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Plea for action against Congo machete attack, rapes, arson

LGBTI+ people in the eastern Congo remain at risk of murder and rape.

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Aerial view of Bukavu in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Aerial view of Bukavu in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

LGBTI+ people in the eastern Congo, who remain at risk of murder and rape, have been victimized in a recent videotaped machete attack, three rapes, arson, one “corrective rape” and a suicide. LGBTI+ advocacy group Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko (RSM) works to help the victims of such abuse.

Jérémie Safari, the group’s executive director, also appeals for an end to the silence from international LGBTI+ organizations about those abuses in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), in the Bukavu and Uvira regions of South Kivu.

These are the latest homophobic incidents that his organization is dealing with, which have largely been ignored by international human rights defenders:

Assault and murder threat in Bukavu

A video of extreme violence showing a man being attacked with a machete  is circulating on social networks.

It shows a young man named Eustache (pseudonym) who was ambushed at 8 p.m. March 6 while he was leaving a store in Bukavu where he bought candles that he needed because of power cuts.

Some young people from his neighborhood who had previously threatened him renewed their intimidation, surrounded him and ordered him to  change his sexual orientation or face decapitation. The video shows him being hit numerous times in the thigh and the face with the side of a machete blade.

Eustache survived the attack and was admitted to hospital at around 10 p.m. on the day of the attack. His face was swollen and bloody. (A disturbing photo shows Eustache after the attack.) He is still in the hospital.

The video was made by a bisexual member of the local LGBTI+ community, using his. No one intervened to help Eustace at the time of the attack.

‘Corrective rape’ and suicide of a transgender man in Walungu

Logo of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Logo of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

On Wednesday, April 5, a transgender man called Cyril (pseudonym) was found hanged in his home after having undergone a “corrective rape” on Sunday, April 2.  The deluded motive for such rapes is to turn lesbians or trans men straight.

Members of Cyril’s family considered him a woman and wanted to force him by marry a man. His brothers also wanted to force Cyril to have sexual relations with men, believing that in the process he would learn to know heterosexual pleasure.

The brothers ordered the “corrective rape”. One of them was apprehended by police because Cyril, before taking his own life, denounced the actions of his relatives in a letter that was discovered posthumously.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was informed of the incident and pushed to reveal the circumstances of Cyril’s tragic death.

Cyril’s body was buried on April 9, Easter Day.


Five LGBTI people prevented from registering to vote, then molested and raped

Logo of Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko

Logo of Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko

DR Congo does not criminalize homosexuality or trans identity, but LGBTI+ people are repeatedly victimized.  Five LGBTI people were targeted last month in connection with  presidential and legislative elections that are scheduled for the end of the year. The registration process for future voters has been under way since March.

Serious irregularities were noted in the locality of Baraka on March 26, including against three transgender women and two lesbians accompanied by Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko.

The agents who register voters accused them, among other things, of wanting to promote homosexuality and of going against custom and tradition. As a result, the five LGBTI would-be voters will not be able to take part in elections and will be illegally deprived of the exercise of their citizenship.

Two days later, the neighborhood chief and two police officers, in league with young thugs, forced them to flee. The three transgender women were molested, while the lesbian couple who lived next to them were raped. All of their belongings were looted and then their house was burned to the ground. All are suffering psychological damage.

Currently, the three transgender women are in Bukavu, hosted by a member of the RSM network, awaiting a possible evacuation to Burundi. There, it is believed, they will not be recognized and may be able to resume more normal lives.

You can write to Jérémie Safari by clicking on this link.

You can support Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko by making a donation here.