Friday, 16 September 2011

Cameroon: Jailed for Texting? Major new campaign launched

Me Alice NkomAlice N'Kom image via Wikipedia
By Alice N'Kom

My name is Alice N'Kom, and here in Cameroon I am one of the only attorneys who defends people who've been jailed because they are gay.

In the last two weeks violence against gay people in Cameroon has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels: the situation is quickly becoming a crisis. The president of Cameroon can put a stop to this, and if he feels enough pressure he will do so.

I'm watching police in Cameroon conduct an anti-gay crackdown - over 10 people have been arrested on charges of "homosexuality" in the last month. One of them, Jean-Claude, has been sentenced to three years in prison merely for sending a text message to another man.

I've heard countless recent stories of homophobic violence throughout the country. I'm 66, and in ten years of defending lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people in Cameroon, it has never been this bad.

Only one person can put an end to this gay bashing - President Paul Biya. He can stop the escalating crisis of homophobic roundups and attacks, and he can immediately release those still in prison and call for the end of Cameroon's laws against homosexuality.

Time is running out. I'm headed to Cameroon's capital, Yaoundé, to confront the President with these demands. He will not be able to ignore a powerful outcry from every corner of the globe. I am counting on your help.

Alice N'Kom is a Cameroonian attorney, founder of the Association for the Defense of LGBT Rights in Cameroon (ADEFHO). This appeal letter was written in partnership with Alternatives-Cameroun.

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