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Zimbabwe: Raid on the Offices of LGBTI Rights Organisation GALZLetter by William Gomes Salem-News.com
The latest incident comes in the context of a very difficult climate for LGBTI rights defenders in Zimbabwe.
(YORK, UK) - On 6 June 2013, at approximately 11am, 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, the targeted organisation explained; “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.”
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.
The latest incident comes in the context of a very difficult climate for LGBTI rights defenders in Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe has in the past made some extremely homophobic comments. Last year, attempts were made to enshrine LGBTI rights in the country's new constitution, but were unsuccessful.
Salem –News.com's Human Rights Ambassador 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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Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.
He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.
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