Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika

Two human rights activists known for supporting LGBT equality in Malawi have reportedly gone to ground following threats by the country’s president.

According to LGBT Asylum News, Undule Mwakasungula, the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) chairperson, and Gift Trapence, executive director of Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), are in hiding in the wake of last week’s violent police and army crackdown on anti-government protests.

On Thursday, President Bingu wa Mutharika warned the people behind the pro-democracy demonstrations that he will “hunt” them in their homes.

“You will not hide, I will smoke you out… You should go back to your fathers and mothers from the West, who have sent you,” he said, reported the Malawi Voice.

The Treatment Action Campaign has said that Mwakasungula and Trapence are safe and in good spirits.

At least 18 people were killed in riots in Malawi last week as they expressed opposition to the authoritarian government and its failed financial policies.

Malawian government officials have in part blamed the unrest and growing foreign pressure for reform on international lobbying by LGBTI and human rights groups, labelling them “unpatriotic”.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi and in February President Bingu Wa Mutharika signed a bill into law adding lesbianism to the already criminalised act of sex between men. Those found guilty face prison sentences of up to 14 years.

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