The United States on Thursday condemned Zimbabwe over raids on the offices of a gay rights group and urged authorities to end a “pattern of abuse” against civil society.
Activists said that two truckloads of police on Monday raided offices of the group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, rounding up 44 people in what authorities called a search for illegal data and offensive materials.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned the raids and said several people sustained serious injuries. She said the United States “stands in solidarity” with Zimbabwe’s gay rights activists and other civil society.
“We are deeply concerned when security forces become an instrument of political violence used against citizens exercising their democratic rights,” Nuland said in a statement.
“We call upon the government of Zimbabwe to end this pattern of abuse and to eradicate the culture of impunity that allows members of the security sector to continue to violate the rights of the Zimbabwean people,” she said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has championed gay rights around the world. Earlier this month on a visit to Uganda, she honored the “brave” rights activists fighting a proposal to punish homosexual acts with the death penalty.
The United States and European Union maintain sanctions against Zimbabwe’s veteran President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle as they press for free elections and democratic reforms.