Sexual Minorities Uganda demands for the immediate release of the 13 activists that were arrested in Tanzania and falsely charged with “promoting homosexuality”.
Our Executive Director Dr Frank Mugisha calls upon the international community to speak up and directly hold Tanzania accountable for the violation of the human rights of the activists arrested and demand for their immediate release from jail.
Tanzania should adhere to the rule of fair hearing to persons arrested by not violating the activists’ human rights and clearly state the reason as to why they were denied bail and failure to do so court should set them free because the falsely accused activists are law abiding citizens and the foreign activists legally entered the country.
According to Douglas Mawadri our Safety and protection officer, Tanzania has the mandate to deport non-citizens who have violated the country’s directives so the imprisonment of the foreign activists is unlawful and an act of impunity.
The mother of Sibongile Ndashe the Executive Director of ISLA also one of the activists who was arrested said “I am concerned at the way my daughter was arrested and the fact that she is still being held without any charge. Since she was a child she has never done anything wrong, all she does is fight for other people’s rights so hearing that she was arrested while fighting for other people’s rights worries me. I’m confident that she will be released because God is always there.” She made the statement while at the Tanzania High Commission in Pretoria.
Our Administrator Diane Bakuraira says “As a human rights activist in Uganda I urgently urge all human rights activists to come together at this trying moment and demand for the immediate release of the 13 human rights activists currently incarcerated in Tanzania.” She adds that, “It is time for African governments to set the pace in upholding the constitutional rights of their citizens and visitors.”
According to a joint statement from both ISLA and CHESA the activists were arrested while at a meeting that was held in a bid to obtain further instructions and evidence on an upcoming case which they planned to file before a court. The case concerns a challenge to the Tanzanian government’s decision to limit the provision of certain health services that it had previously provided. Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli has constantly called for prosecution of LGBTI persons in Tanzania and could be seen as someone who awakened homophobia in a country that was tolerant while under the rule of previous presidents and more so the legacy of the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere who urged protection of human rights for all.
It is on these grounds that we demand for:
1. The immediate release of the 13 activists.
2. Return travel documents to the arrested foreign nationals so they can return to their homes and families safely.
3. An end to prosecution of LGBTI persons in Tanzania.
President John Pombe Magufuli-Tanzania