Cameroon | Crime | Deaths | Eric Ohena Lembembe | News

Prominent Gay Rights Activist in Cameroon Found Dead, Tortured

Human Rights Watch reports that Eric Ohena Lembembe, a gay rights activist and journalist, was found dead at his home on July 15 in Yaoundé, Cameroon. He had been brutally tortured:

LembembeLembembe’s friends discovered his body on Monday evening after being unable to reach him by telephone for two days, and went to his home. They found his front door padlocked on the outside, but could see Lembembe’s body lying on his bed through the window. Lembembe’s friends alerted the police, who broke down the door. According to one friend, Lembembe’s neck and feet appeared to have been broken, and his face, hands, and feet had been burned with an iron.

Lembembe was one of Cameroon’s most prominent LGBTI rights activists. On behalf of CAMFAIDS, he collaborated closely with Human Rights Watch and two other Cameroonian organizations, Alternatives-Cameroun and the Association for the Defense of Homosexuals (ADEFHO), in researching and launching a March 2013 report on prosecutions for consensual same-sex conduct. He also participated in drafting a submission for Cameroon’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2013 at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Lembembe was also a contributor to the blog “Erasing 76 Crimes” and authored several chapters in a book on LGBTI rights around the world, From Wrongs to Gay Rights. His organization assiduously documented arrests, violence, and blackmail against LGBTI people in Cameroon.

The group adds that Lembembe's murder has been preceded by a number of attacks, unchecked by the government, on LGBT and human rights organizations:

Lembembe’s killing follows several attacks on the offices of human rights defenders, including those working for equal rights for LGBTI people. On June 26, 2013, unidentified assailants burned down the Douala headquarters of Alternatives-Cameroun, which provides HIV services to LGBTI people. A few days earlier on June 16, the Yaoundé office of human rights lawyer Michel Togué, who represents clients charged with same-sex conduct, was burgled, and his legal files and laptop stolen. Both Togué and Alice Nkom, another lawyer who represents LGBTI clients, have received repeated death threats by email and SMS, including threats to kill their children. Although activists have reported all of these incidents, the Cameroonian authorities have not apprehended a single suspect.

HRW is urging authorities to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation.

Lembembe contributed to the blog 76 Crimes, which notes that one of its most popular articles was "What traditional African homosexuality learned from the West".

They add:

That article is included in the book From Wrongs to Gay Rights, along with his articles about Roger Mbede, who was imprisoned because of an amorous text message to a man; Franky Djome and Jonas Kumie, who were imprisoned because they are a transgender couple; anti-gay blackmailer/extortioner Albert Edward Ekobo Samba; and the homophobic attack on last year’s IDAHO celebration in Yaoundé.

He formerly worked as a writer and editor for the monthly Tribune du Citoyen in Cameroon.

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  1. How old was Lembembe?

    Posted by: Andy | Jul 16, 2013 1:23:11 PM

  2. The wrongful death of another hero. RIP.

    Posted by: DavidR | Jul 16, 2013 1:59:15 PM

  3. I can't even begin to understand the kind of true courage these men and women have. It's horrible and beyond sad that they don't make worldwide news. These heroes should be celebrated and not be forgotten.

    Posted by: oakpope | Jul 16, 2013 2:11:45 PM

  4. @Ratbastard,

    By saying you're not going to mention whites killing blacks in your color mix and match sentence, what you really mean is you're going to highlight that whites treat blacks better than the other way around. Funny way of not mentioning it.

    And if your criteria for not mentioning it is, as you stated, that whites killing blacks is rare, then you should also exclude blacks killing whites. 86% of all white murders are committed by whites, and 93% of black murders are committed by blacks. so we remain as segregated in murder as we do in everything else.

    Posted by: Brian1 | Jul 16, 2013 2:18:10 PM

  5. I feel so sad and powerless to stop this hate and violence against good men and women like Eric Lembembe. It's not much but I said a lttle prayer for Eric and hope that he is able to rest in peace.

    Posted by: Howard | Jul 16, 2013 3:16:11 PM

  6. Thank you, Brian1.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 16, 2013 3:23:39 PM

  7. @Brian1,

    Yes, you are correct and I agree with you. I worded my previous post poorly. Most violent crime is INTRA-RACIAL [within the same group]. 100% true. However, as far as INTER-RACIAL [involving two or more groups] is concerned, there's proportionately far more black on white than the other way around. The idea that there's this huge problem with violent white supremacist targeting and violently assaulting black people or other 'minorities' is a myth. IT IS NOT A MYTH or exaggeration to say there's a HUGE problem with violent crime perpetrated by young males 'of color', especially black males. They constitute on a yearly average over 50% of all murders in the U.S., even though they make up about 6% of the population. White and Asians are proportionate to their percentage of the population UNDERREPRESENTED.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 16, 2013 10:19:02 PM

  8. @Ratbastard

    We've had this argument for years, and nothing will ever change. Your main point seems to be that there's this huge liberal conspiracy to hide the crime rate among minorities, that it's not politically correct to discuss. That's simply not the case. The real problem is, as we both agree, the overwhelming majority of black violence is directed at other blacks, and really, very few people care about that. So it's swept under the table because it doesn't attract newspaper readers or tv viewers. It has nothing to do with political correctness.

    You started these comments by replying to a post from Derrick. He makes three points: 1)nobody ever cared about black on black violence, which is undeniably true. 2) There was a long history of white on black violence via lynchings etc that nobody cared about until the civil rights movement in the sixties. That is also true, and I hope you wouldn't dispute that. He doesn't say what you think he says, which is there's currently a huge problem with white supremacists killing blacks, he notes it as a historical fact. So nobody here is promoting this so called "myth". And his third point is that people really took notice when blacks began killing whites. Again that's indisputably true, as people like you and David Hearne are obsessed with this despite it being almost as rare as whites killing blacks.

    I don't think anybody denies that crime remains a major problem among minorities. We disagree about the cause of the problem, and the solution, but not the fact. And the good news for people like you and David is that whites are much more likely to be killed by other whites, so you can stop worrying so much about black on white violence.

    Posted by: Brian1 | Jul 17, 2013 3:05:08 AM

  9. MARTIN...!!! Thank You! We should all read your comment again: "I'm so glad that I was born a homosexual. No other aspect of myself has allowed me to know the hypocrisy of this world better than my sexual orientation."

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Jul 19, 2013 6:08:31 PM

  10. Mike, I don't give rat's ass whose religion it is. All the Abrahamic religions share culpability. It is just the Cameroon is a hot-bed of American evangelical proselytizing and has been thoroughly infected with that vile, spiritual decadence that is evangelical christianity.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jul 20, 2013 10:32:22 AM

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