Cameroonian gay activist Joseph Achilles Tiedjou has called on the police to urgently investigate the suspicious death of gay advocate and journalist Eric Ohena Lembembe. “This should not be another unsolved case against a gay activist in cameroon” Tiedjou told Iroko Africa in a telephone interview from the economic capital Douala.
Eric’s death body was discovered in his house in the capital Yaounde in the evening of Monday July 15th after his friends failed to contact him by telephone.
Tiedjou, a researcher with gay rights organization Association for the Defence of Homosexuals ADEFHO said Eric’s death body appear to have been mutilated. His feet and neck appeared to have been broken. “There is every evidence this is another homophobic crime in cameroon” he said. He called on the government to assume it’s responsibilities and protect all citizens whether they were gay or straight.
“The news about Eric’s death was very painful to the gay community…I knew him personally and also knew about his gay writings and other gay issues he defended, Tiedjou added.
Mr Lembembe was the executive director of the Cameroon Foundation for Aids and a gay writer and activists.
US based Human Rights Watch has condemned the killing and called the government to carry out a thorough investigatiosn into his death.
Before his death, Eric issued a statement July 1 following a series of attacks against gays and organizations that support them; “there is no doubt anti gay thugs are targeting those who support equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity…unfortunately, a climate of hatred and bigotry in Cameroon which extends to high levels in government , reassures homophobes that they can get away with these crimes”.
There has been no official government reaction following his death.
This will be the first time a gay activist is killed in Cameroon
Homosexuality is banned in Cameoon and a number of homophobic attacks against gays and people working to defend their rights have been recorded in recent times. Gay right lawyers Alice Nkom and Michel Togue have both received death threats by email and text messages from unknown people. They were also warned their children will be targeted.
A cameroon court in December 2012 upheld the 36 months sentence on gay man RogerJean Claude Mbede. He was sentenced for sending a text message to another man professing his love.
Speaking to two gay men Francoise Segue Pondy and Joseph Kuete in Manchester who are now claiming asylum in the UK, they told Iroko Africa they had to flee to England following a miserable existence in Cameroon. There have been four failed attempts to deport Joseph Kuete back to cameroon after British authorities rejected his application to be considered a refugee as a gay man.
“I cannot go back to Cameroon because I will be killed if i get back there” Kuete told Iroko Africa. Pondy’s application was also rejected. Both men have made fresh applications.
The killing of gay rights activist Eric Lembembe will add to their fears of being wounded or killed if they are deported to Cameroon.
My name is Jean Francois Pondy. I am a gay activist from Cameroon now in the UK.
I read about the killing of Eric Lembembe with shock.
To take someone’s life just because he is an LGBT activist who writes about being a homosexual and expressing yourself freely is more than a crime in Cameroon. Cameroonian law supports attacks against gay people. His death indicates people’s rights are not respected in Cameroon
People that are LGBT are also human beings and should be able to live their lives in peace and not live it in fear. Why is being a gay a problem and how does that affect any other person. Gay people should and must have equal rights in society. There is no reason to beat or kill people because they look or cat differently from most people.
In Cameroon, gays have to live in constant fear of what could happen to them. They must live in isolation sometimes away from their own family and friends and revealing their secrets could make the difference between life and death. They cannot live the life most other people take for granted.
If for any reason they get sick, going to hospital might put them in a lot of trouble. Cameroonian society treats gay people really badly and the brutal killing of Eric is a good example.
As a gay activist I am frightened of being sent back to Cameroon.
I could be attacked or like Eric, simply killed. The government of Camroon needs to guarantee the protection of all its citizens which is not the case now.