OutRage! activists Chris Morris, Alastair Williams and Peter Tatchell have been charged with public order offences following their citizen's arrest of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe in London on 30th October. All three deny the charges.
Mr. Morris and Mr. Williams are charged with "disorderly conduct" likely to cause "harassment, alarm or distress".
Mr. Tatchell is charged "threatening, abusive and insulting words and behaviour" and with "assaulting a police officer".
A fourth OutRage! protester, John Hunt, was not arrested or charged.
Taking a lead from the British government's arrest of General Pinochet for human rights abuses, the four OutRage! activists attempted to have President Mugabe arrested on charges of torture under the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture, which Britain has signed and pledged to enforce.
A defence fund is being launched to cover the legal costs of the "Mugabe Three". Cheques should be made payable to "OutRage!" and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, with a note that the donation is for the Mugabe Three Defence Fund. Thank you.
The charges against the "Mugabe Three" were laid at Belgravia police station in central London today, 16 November 1999.
The police had, on 30 October, indicated that they might also charge Mr. Tatchell with assaulting President Mugabe and causing damage to his car, following complaints by the President and his entourage. But these charges have been shelved.
"President Mugabe told the police that I assaulted him and damaged his limosene. But the police have dropped plans to charge me with those offences because the President has refused to come to London to testify against me. Mugabe has chickened out. I challenge him to come to London and give evidence in court", said Mr. Tatchell.
After being photographed, finger-printed and DNA swabbed by Belgravia police, the "Mugabe Three" were bailed to appear at Horseferry Road Magistrate's Court at 10 a.m. this Friday, 19 November.
"We will plead not guilty", said Mr. Tatchell. "Our actions were a lawful attempt to apprehend President Mugabe for the crime of torture".
"We refute all the charges. OutRage! is a human rights group modelled on the non-violent methods of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. We would never use violence, even if we were provoked or assaulted by others. My 30 years of campaigning for gay human rights has involved over 1000 direct action protests. I have never before been accused of violence".
"It is bizarre that we have been charged for trying to bring a torturer to trial, while the police have allowed the torturer to go Christmas shopping at Harrods and then fly back to Zimbabwe a free man", said Mr. Tatchell.
The four OutRage! members ambushed President Mugabe's motorcade on Saturday 30 October as it left his hotel in Buckingham Gate, central London. Running out into the road, they forced his car to stop. Mr. Tatchell opened the car door. Grabbing the President's arm he said: "President Mugabe, you are under arrest for torture. Torture is a crime under international law".
Mr. Tatchell then turned to Mugabe's bodyguards and said: "Call the police. The President is under arrest on charges of torture".
When Mr. Tatchell attempted to present the police with a dossier from Amnesty International documenting the torture of two Zimbabwean journalists, Ray Choto and Mark Chavunduka, officers knocked aside the dossier and proceeded to arrest Mr. Tatchell and his two OutRage! colleagues, Alastair Williams, aged 31, a carpenter, and Chris Morris, aged 20, editor of the gay magazine Outcast. Mr. Morris was the gay man who took the British government to the European Court of Human Rights and got the unequal age of consent for gay people declared unlawful.
|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 Arrest: GALZ Response to "Pink Paper" Article
Blair Government Condemned over "Regret" to Mugabe
Zimbabwe's President Mugabe detained on charges of torture by gay rights protesters
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
|OutRage! Home Page||I Can See Queerly Now||Queer Intelligence||Queer History||Links to other Sites|