Raid on the offices of LGBTI rights organisation in Zimbabwe

June 11, 2013

On 6 June 2013 five unknown assailants wielding hammers forced entry into the Harare offices of human rights organisation Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). GALZ is an association founded in 1990 that advocates social tolerance for sexual minorities and the repeal of homophobic legislation in Zimbabwe.  On the morning of the raid, the assailants gained entry by disguising one of their group as a mentally challenged person and driving in whilst this member threatened the security personnel at the gate with a hammer. Upon entry, the assailants forced all staff present into the Guard Room and locked them there whilst they ransacked the offices, gathering laptops, mobile phones and bags which contain sensitive information about the work of the organisation and individual members. It is believed that the incident was not a normal robbery, but an attack carried out under orders, as the assailants frequently made contact over the phone with an unknown person called ‘Machacha‘ from an unknown ‘security wing’. In a statement, GALZ said “GALZ is not taking this incident as a random act of attempted robbery but that of deliberate attack by the youth militia, acting on the orders of someone superior.” [President Robert Mugabe has in the past made some extremely homophobic comments] 

Perhaps surprisingly but mercifully, the police arrived swiftly and arrested the assailants, who have now been taken for further questioning at Harare Central Police Station. No members of staff were injured during the raid, and most of the equipment which the assailants had gathered has been returned to GALZ.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

Front Line Defenders welcomes the swift action of the Zimbabwean police, but remains concerned about the motives behind the raid, which are possibly related to the peaceful and legitimate work that GALZ carries out in defence of human rights, particularly LGBTI rights, in Zimbabwe.

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