A group of 13 activists and lawyers in Tanzania is behind bars this week for attempting to protect health initiatives against HIV.
A meeting between the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) and Community Health Services and Advocacy (CHESA) was raided by Tanzanian police as they were trying to prep a case against the government.
The group was making plans to fight against the country’s ban on drop-in centers that serve those most at risk of contracting HIV, and another ban on the importation of water-based lubes that help prevent the virus.
“No one has been charged, but all were granted bail,” a joint press statement from the two groups read. “On Friday, October 20, 2017, the bail was revoked for everyone for no reason.”
The group was reportedly then arrested again by authorities, despite no official charges against them.
There is a human rights crisis unfolding in Tanzania right now involving arbitrary detention of Human Rights Defenders and lawyers. https://t.co/HJmRINhaiQ
— Shawn Gaylord (@shawngaylord) October 23, 2017
“This peaceful group of activists and lawyers will now spend the weekend behind bars despite having done nothing wrong—as illustrated by the fact the authorities have failed to even find a crime to charge them with,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues and Research. “These baseless detentions are the latest example of the Tanzanian authorities’ ongoing, unlawful witch hunt against the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.”
Just last month, police in Tanzania arrested 20 men suspected of being homosexuals as part of the country’s anti-gay crackdown.
The friend of one of the lawyers arrested shared a Facebook post that details how people can help get the activists released from jail, asking them to contact the Tanzanian High Commission about the fact that the detention is illegal. He provided a form letter that can be edited and shared with your nearest embassy in order to help free the group.