Raid targeted disorder, not gays, Cameroon police say

By Erin Royal Brokovitch
Photo published by Camer.be with an article about the Essos neighborhood of Yaoundé entitled “Yaoundé, like Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Photo published by Camer.be with an article about the Essos neighborhood of Yaoundé entitled “Yaoundé, like Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Last weekend’s police raid at the Mistral bar in Yaoundé, Cameroon,  ended with the release of everyone who had been arrested.

Police said it was not an anti-gay operation, although the violence of the late-night Oct. 9 raid had seemed to suggest that it was, especially because Cameroon is a country where homosexual activity remains a crime and LGBTI people are shunned, or worse.  But everyone whom police took to the 4th district station at 3 a.m. Sunday was released by about 1 p.m.

LGBTI rights activists who had been alerted to the incident went to the police station and were reassured by the officer handling the case that there was no problem. He said that raid was aimed at public disturbances.

Cameroon will host the women's football matches of the Africa Cup in Yaoundé and Limbé from Nov. 19 to Dec. (Photo courtesy of Camer-sports.be)
Cameroon will host the women’s football matches of the Africa Cup in Yaoundé and Limbé from Nov. 19 to Dec. (Photo courtesy of Camer-sports.be)

That possibility was mentioned in this blog’s first article about the raid. (“Also unclear is … whether the raid was an anti-gay operation or merely an attempt to impose order on a rowdy part of the city’s nightlife.” — Oct. 9, 2016)

Police warned that such raids will continue through January, in particular to maintain order during upcoming months while Cameroon hosts for the Africa Cup for women’s football. Those matches will be played in Yaoundé and Limbe.

Yaoundé residents say that police raids have been common recently in the capital, including public places such as Kennedy avenue and the central market, where expatriates were ensnared in a police operation a few weeks ago.

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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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