In December last year, five rebel groups from Northern CAR came together to form the über-rebel group Seleka (meaning “the alliance” in Sango, the national language of CAR) and began rapidly taking over towns in north and central CAR (Photo Credit: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images).
By Natalia Taylor Bowdoin, AIUSA’s Central African Republic (CAR) Country Specialist
While the world recently celebrated when Bosco Ntaganda turned himself into the U.S. Embassy in Kigali and asked to be delivered to the International Criminal Court, a precarious human rights and humanitarian tragedy was unfolding in another little known corner of Central Africa, the Central African Republic (CAR). On Sunday, the rebel group, Seleka, succeeded in toppling the CAR government, sending the president, François Bozizé, into exile and the citizens of the country into crisis yet again.
CAR watchers were hardly surprised by this turn of events. Bozizé himself came to power through a coup in March 2003, ousting then-president Ange-Félix Patassé with the help of his Chadian friends. Shortly after coming to power however, many of his Chadian helpers became disgruntled. They and former supporters of Patassé split from the government, and along with other disparate elements in northern CAR, began to take to arms and form rebel groups. These rebels groups alternated between terrorizing, harassing and occasionally offering protection to local populations in exchange for loyalty and at great cost. The majority of the rebel groups agreed to come to peace talks in 2007 and 2008 with the Bozizé government and together they ironed out a path forward. Unfortunately, that path didn’t hold for long.
After all the solidarity actions and appeals you sent on behalf of Jean-Claude Roger Mbede and others imprisoned in Cameroon under the discriminatory Section 347a of the penal code, which criminalizes homosexuality, Jean-Claude Roger Mbede and other men serving similar sentences in the same prison sent us a letter saying:
“…your support represents hope, for LGBT people in Cameroon in general, and for us in prison in particular.
The hope to one day leave this prison that we’ve been thrown in, but also the hope that one day LGBT people will be able to walk fully free in Cameroon, holding their heads high, without any humiliation.”
Since we last asked you to take action on his case, we’ve learned that Jean-Claude’s next appeal hearing, which has been pushed back several times over the last few months, is now planned for April 16th. Unfortunately, his request for provisional release (while awaiting appeal) was rejected on March 19th by the Court of Appeal.
The situation in Cameroon continues to be dangerous for LGBT people, or those perceived as such. Since Amnesty began working on Jean-Claude’s case, at least two more men have been sentenced to prison terms for “homosexual acts” in Cameroon. We can’t let this discrimination continue.
Jean-Claude is scheduled to have an appeal hearing on Monday, March 5th, and we’re taking action—delivering petitions and reminding the president about all the appeals he’s already received—to make sure he hears these three things loud and clear: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
A quick glance at Wikipedia or this ILGA report is enough to tell you that there are a LOT of countries where it’s dangerous or deadly to be (or even to be perceived as) lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
There are still more than 80 countries with sodomy laws, and punishment can include flogging, imprisonment, and in about a dozen jurisdictions, the death penalty. Those suspected of being LGBT are also routinely the victims of harassment, discrimination and violence. Many of those who speak up for LGBT rights – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – are themselves persecuted with impunity.
Here are 7 countries Amnesty International has recently had particular concerns about:
Fall is my favorite time of year: the air is cooler, the leaves are pretty, Amnesty International student groups are back together again, and people start signing up for the Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon.
In this—the world’s largest human rights event—we use letters, cards and more to demand the human rights of individuals are respected, protected and fulfilled. We show solidarity with those suffering abuses and work to improve people’s lives.
All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, enjoy the full range of human rights, without exception. But all too often across the globe LGBT people are targets of discrimination and horrific acts of violence.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity continually leads to abuse in the form of violence, imprisonment, torture, or even execution. These methods of persecution, which include criminalization in many places, violate the human rights of LGBT people.