Archive for the ‘Malawi’ Category
UK urged to act on Malawi arrests
Foreign Secretary receives OutRage! appeal for action
Tatchell letter delivered to jailed men
London, UK – 8 January 2010
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is being urged to press the Malawian government to release two men, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who are being held on remand over their alleged homosexual relationship, to drop all charges against them and to repeal the country’s anti-gay laws.
Mr Miliband is also being asked to seek a halt to the arrest and prosecution of three Malawian human rights campaigners, who publicly defended the jailed men and secured them legal representation.
The call comes from the London-based LGBT human rights group OutRage! Spokesperson, David Allison, has written to the Foreign Secretary, appealing to him to make representations to the President of Malawi, his Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
A copy of Mr Allison’s letter follows below.
Meanwhile a letter of “support and solidarity” from OutRage!’s Peter Tatchell is being delivered to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in Chichiri Prison, Malawi. The two men, who were arrested following their engagement ceremony late last year, are being held on remand on gay sex charges ahead of their trial on 15 January
A copy of Mr Tatchell’s letter follows below.
For background on the Malawi arrests, see here:
Protest to the Malawian High Commissioner in London:
His Excellency Dr. Francis Moto, High Commission of Malawi, 70 Winnington Road, London N2 0TX, United Kingdom. Telephone: +44(0) 20 8455 5624, Fax: +44(0) 20 3235 1066. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gift Trapence, Executive Director of the Malawian human rights group CEDEP
Copy of the OutRage! letter to David Miliband MP, British Foreign Secretary:
David Miliband MP
Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH
6 January 2010
Dear Secretary of State,
This letter is in support of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, citizens of Malawi, who are being held in custody in Chichiri Prison, Malawi, and denied bail, on charges of consenting adult homosexuality following their same-sex engagement ceremony.
In doing so they have committed no criminal offence under the laws of Malawi. The ceremony is legal in Malawi and no laws were broken by the two participants.
The news release below provides more comprehensive details about their case.
We ask you to intercede with the President of Malawi, his Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to urge that these two men are not ill-treated while in prison, to urge that they are swiftly released on bail and to urge that all charges against them are dropped.
We further ask you to press the Government of Malawi to initiate moves to decriminalise homosexuality in accordance with the equality and non-discrimination clauses of the Malawian constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Finally, we ask that you call upon the Malawian government to halt police harassment and legal proceedings against HIV educators and human rights defenders from the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP); three of whose workers have recently been arrested following their public defence of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga and following their HIV education work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
I hope that you feel able to make these humanitarian representations to the leaders of Malawi and that you will advise us at your earliest opportunity.
OutRage! – The LGBT Human Rights Campaign
Copy of Peter Tatchell’s message the jailed men, Tiwonge and Steven:
Dear Tiwonge and Steven,
May 2010 bring you and all Malawians justice, freedom and equality.
Congratulations on your courageous witness for gay human rights, as you battle for your right to be accepted, without discrimination.
Millions of people around the world know about your arrest and detention. You have received worldwide news coverage.
Stay Strong. We are with you in this period of trial and tribulation.
You are inspirations to us all. We salute you.
Take heart. You will win in the end. Justice and freedom will triumph.
You follow in the footsteps of the Malawians who fought against colonialism and the South Africans who battled against apartheid. They were arrested and persecuted, but they were victorious eventually.
Tell the judge that Malawi’s anti-gay law was not devised by Malawians. It is was devised in London in the nineteenth century and imposed on the people of Malawi by the British colonisers and their army of occupation. Before the British came and conquered Malawi,
there were no laws against homosexuality. These laws are a foreign imposition. They are not African laws.
You are making history, and history will honour you.
I send you love and solidarity!
Peter Tatchell, OutRage! London, UK
Donate to the Malawi Defence Campaign
To make a donation from a UK bank within the UK, make an electronic bank transfer to OutRage!
Account name: OutRage!
