Remember that name… Eric Ohena Lembembe.
Last evening was the first I heard the name. We were guests at a neighbor’s home to learn about The Advocates for Human Rights. We were duly impressed by all we heard.
The Advocates is a Minnesota based network that investigates and exposes human rights violations, represents immigrants and refugees seeking asylum, trains and assists groups that protect human rights, and uses research, education and advocacy to engage the public and policy-makers in human rights work. I encourage you to check-out their website [here].
Eric Ohena Lembembe was a human rights worker in Cameroon. Somehow international reporting of his torture and murder in July 2013 escaped my attention or failed to register in my memory. Imagine… the courageous and tragic story of Eric Ohena Lembembe was retold and honored in a neighborhood gathering last evening in south Minneapolis.
Mr. Lembembe was a well-known gay rights activist, who led an organization which campaigned for people with AIDS in the central African country. Under Cameroon law homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. His killing followed several attacks on the offices of human rights defenders in Cameroon, including those working for gay rights.
In his last blog post before he died, Lembembe – who had recently contributed to a 55-page report on prosecutions of gay people in Cameroon – described attacks on gay and lesbian groups, and criticized the lack of action by the authorities to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.
The Advocates actively collaborated with Mr. Lembembe. Last evening friends spoke of him on a first-name basis. To this day police have failed to investigate his murder. Though his body was found in his home with his feet broken and his face, hands and feet burned, the cause of death on his official death-certificate remains blank.
A representative of Human Rights Watch has aptly observed: “It’s extremely ironic and really sad that Eric seems to have been killed by the same violence he was speaking out against.” Again, we are reminded of a recurring, tragic pattern of our lives.
Last evening, at the home of neighbors right here in south Minneapolis, I had my Easer faith confirmed… He who has died, LIVES!
Eric Ohena Lembembe, we remember!
I have relied on The Guardian and their July 2013 [report] on Mr. Lembembe’s death.