Responding to President Mugabe's assurance at the Commonwealth Summit that gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell would be welcome to visit Zimbabwe, Mr. Tatchell says he hopes to take up the President's offer early next year.

      "I want a meeting with the President to urge an end to human rights abuses, and to support his call for Britain to help fund land redistribution", said Mr. Tatchell.

      "The President is wrong to suggest that myself and OutRage! are part of a British-government conspiracy to sabotage his government's land reform programme. We agree with President Mugabe that Britain has a moral duty to help remedy the injustices of the colonial era by providing financial aid for a buy-back of white-owned farms.


      "Providing President Mugabe will guarantee my immunity from arrest and agree to meet me, I will go to Zimbabwe early next year. I hope to persuade him to drop his antigay crusade and to include a ban on discrimination against homosexuals in Zimbabwe's new constitution", said Mr. Tatchell.

      "I would gladly have afternoon tea with the President. I don't hate him. It is his homophobic policies that are objectionable. I would much prefer Mr. Mugabe to be a friend of the gay community, instead of an enemy.

      "A calm, reasoned meeting with the President might help remedy his misunderstandings about gay people and encourage him to adopt a more enlightened policy on gay issues.

      "I am prepared to forgive and forget, providing Mr. Mugabe starts respecting the human rights of all Zimbweans. He must take tough action to end the use of torture, censorship, detention without trial, and the suppression of strikes and peaceful protests.


      "Despite our disagreement on human rights issues, I support President Mugabe's request that Britain help fund a land reform programme, including a buy-back of white-owned farms. But this funding must be conditional on the Zimbabwe government ending human rights abuses and stamping out corruption.

      "There need to be guarantees that land reform will benefit impoverished rural communities, and not be squandered in corrupt handouts to Mr. Mugabe's cronies", said Mr. Tatchell.

      Mr. Mugabe made his offer that Tatchell would be welcome to visit Zimbabwe at the Commonwealth Summit in Durban on Friday, 12th November, as reported in the London newspaper, The Independent, on 13th November.


      At a preliminary court hearing on Friday, 19th November, Mr. Tatchell and two OutRage! colleagues, Chris Morris and Alastair Williams, pleaded "not guilty" to public disorder charges arising from the citizen's arrest of President Mugabe on 30th October, when they ambushed the President's car, forcing it to halt and allowing Mr. Tatchell to open the car door and grab Mugabe by the arm.

      Tatchell told the bewildered President: "President Mugabe, you are under arrest for torture. Torture is a crime under international law."

      The three OutRage! defendants who have been dubbed the "Mugabe Three" are expected to stand trial early next year.


      The citizen's arrest was the third year in a row that Mr. Tatchell has confronted President Mugabe over gay human rights abuses.

      Last year, he got into the ante-room of the President's apartment at the St. James's Court / Crown Plaza Hotel in London, before being stopped by security guards. He was sent away with the promise that the President would meet him the following day: but Mugabe then cried off, pleading a busy schedule.

      In 1998, Mr. Tatchell breached security at the Africa at 40 conference in London's Central Hall Westminster, challenging Mugabe face-to-face as he was taking tea with other African leaders and the conference organisers. Ejected by Special Branch officers, he was threatened with arrest, but never charged.


Add your voice to the protest

      To add your voice of protest, email the Zimbabwe Embassy (in Washington D.C.):
[email protected]


Letter from Congress of the United States to Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe Government
Zimbabwe Embassy, Washington D.C.
Zimbabwe Independent
Zimbabwe Independent: CIO quizzed over gay ambush of Mugabe in UK 5-November-1999
Zimbabwe International Book Fair
Zimbabwe Standard
Zimbabwe Standard + Independent: Defence Fund Appeal 9-February-1999
Amnesty International: Zimbabwe -- January-December 1997 1998 Report
Freemedia (Austria): World Press Freedom Review 1997 and 1998

Zimbabwe: Charges Dropped against Morris, Tatchell & Williams
Zimbabwe: Tatchell Death Threat
"Mugabe Three" Charged
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


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Author: Peter Tatchell
©1999 OutRage! London
URL: http://www.RoseCottage.me.uk/OutRage-archives/mugabe99d.htm
Last modified: 30-January-2000