Bank: Alliance and Leicester Commercial Bank, Bootle, Merseyside, GIR 0AA
Account number: 7780 9302
Sort code: 72-00-01
For electronic transfers from abroad, please ADDITIONALLY quote this:
Or post a cheque payable to “OutRage!” to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT. Enclose a note giving your name and address and stating that your donation is for the Malawi Defence Campaign. OutRage! will pass the money donated to the LGBT campaign team in Malawi. Thank you.
OutRage! – 0208 240 0222 and email@example.com
Gift Trapence, Executive Director of the Malawian human rights group CEDP
Peter Tatchell, OutRage!
Malawi ‘gay marriage’ trial on 15 January
Defendants refused bail, face gay sex charges
Human rights defender arrested on false porn charges
London – 5 January 2009
A Malawian court yesterday refused bail to two men who celebrated their engagement to be married in a traditional African ceremony, which they held late last year.
Giving his ruling at a court in the city of Blantyre on Monday 4 January, judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa claimed Steven Monjeza (26) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (20) were at risk of mob violence and would be safer in custody – a claim rejected by the defendants and their lawyers.
In Malawi, even people accused of serious crimes like violent robbery and assault usually get bail.
The same day the police arrested a worker from the human rights group CEDEP, which assisted the detained men and secured them legal representation.
“Steven and Tiwonge are the first same-sex couple to begin the process of getting married in Malawi,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage! in London, who has been liaising with human rights defenders inside Malawi to support the detained men.
“The two men have been returned to Chichiri Prison pending their trial on charges of homosexuality, scheduled for Friday 15 January in Blantyre,” added Mr Tatchell.
“They face a maximum sentence of 14 years jail, under Malawi’s anti-gay law, section 153 of the penal code, which was originally imposed on the country by the British colonisers during the nineteenth century.
“Both men deny the charges and will challenge the prosecution on the grounds that it is illegal under the equal rights and non-discrimination clauses of the Malawian constitution.
“Tiwonge and Steven are quite fearful and dejected. They were jeered in court and have been disowned by their families. Conditions in Chichiri jail are appalling. They say they have been beaten in prison and they are now threatened with forced intimate medical examinations to determine whether they have had sex.
“Visitors have taken them food and clothing and given them some money. They encouraged them to stand firm and reassured them that they have support inside Malawi and worldwide. This has lifted their spirits.
“Steven and Tiwonge now have a good legal team, including Mauya Msuku, Felix Tandwe and Noel Supedi.
“They also have the support of the Malawian human rights group, the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), which works to defend the welfare of marginalised communities, including prisoners, sex workers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“Ominously, the administrator of CEDEP was arrested on 4 January on trumped up charges that the group’s safer sex HIV education materials are pornographic. His arrest is almost certainly in retaliation for CEDEP’s public support for Tiwonge and Steven. There are concerns that the Executive Director of CEDEP, Gift Trapence, may now also face arrest by the police.
“This prosecution is illegal. It is contrary to section 20 of the Malawi constitution, which outlaws all discrimination and it violates the equal treatment provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Malawi has signed and pledged to uphold.
“Malawi’s anti-gay laws were not devised by Malawians. They were devised in London in the nineteenth century and imposed on the people of Malawi by the British colonisers and their army of occupation. Before the British came and conquered Malawi, there were no laws against homosexuality. These laws are a foreign imposition. They are not African laws,” said Mr Tatchell.
See details of the Malawian constitution and African human rights law below.
Donate to the Malawi Defence Campaign:
To make a donation to support the jailed men, post a cheque payable to “OutRage!” to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT. Enclose a note giving your name and address and stating that your donation is for the Malawi Defence Campaign. OutRage! will pass all money donated to Tiwonge and Steven’s defence team in Malawi. Thank you.
OutRage! – 0208 240 0222 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Gift Trapence, Executive Director of CEDP
Peter Tatchell, OutRage!
Constitution of Malawi – Article 20:
1. Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are…guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights – Articles 2, 3 and 4:
Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.
1. Every individual shall be equal before the law. 2. Every individual shall be entitled to equal protection of the law.
Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.