Brain damage forces Peter Tatchell to give up politics

Peter Tatchell December 16th, 2009

Brain injuries sustained while protesting have forced human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell to stand down as the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

Tatchell was beaten unconscious by Robert Mugabe’s bodyguards in Brussels in 2001, after attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of the Zimbabwean leader on charges of torture. In 2007 Tatchell sustained severe head injuries after being attacked by neo-Nazis during Moscow’s Gay Pride.

Tatchell never fully recovered from the attacks, and his injuries were compounded by a traffic accident in July 2009 in which he hit his head on a metal bus handrail.

“The injuries don’t stop me from campaigning but I am slower, make more mistakes, get tired easily and take longer to do things,” explained Tatchell.

“My memory, concentration, balance and coordination have been adversley affected. I can’t campaign at the pace I used to.

“It would not be right for me to seek election if I could not do the job of an MP to the high standards that I want and that Oxford East voters have a right to expect.”

Tatchell’s brain damage is probably permanent and he is unlikely to ever make a full recovery. However, doctors advise that if he reduces his workload his condition may improve in a year or two.

“I don’t regret a thing,” insists Tatchell. “Getting a thrashing and brain injuries was not what I had expected or wanted. But I was aware of the risks. Taking risks is sometimes necessary, in order to challenge injustice. My beatings had the positive effect of helping draw international attention to the violent, repressive nature of the Russian and Zimbabwean regimes. I’m glad of that.

“My physical inconveniences are nothing by comparison to the far worse beatings inflicted on human rights defenders in countries like Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Columbia, Sudan and Burma. These heroic activists often end up jailed or dead. I count myself lucky.”


  • He’s a brave man to have taken all he has. I wish him the best and for a full recovery, if possible.

    Lavender ∼ December 16th, 2009 2:40 pm
  • He is such a great activist figure to me, as hearing of his work helped to get started. It’s so sad to hear about what happened to him, I knew that things like this does occur to some activists, but I never thought that it would be as serioous or permanent as this. At least it hasn’t stopped him! Keep it up, Peter, I wish you all the best :)

    Tallulah ∼ December 17th, 2009 4:17 pm
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