Pakistani President Musharraf’s limousine was forced to stop in London, when gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell ran in front of his car in protest at the “dictator’s suppression of democracy and human rights.”
The ambush happened on Friday night outside the Hilton Hotel Park Lane, as the President’s motorcade drew close to the hotel, where he was scheduled to speak.
“To avert police attention, I stood inconspicuously at a bus stop reading a newspaper, waiting for Musharraf’s motorcade to arrive,” said Tatchell.
“When the police motorcycle escorts drew level, I ran out into Park Lane and straight in front of the President’s car. It screeched to a halt. I unfurled a placard protesting against Musharraf’s massacre of civilians in occupied Baluchistan.”
The placard read: “Stop Pakistan Massacre of Baluch people.”
“Musharraf could clearly see the placard. He did not look pleased,” noted Tatchell.
The driver tried to back up and drive around the activist, but he ran in front of the limousine again, forcing it to halt once more. “The limo reversed again and tried to swerve past me. I blocked it for the third time. Musharraf and his colleagues look very agitated,” said Tatchell.
Eventually, police motorcycle escorts dragged Tatchell from the bonnet of Musharraf’s vehicle. Shortly afterwards, police let him go and he joined the main anti-Musharraf demonstration outside the Hilton Hotel, organised by lawyers protesting against the arrest of fellow lawyers and supreme court judges in Pakistan.
While Tatchell is best known for his activism for gay and lesbian causes – including attempting to arrest Robert Mugabe – he also campaigns against other human rights abuses.
Musharraf has limited freedom of expression, the judiciary and political activity in Pakistan in the run-up to the country’s planned elections next month,
“Pakistani human rights groups say his regime practices detention without trial, torture and extra-judicial killings. Musharraf is a criminal. He should be arrested by the UK authorities and put on trial in The Hague,” said Tatchell.