Under threat, landlord tells LGBT-friendly AIDS fighters to leave
Three days before Christmas, anti-gay vandals destroyed the office of CAMEF, an organization that fights for human rights and against AIDS among LGBT people and sex workers in Limbe in coastal Cameroon.
Leaders of CAMEF (Cameroon Association for Empowerment Outreach Programs) said they were “still in shock’ after finding the office burglarized by anti-LGBT vandals who left behind threatening messages stating “Go away, pede [fag], go away” and “Another warning: Go away”:
Our office door was pushed through by the persons that have been threatening us with … hateful signs and messages. They broke the main door’s handle and pushed it through.
The computer of CAMEF’s secretary was thrown on the floor. A digital camera and the laptop computers of the executive director and the sexual health and prevention coordinator were stolen. Files and documents were strewn on the floor. Tables were overturned and chairs were broken. The vandals left messages threatening murder and arson if the organization did not leave town, said Bill Simbo, the group’s executive director:
Printed notes were left around the premises of the organization with words like “Homosexuals go away, this is just a taste of the warning!” Another said, “We warned you go away! “Another said, “Next time we will padlock and burn all of you inside. Go away.”
The organization had recently received a grant for a security system, which was scheduled to be installed in two weeks.
Because of the threats, CAMEF’s landlord told the group it would have to leave:
From the beginning, the landlord knew about the humanitarian activities of the organization and he just told us to be careful so as not to get into trouble. But with the recent event and the way the people have started talking, thanks to the persons that gathered in the morning when rumours spread that the organization is defending homosexuals and that the building will soon be burnt by the culprits, … the landlord [said] he is deeply worried about the security of his other tenants and as well as that of his building, and that he wants us to leave his building by the end of the month of January!
CAMEF is seeking a new office, where it will install the security system and hire a security officer. In the meantime, for safety’s sake, it has temporarily suspended a program that allows members of the LGBT community to consult with a medical doctor who volunteers time at the office.
As a result of the vandalism, the organization is in a financial pinch. Simbo said they need to move to a new office but “we do not know how that will happen given the fact that our resources are limited. … We members of the LGBT community in this part of the country will be very grateful if kind-hearted persons could do something for us, no matter what it is!” For information about how to contribute, write to [email protected] or call (237) 74 07 64 65 or (237) 99 46 57 69.
CAMEF is a registered non-governmental organisation for the defense of human rights. The agency advocates for socially disadvantaged community groups, without distinction for religion, race or sexual orientation (LGBT community and sex workers). The organization was established in 2010 to provide information and HIV/AIDS prevention services to those without access to it.
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