Over 600 individuals were detained in a series of raids on gay nightclubs in Lima in late January and early February. According to accounts by individuals detained in the raids, members of the National Peruvian Police and the municipal police of Lima entered the popular gay nightclubs Sagitario, 1031, Kan Yu, Papillón, Agata, Aruba, Stefany, Sabor, and Rambler on the night of 26 January. Although the officers claimed to be seeking only those who were underage or lacked proper identification, they detained everyone present - a total of over 300 people - and did not inform anyone of the reason for their detention.
According to several eye-witnesses, those who approached the police to ask why they were being detained were beaten back with clubs. All of those detained were taken to the Sixth Precinct (known for its alleged mistreatment of detainees), where they were allegedly shoved, insulted, and subjected to demands for bribes. The majority of those detained were held until the following morning.
On 2 February, police raided several of the discos again, as well as the nightclub Imperio, and detainees report having been made to stand outside in the rain for four hours at the Sixth Precinct. On February 10, officers once again carried out a raid on Imperio. These sweeps resulted in the detention of several hundred more individuals.
Raids on lesbian and gay bars have occurred periodically in Lima, but the scope and severity of these raids is unprecedented. The raids are part of Operation Thunder, a campaign aimed at cracking down on prostitution. They send a troubling signal that police are stepping up official harassment of gays and lesbians, sex workers, transvestites, and other sexual minorities.
Movimiento Homosexual de Lima (MHOL) has denounced these attacks and in particular the involvement of Elmer Alva Leon, Prosecutor for Crime Prevention, and Deputy Mayor of Lima Abrahan Pacheco Cajaleon. MHOL is requesting that letters expressing grave concern about the raids be sent emphasizing the following points:
- Operation Thunder violates Peru's obligations regarding freedom of association and freedom from arbitrary detention under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as the guarantee in the Peruvian Constitution (art. 2) that "... no one shall be discriminated against on the basis of origin, race, sex, economic condition or other status."
- The police should immediately cease to carry out such raids and the Mayor of Lima and the Ministry of the Interior should take steps to fully investigate those who authorized and participated in them.
Send letters to:
- Teniente General
Antonio Ketin Vidal
PolicÍa Nacionaldel Peru
- Ministerio del Interior
Pza 30 De Agosto-San Isidro
- Sr. Alberto Andrade Carmona
Alcalde de Lima Metropolitana
- Jr. de la Union-Plaza de Armas
Lima #1, Cercado de Lima
Published on March 1, 1996 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization