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Imprisoned, beaten, freed, Cameroon man gives back

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede urges support for Amnesty International
Jean-Claude Roger Mbede urges support for Amnesty International

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience from Cameroon, is urging his supporters to join the group that helped hasten his release.

This summer Mbede won release from a three-year prison sentence in order to receive medical care.  He still faces an appeal hearing that could put an end to his current freedom.

Mbede’s letter states:

Two months ago, I did not know if I would make it out of prison alive.

I live in Cameroon, where being gay is illegal. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people like me exist in constant fear of hate and violence.

Last year I was convicted of “homosexuality and attempted homosexuality” and thrown in Kondengui central prison in Yaounde, the capital city of Cameroon. In this hellish place, I was singled out for being gay and cruelly attacked on multiple occasions.

Today I am deeply grateful to be alive and a free man. Though my release from prison is provisional, I fear that without Amnesty International’s support I would still be there.

I am raising my voice for Amnesty, because Amnesty raised its voice for me. Please, stand together with me to defend human rights with Amnesty.

There are many more like me, unjustly imprisoned for who we are.

It is your solidarity that lifts us from despair.

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede with activist attorney Alice Nkom of Cameroon
Jean-Claude Roger Mbede with activist attorney Alice Nkom of Cameroon (Photo courtesy of Amnesty International)

In prison, when I received my first letters from Amnesty supporters, I knew that I belonged to a big family, a worldwide family. Your letters were a beacon of hope in that dark place.

You touched my heart. You never gave in.

My hope is that one day all LGBTI people will be able to walk free in Cameroon – indeed everywhere – holding our heads high, without any danger or discrimination.

Your support represents hope for all who suffer the indignities and pain of human rights abuses. I celebrate my freedom, but I will not rest until we are all truly free.

I ask you to become a member now, during Amnesty’s September Membership Drive, so that your gift will be matched and go even farther.

For more information about Mbede’s story and his current situation, see the blog post from July 21, “Gay in Cameroon: after beatings in prison, rejection at home.”

 

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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