Tributes to murdered HIV and LGBT campaigner ahead of London vigil

July 22, 2013
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One week after his death and further tributes have been made to Eric Ohena Lembemb, ahead of tomorrow’s west London vigil for the murdered LGBT and HIV Cameroonian campaigner.

The body of Mr Lembemb was found at his home in Cameroon’s capital city Yaounde last Monday evening.

His neck and feet appeared to have been broken and his face, hands, and feet burned with an iron.

On Tuesday, campaigners from the African Out & Proud LGBT group will stage a peaceful demonstration in memory of Mr Lembemb outside the Cameroonian Embassy in London, Holland Park, from 2pm-4pm.

The group are demanding “an immediate investigation” into Mr Lembemb’s death and an end to violent homophobic persecution in Cameroon.

He was the executive director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS).

Writing in the Daily Beast, Neela Ghoshal, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Kenya, paid tribute to her deceased colleague.

“I had last seen Lembembe in March, on a sticky, humid evening in Yaounde. We had released a joint report on human-rights abuses against people accused of homosexual conduct in Cameroon two days earlier. The head of the gendarmerie—Cameroon’s military police—had finally agreed to meet with us. We wanted to raise the many cases we had documented of arbitrary arrests, ill treatment, and torture of people alleged to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.”

She added: “Eric had recently been named executive director of CAMFAIDS. He was smart and full of creative plans and a fierceness needed in Cameroon, where homosexual conduct is criminalised. People are arrested frequently and can get up to five years in prison. As a gay man whose activism had made him increasingly open about his identity—a bold stance in Cameroon—it was one of Lembembe’s goals to change this injustice.”

“Eric was a courageous public champion of the rights of LGBT people and people with HIV,” human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said today. “He was subjected to a particularly horrific, brutal attack. Many other LGBT people in Cameroon have been victims of violent threats and assaults.”

Mr Tatchell added: “Cameroon should be suspended from the Commonwealth. Its anti-gay witch-hunt violates Commonwealth values and the Commonwealth Charter.

“The Commonwealth Secretary General must end his silence and speak out publicly against homophobic persecution in Cameroon. President Paul Biya should also publicly condemn the killing and halt the state-sponsored victimisation of LGBT people.”

So far no arrests have been made in relation to Mr Lembemb’s death.

Same-sex sexual activity is punishable by up to five years imprisonment in Cameroon.

Government spokesman Issa Tchiroma criticised foreign journalists for reporting the story late last week — saying it was “dragging” the country’s image “into the mud”.


Related topics: Africa, Africa, anti-gay law, anti-gay laws, Cameroon, Cameroon, Cameroonian, Gay rights, gay rights campaigner, HIV, homophobic law, homophobic laws, human rights watch, LGBT campaigner, LGBT rights, Peter Tatchell

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