Cameroon police raid anti-AIDS rights meeting



Police in Cameroon on Wednesday, March 28, broke up a planned three-day meeting on AIDS and the human rights of sexual minorities, Africa Review and the French-language daily Le Jour reported.

The event was organized by the Association of Adolescents Against HIV/AIDS, or Sid’Ado.

Twenty armed policemen raided the session at the Mansel Hotel in Yaounde, news reports said. A government official, Martin Locko Motassi, told the gathering that he had authorized a meeting about people with HIV/AIDS, but the actual focus of the session was different from that.

“The banners I see here now are talking of a seminar on the rights of sexual minorities. We don’t accept that here, so you go and do it elsewhere,” Motassi reportedly said, ordering police to take down the banners.

Stéphane Koche, the president of Sid’Ado, was reportedly removed by police after arguing with Motassi.

Lisa Paterson, a representative of the American Embassy in Yaounde, attended the meeting, which she said was aimed at educating vulnerable persons on their rights. The raid was a violation of human rights, she said.

Similar disruptions of meetings focused on AIDS prevention and LGBT rights have occurred recently in Kenya and Uganda.

In Kenya on Feb. 23, a mob broke up an HIV-prevention training meeting in Mombasa, Gay Star News and Africa Review reported.

In Uganda on Feb. 14, a workshop for gay activists in Entebbe was raided by police and a Ugandan cabinet minister, the BBC and Amnesty International reported.

Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo said the Entebbe gathering was illegal. He ordered the arrest of workshop participant and LGBT rights activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, who reportedly then fled.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, called the Ugandan raid “an outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda.”

Homosexual behavior is illegal in Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda and 73 other countries worldwide.

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