Abdelaziz has been in Guider prison in northern Cameroon since 2015, sentenced to six years of imprisonment because of his sexual orientation.
Cameroon: 6 years in prison because of his sexual orientation
By Steeves Winner
Abdelaziz is a convict at Guider prison in Muslim-majority northern Cameroon, serving a six-year sentence for homosexuality.
Tall, forthright and effeminate, Abdelaziz is 28 years old and very thin — apparently malnourished because prison food is scanty and foul.
Before his arrest in 2015, he lived in a rented apartment and sold electronic devices in Guider city.
Until then, his sexual orientation had never caused a problem despite his effeminate appearance. He is a devout Muslim and most people had no idea that he was attracted to men.
Abdelaziz describes his relationship with 25-year-old Ibrahim and what it led to:
It started without our realizing it. We began dating and then we let ourselves be carried away. We were happy.
We met at a hotel for privacy and to avoid suspicious looks. All went well for a while. But then the hotel receptionist became curious, started keeping track of our visits and then called the police. We did not know that was happening. We suspected nothing.
In the afternoon of June 24, 2015, police officers knocked at the door of our hotel room. Panicked, we looked for a way to escape but did not find one. The police beat us up and then arrested us as criminals.
They held us in police cells for four days. We called family members. We wrote letters to them. No one came to see us.
We were handed over to the prosecutor and put on trial for homosexuality.
Attorney Tchoua Nana Viviane Nana represented us pro bono. We also were supported by the gay advocacy association Jeunes Solidaires de Garoua. But no one could figure out how we could be freed. We didn’t have enough money to pay a bribe, which could have saved us.
We were convicted, sentenced to six years and sent to the Guider prison.
For three years now, our life in prison has been dismal. In prison we are stigmatized, discriminated against, abused and shunned by prison guards and other prisoners. The whole prison knows that we are homosexuals.
Our families have abandoned us. They call us devils.
Our wish is that we will emerge safe and sound from this hell. Then we hope to start our life again in another country, far away from this society that judges us and wants to see us dead.
How to help
Please contribute to the Pas Seul / Not Alone project, which will provide food for Abdelaziz and two other men who are in northern Cameroon jails solely because of whom they love.
Our request to you is to help us raise money for the prisoners’ food over the next six months. To do that, please sign up for a modest monthly donation — $5 would be helpful, $10 or more would be better. This can be easily arranged through the DonorBox site, where donors keep control and can cancel at any point. Of course, we will accept one-time donations (via Facebook, PayPal or check) if you prefer to contribute in that way.