More mob violence in Cameroon; anti-gay attacks continue

Jonas Singa Kumie et Franky Djome (Photo par Eric O. Lembembe)
Jonas Singa Kumie and Franky Djome (Photo by Eric O. Lembembe)

Activists in Cameroon have reported two new mob attacks against LGBT people in the country’s capital of Yaoundé.

The violence occurred a few days before a Day Against Homosexuality demonstration, proposed for Aug. 21, and a month after the murder of gay activist Eric Lembembe. The attacks were the latest in a series of anti-gay crimes that have not been prosecuted, including:

The latest violence came on Aug. 15, when a mob in the Essos neighborhood of Yaounde attacked Jonas Singa Kumie and Franky Djome Djome, two transgender people who were freed from prison in January after serving 18 months of a five-year sentence for homosexual activity. The pair often goes by the names Doloresse and Naomi and wear women’s attire.

Shortly after their release from prison, they were attacked by a mob, which allegedly included a policeman, and then went into hiding. They were attacked again twice by late March, when they were rescued by police and were detained for three days before being released.

They were assaulted Aug. 15 at the Essos market, where they had been attacked previously. The pair was riding a motorbike when a mob gathered around them and closed the gates of the market, according to an observer from the association Humanity First Cameroon, which works to defend human rights for LGBT people.

Kumie managed to escape, but Djome did not.  The mob beat and tore the clothes of Djome, who got onto the motorbike to try to leave and then fell off.  One man broke a bottle to try to stab Djome.  The observer caught the eye of nearby police, who intervened and rescued Djome.

RJC spokesman Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka
RJC spokesman Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka

By coincidence, another mob 500 meters away in the Apollo Bar was beating up a 16-year-old boy whom they called a “faggot.”  The observer from Humanity First said the boy had been tied up “as an animal” and severely beaten.  Police responded to the scene and saved the youth from further beatings.

At a time when the LGBT communities of Cameroon remain afraid and on edge because of the unsolved murder of Lembembe, the next worry is  “International Day Against Homosexuality,” a protest scheduled for Aug. 21 by the anti-homosexuality organization Movement of Young Cameroonians, or RJC.

The organization says it is preparing banners, leaflets and placards for the demonstration, although last year’s first “International Day Against Homosexuality” passed without any evidence of any substantial protests.

RJC leader Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka is pushing the nation to increase the prison sentence for homosexual activity to 20 years from its present five years.

One LGBT activist commented, “On the eve of the Day against Homosexuality, decreed by an excited homophobe, we fear the worst for homosexuals and those who defend their rights.”

Related articles about the so-called ‘International Day Against Homosexuality’
Related articles about Jonas Kumie and Franky Djome

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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