Ivory Coast: Seeking help for LGBT activists under attack

The human rights advocacy group Front Line Defenders has urged the government of Ivory Coast to intervene to stop death threats and attacks against LGBT rights activists there.

(For background, see this blog’s article “Ivory Coast: Activists under attack by anti-gay mobs.”)  Front Line Defenders writes:

Ivory Coast – Death threats and attacks against LGBTI rights defender Mr Claver Touré and Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire

"No fags," says a sign posted at the home of LGBT rights activists in Ivory Coast. (Photo courtesy of Alternative Cote d'Ivoire)
“No fags,” says a sign posted at the home of LGBT rights activists in Ivory Coast. (Photo courtesy of Alternative Cote d’Ivoire)

On 23 January 2014, for the second consecutive day, a homophobic mob violently attacked the offices of Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire, in what appears to be a series of co-ordinated attacks that began with an attack on the home of LGBTI rights defender Mr Claver Touré on 20 January. Claver Touré is the president of Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire, an organisation that fights against homophobia and advocates for better health care for sexual minorities in Ivory Coast.

On the evening of 20 January 2014, at approximately 7.30pm, an angry mob composed of people from the Cocody area, a residential quarter of Abidjan where Claver Touré’s house as well as the offices of his organisation are located, launched an attack on the human rights defender’s home. At the gate of his home, they began to chant homophobic slogans, insulted the occupants of the house and made death threats against them. Feeling seriously threatened, Claver Touré alerted the local police. Upon the arrival of the police, the mob dissipated. The human rights defender left to the commissariat with the police but on his way home, he judged it best to spend the rest of the night in the office of his organisation. For security reasons he has not been able to return home.

On 22 January 2014, a similar mob of an estimated sixty people, composed of men, women and children, this time targeted the offices of Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire. As well as chanting homophobic slogans and proffering insults against the members of the organisation, they also began to throw stones at the offices, breaking some windows of the house. The attacks continued the next day.

At this moment, rumours are circulating that a more virulent attack is envisioned for 25 January 2014. The members of Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire suspect that the neighbourhood youth leader is behind this attack. In order to justify the attacks, some members of the mob told the press that they consider activists such as Claver Touré to be a threat to the education of their children. The human rights defender and his colleagues have since been forced to suspend their activities, and the majority of them have gone into hiding until such a time as their security has been re-established.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned by the repeated attacks as well as the death threats which Claver Touré and his colleagues at Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire have been facing since the beginning of the week in relation to their legitimate work in defence of the rights of minorities, including the right to health.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Ivory Coast to:

1. Carry out a thorough, impartial and immediate investigation into the violent incidents at Claver Touré’s home and the offices of Alternative – Côte d’Ivoire with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Immediately take measures to guarantee the security of Claver Touré and his colleagues, and ensure that threats against them immediately stop and are not reiterated;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Ivory Coast are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including death threats and physical violence.

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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 [email protected]


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