Blair Government Condemned over “Regret” to Mugabe

Call for Zimbabwe’s Explusion from the Commonwealth

OutRage! has condemned as “shameful appeasement” the British Government’s expression of “regret” to President Mugabe over his citizen’s arrest by OutRage! members during a visit to London on the 30th October.

The words of regret were expressed to Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister in a phone call by Peter Hain MP, Minister of State at the Foreign Office in London.

“Instead of regretting our protest in defence of human rights, the Foreign Office should have apologised to the people of Zimbabwe for failing to arrest President Mugabe over his government’s violation of the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture”, said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.

“Despite being presented with evidence that the Zimbabwe government condones torture, the Metropolitan Police and Attorney-General allowed Mugabe to go Christmas shopping at Harrods and then fly back to Zimbabwe.”

Mr. Tatchell, who arrested President Mugabe during the OutRage! ambush of the President’s motorcade in central London, is a former Labour parliamentary candidate, who fought the Bermondsey by-election in 1983. He has written to the Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. Tatchell’s letter urges Mr. Blair to initiate moves at next week’s Commonwealth Summit in South Africa to “expel Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth and to suspend British aid to Zimbabwe, until such time as Robert Mugabe’s government halts its attacks on the gay community and other abuses of human rights”.

Meanwhile, Tatchell has revealed that he campaigned in the 1970s in support of ZANU’s “Chimurenga” to overthrow white minority rule in Zimbabwe.

“During the 1970s, when I was a student, I supported ZANU’s war of liberation, fundraising to buy medical supplies for ZANU’s fighters in the bush”, said Tatchell.

“The President has betrayed ZANU’s ideals of social justice and human rights. Mugabe is Ian Smith with a black face. It is sickening the way he comes to London to buy luxuries at Harrods while millions of Zimbabweans are living in poverty”, he said.

Mr. Tatchell detailed the citizen’s arrest of President Mugabe and condemned human rights abuses by the Zimbabwean government in an interview on NETWORK AFRICA, which was broadcast to Zimbabwe by the BBC World Service last Monday morning, 8th November 1999, at 3:30 and 5:30 hours GMT.

Peter Tatchell, Chris Morris and Alastair Williams of OutRage! were arrested for their involvement in the citizen’s arrest of President Mugabe. They were held in police cells for 7 hours (until Mugabe had left Britain). Released on police bail, they are required to report to Belgravia police station in London on Tuesday, 16th November at 10 a.m., when they will be informed whether they are to be prosecuted.