mugabe and his retinue were stopped by OutRage! activists who attempted to arrest him, on account of his homophobia and human rights abuses against the people of Zimbabwe.
Mugabe is on a two-day private visit to London. His mini cavalcade was stopped as he left the St. James's Court Hotel in Buckingham Gate, London SW1 this morning to go shopping at Harrods. As the presidential car left the hotel courtyard, it was surrounded by protesters, who informed Mugabe that he was being subjected to a citizen's arrest to prevent the further commission of acts of torture in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe has denounced lesbians and gays as "sexual perverts", "beasts" and "worse than dogs and pigs". Rejecting calls for homosexual human rights, he has said: "we don't believe they have any rights at all".
Since his comments, lesbians and gays in Zimbabwe have been beaten, arrested, framed on trumped-up charges and threatened with death. In 1995, the human rights group Gays And Lesbians of Zimbabwe was banned from exhibiting at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair and the following year GALZ members were attacked and threatened by government stooges, forcing them to flee the Book Fair.
OutRage! accuses Mugabe of inciting anti-gay hatred and of condoning murder, torture and detention without trial.
Peter Tatchell opened the car door, grabbed President Mugabe by the arm, and said: "President Mugabe, you are under arrest for torture. Torture is a crime under international law.". Turning to the President's security officers, Tatchell told them: "Call the police. The President is under arrest on charges of torture".
Tatchell remonstrated with Mugabe, citing the torture of Ray Choto and Mark Chavunduka, journalists on The Standard newspaper in Zimbabwe. According to Amnesty International:
"Military interrogators beat both men all over their bodies with fists, wooden planks and rubber sticks, particularly on the soles of their feet, and gave them electric shocks all over the body, including the genitals. The men were also subjected to 'the submarine' - having their heads wrapped in plastic bags and submerged in a water tank until they suffocated". (Amnesty International news release, 21-January-1999).
The demonstrators were about to call the police, and ask them to inform the Attorney-General of Mugabe's detention, as required by UK legislation. However, before this could be done, police arrived from a neighbouring demonstration (on the pros and cons of allowing corporal punishment in schools).
Misinterpreting their duty, the police detained the OutRage! protestors, removing one from the bonnet of the car, and allowed the two cars to drive off. Three of the protestors (Peter Tatchell, Chris Morris, and Alastair Williams) were forcibly arrested and are currently being questioned at Belgravia Police Station, (tel. 020-126.96.36.199). -- Tatchell was kept lying on the ground until the arrival of a police van, whilst Morris was held, choking, by the neck.
John Hunt, one of the demonstrators, explained:
"We were attempting to arrest Mugabe
under Section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988
which allows for the arrest in Britain of any person who commits
an act of torture anywhere in the world, as defined
in the UN Convention Against Torture 1984,
(to which Britain is a signatory).
"We call on the Attorney-General to fulfil his legal obligation
to arrest and prosecute President Mugabe on charges of torture,
before he returns to Zimbabwe from Heathrow at 7 p.m. this evening.
"We call on the Attorney-General to fulfil his legal obligation to arrest and prosecute President Mugabe on charges of torture, before he returns to Zimbabwe from Heathrow at 7 p.m. this evening."
Although highlighting Mugabe's attacks on the lesbian and gay community, OutRage! is also drawing attention to his authorisation of bans on strikes and demonstrations, censorship and closure of the press, restrictions on trade union rights, and his defiance of the judicial rulings against human rights abuses.
"Mugabe has got away with human rights abuses for years", said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!. "The time has come to show him that he cannot torture and abuse people with impunity. On the evidence of the torture suffered by Ray Choto and Mark Chavunduka, the Attorney-General has a legal duty to authorise the arrest, detention and the prosecution of Mugabe".
"Mugabe is a violently homophobic tyrant who is implicated in the torture, murder, disappearance and imprisonment without trial of thousands of people. To allow him to go shopping in Harrods without attempting to call him to account for his crimes against humanity would be a dereliction of Britain's obligations under international law", said Tatchell.
|FURTHER INFORMATION:||Peter Tatchell (OutRage!)|
|PHOTOS + VIDEO:||Simon Bebbington (ISF reporter)|
Add your voice to the protest
To add your voice of protest, email the Zimbabwe Embassy (in Washington D.C.):
Zimbabwe: Charges Dropped against Morris, Tatchell & Williams
Zimbabwe: Tatchell Death Threat
Tatchell will visit Zimbabwe in response to Mugabe Invitation
"Mugabe Three" Charged
Mugabe Arrest: GALZ Response to "Pink Paper" Article
Blair Government Condemned over "Regret" to Mugabe
Zimbabwe President Meets British Gay Rights Activist
Call to suspend British aid to Zimbabwe
President Mugabe of Zimbabwe challenged to 'take the test'
Plethysmography in action
Antigay MPs challenged to 'take the test'
Zimbabwe Human Rights Practices -- U.S. Department of State, March-1996
Violence at the Zimbabwe Book Fair -- AFP, 03-August-1996
GALZ, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe -- further background information
Link to American Psychological Association
Independent: Zimbabwe rejected by Commonwealth human rights body 16-November-1999
Independent: Queen embroiled in Mugabe apology row 10-November-1999
BBC: Mugabe: UK set 'gay gangsters' on me 7-November-1999
BBC: Mugabe slams Blair's 'gangster gays' 7-November-1999
BBC: Zimbabwe protests gay attack on Mugabe 3-November-1999
BBC: Zimbabwe: the problems of progress 12-August-1998
BBC: Zimbabwe: Homosexual and hated 13-August-1998
BBC: Banana trial ends 24-June-1998
BBC: Journalists released for UK treatment 3-March-1999
BBC: Mugabe refuses to condemn torture 8-February-1999
BBC: Doctor backs up torture allegations 28-January-1999
BBC: Police disperse Zimbabwe protest 26-January-1999
BBC: Torture Ordeal 22-January-1999
BBC: Detained Zimbabwe journalists 'beaten' 21-January-1999
BBC: Mark Chavunduka arrested 12-January-1999
BBC: South Africa court decriminalises homosexuality 9-October-1998
BBC: President Museveni of Uganda 29-September-1999
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