Anti-gay extortionists have free rein in Cameroon

Location of Douala in Cameroon (Map courtesy of Penpals-du-Monde.blogspot.com)
The location of Douala in Cameroon

A notorious extortionist in coastal Cameroon has threatened to unleash an anti-gay mob against a human rights leader in Douala, Cameroon.

In response, the REDHAC human rights organization asked for government intervention, so far to no avail.

This is just the latest in a series of threats by a gang of blackmailers and extortionists against LGBT people in Cameroon, never stopped by police and sometimes encouraged by them. Similar incidents have occurred for years, most recently in December, January and February. Each time, police have turned away victims’ complaints.

In a press release on March 7, REDHAC (the Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa) said that Arold Ndelo, alias Nicky Ménage, threatened mob action against Simon Biatch of the anti-AIDS, pro-rights group Alternatives-Cameroon  unless he turned over his laptop, DVD player, and mobile phone.

REDHAC banner
REDHAC banner

The incident began on the evening of Feb. 27, when Biatch met a young man in the Cite-Cicam area of Douala after corresponding with him on an online dating site. At the rendezvous, Biatch recognized Ndelo as the leader of a band of blackmailers, REDHAC said.

Biatch soon left the rendezvous and headed home, but was followed by Ndelo, who threatened to expose him to his neighbors as a homosexual. Ndelo alerted the neighbors after Biatch attempted to hold onto his possessions.

A crowd gathered, calling Biatch a “faggot” and threatening to burn him alive if he did not leave the neighborhood. Biatch only escaped with the help of a young man who agreed to assist him for money, REDHAC said.

In February, police in Douala arrested another Alternatives-Cameroon official after he was denounced as a homosexual by another member of the Arold Ndelo gang,  Alternatives-Cameroon said. Dr. Richard, who is an officer of the association and a doctor combating AIDS at the group’s health center, was arrested, held over the weekend, could not work at an AIDS clinic, and finally was released on Feb. 17 after spending three days in jail.

Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Cameroon's minister of communication (Photo courtesy of Camer.be)
Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Cameroon’s minister of communication (Photo courtesy of Camer.be)

At the time, Alternatives-Cameroon stated that the arrest demonstrated the inaccuracy of the statement of Issa Bakary Tchiroma, Cameroon’s minister of communication, on Jan. 23 that in Cameroon “There is no judicial harassment” of homosexuals.

In January, many of Ndelo’s victims complained to police about his threats and extortion, but police took no action against him.  Afterwards, Ndelo began making death threats against those who had testified against him, Alternatives-Cameroon said.

In December, police threatened homosexuality charges against an LGBT man who sought their help after he was assaulted by Ndelo,  Alternatives-Cameroon said. The man, identified as Désiré N, was joined at the police station by previous victims of Ndelo, who told of being blackmailed by him. But instead of pressing charges against the extortionist/blackmailer, police threatened Désiré N with court action, Alternatives-Cameroon said.

REDHAC asked supporters to protest harassment of LGBT people and the lack of police protection by contacting government officials.

REDHAC’s press release is below.

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URGENT APPEAL

Douala March 7, 2014: EXTORTION, AGGRESSION AND BLACKMAIL TO SIMON BIATCH DEFENDER OF CAMEROON ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (ALTERNATIVE-CAMEROON) BY MR NDELO AROLD ALIAS NICKY HOUSEHOLD.

For several months members of the LGBTI community are living in a period of serious assault, intimidation, extortion on the part of the population, and cases of arbitrary arrest in Cameroon.

The facts:
On 27 February 2014, Mr. Simon Biatch made the acquaintance of a young Cameroonians in a dating site. After obtaining the appointment, at 11 pm they met in the neighborhood of Mr. Simon Biatch located at the Cite-Cicam Douala.

At their meeting Mr. Simon Biatch immediately recognized Mr. Ndelo Arold alias Nicky Ménage of the scammer’s band rampant in the city. Threatening him, he begged to have stopped attacking people and asked for  transport fair, not having it Mr. Simon Biatch apologized for a minute to go and get it at his home without imaging that he was followed by Mr. Ndelo Arold who started blackmailing him that he is going to alert the neighborhood that they are a gay couple.

In exchange for his silence, he asked to take Mr. Simon Biatch’s devices (Laptop, DVD, and mobile). Once released from M. Simon Biatch’s home, he was held in order to furnish the equipments, and it is at this moment that Mr. Ndelo Arold said to the population that he had a sexual relationship with Mr. Simon Biatch.

The crowd came out and believed him, during this time he escaped on a motorcycle, Mr. Simon Biatch nearly got himself beaten and was saved by a young Gentleman of the crowd who asked money in exchange to save his life, Mr. Simon Biatch was accompanied at his home by the young man who asked him to leave the neighborhood because he is a “fagot” and that they will burn him if the see him near the neighborhood again.

At the moment, for fear of seeing the population of his neighborhood come to his home, Mr. Simon Biatch left his home around 4am to find refuge to a friend’s place.
As a result,

The Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa (REDHAC):
–    Rejects the way gays and gay advocates are treated in Cameroon;
–    Condemns the rise of homophobia in Cameroon.

REDHAC asks Cameroonian Authorities for:
–    An end to allegations of Ominous to enjoy and take several Cameroonian citizens in prisons and prevent those who want to fight for the respect of LGBTI rights in Cameroon;
–    To comply with Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which states that “Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the charter without distinction of any kind such as rare, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status.”

Finally, the Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa (REDHAC):
–    Expresses grave concern and fear about threats to the defenders of LGBTI (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex) in general;
–    Recommends more protection for vulnerable people and sexual minorities.

For urgent actions, please contact:

  • Prime Minister Philémon YANG — Telephone: (+237) 22 23 92 54 / 22 23 57 60 / 22 23 57 50 / 22 21 00 42. Fax: (+237) 22 23 57 65.
  • Defense Minister Edgar Alain MEBE NGO’O — Telephone:  + 237 22 22 15 24.  Fax: + 237 22 23 59 71.
  • Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Laurent ESSO — Telephone: (+237) 22 23 55 5. Fax: (+237) 22 23 55 59.
  • General Secretary of The Presidency of the Republic Ferdinand NGOH NGOH — Telephone: (+237)  22 20 04 55. Fax : (+237) 22 22 08 70.
  • Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization SADI René Emmanuel — Telephone: (+237) 22 23 10 56. Fax: (+237) 22 22 63 32.
  • General Delegate of National Security Martin MBARGA NGUELE — Telephone: (+237) 22 20 30 93 / 22 20 22 80. Fax : (+237) 22 21 00 69
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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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