The United States condemns the heavy-handed raid by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers on a private event hosted by Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) on the evening of August 11.
Following the launch of the 2011 LGBTI Rights Violations Report, which documents cases of police harassment and arbitrary arrest of GALZ members, and a discussion of the draft constitution, fifteen riot squad officers forcibly entered the GALZ premises and assaulted dozens of assembled citizens. The police officers violently took 44 Zimbabweans to the police station, where they were detained overnight without charge or access to lawyers. Several of the detained Zimbabweans sustained serious medical injuries from the attacks and immediately sought medical attention once freed.
This raid is the latest in a series of assaults by elements of the security sector against civil society groups in Zimbabwe. The targeting and abusive treatment of non-governmental groups by members of the police is a deeply disturbing part of life in Zimbabwe. Too often, the Zimbabwe Republic Police becomes an instrument of political violence for use against citizens exercising their democratic rights, rather than maintaining its proper role of the people’s protector and guardian of law and order.
Government’s role is to reflect and serve the will of the governed. A vibrant civil society is vital to informing government of the public’s will as well as to monitoring the government’s actions in the name of the people. The United States stands in solidarity with Zimbabwe’s civil society and calls upon the Government of Zimbabwe to end the pattern of abuse by elements within the Zimbabwe Republic Police against the people and to eradicate the culture of impunity that allows members of the security sector to continue to violate the rights of the people.