Members of GALZ

The LGBT community in Harare is said to be in a state of panic and fear as police crackdown again on the 44 members of Gays and lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) who were arrested and released last week.

According to GALZ, police visited the homes of ten of the previously arrested members last night and again interrogated and even detained some of them.

The organisation said on Friday that it is not clear what the authorities want from the members, but so far three have been detained and then released.

Patience Mandishona from GALZ told Mambaonline that the activists were questioned about their personal lives and their sexuality. Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights are assisting other members who have been summoned to police stations in their respective neighbourhoods.

“We are outraged,” Mandishona said. “It doesn’t make sense why police are doing this to people. There is no reason to be arresting and harassing people like this. They have not done anything illegal.”

Last Saturday, riot police, some reported to be visibly drunk, raided the GALZ office in Harare in the midst of a meeting and allegedly beat and arrested thirty-one men and thirteen women. They were later released without being charged.

Mandishona said that the latest action had struck fear into the LGBT community and reflected the authorities’ continued harassment of LGBT people through unwarranted intimidation and arrests.

“The thing is we don’t know their intention. The community is scared and in panic and people don’t know what to do. We are scared that this will drive the community underground,” she said.

Mandishona added that the organisation is fearful for the safety of members who are arrested. “We don’t know what police could do to them,” she commented.

Mandishona said that GALZ is still trying to assess the scale of the latest police action and who has been targeted.

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