Eric Ohena Lembembe

Instead of focusing on solving the horrific murder of gay activist Eric Ohena Lembembe, the Cameroonian government has instead criticised the media for its “provocative commentary”.

The brutalised and broken body of Lembembe, an outspoken LGBTI activist and journalist, was found by friends in his home in Yaound� last week.

Witnesses said that his neck and feet appeared to have been broken, and his face, hands, and feet had been burned with an iron.

In response, government spokesperson Issa Tchiroma accused journalists in a statement of “speculation and witch-hunting”.

“Backed by certain civil society activists and at times by some of our compatriots, the international media have launched attacks on our nation, dragging its image into the mud,” he said.

He added that “any interference or untruthfulness of any nature and origin” with regard to the investigation of the case “can be considered a violation of judicial secrecy or provocative commentary, which is against the law”.

British LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell described Lembembe as “a courageous public champion of the rights of LGBT people and people with HIV.”

He called on the Commonwealth to suspend Cameroon over its anti-gay policies, which have seen at least 28 people persecuted on homosexuality charges since 2010.

“It’s anti-gay witch-hunt violates Commonwealth values and the Commonwealth Charter. The Commonwealth Secretary General must end his silence and speak out publicly against homophobic persecution in Cameroon. President Paul Biya should also publicly condemn the killing and halt the state-sponsored victimisation of LGBT people,” said Tatchell.

Meanwhile, activists and friends of Lembembe have asked for contributions towards the costs of his funeral, which is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 27.

“Lembembe came from a poor family in Yaound�, Cameroon, who cannot afford the expenses of a large funeral,” wrote Colin Stewart on the blog Erasing 76 Crimes, to which the young man had contributed.

“His friends and colleagues hope to raise $5,200 (2,600,000 CFA francs; 4,000 euros; 3,400 pounds) to cover the costs of the coffin, hearse, grave site and grave maintenance, grave clothes and morgue expenses, plus rental of tent and chairs for mourners,” Stewart added.

Click here for details on how you can contribute towards Lembembe’s funeral.

Consensual same-sex conduct is criminalised under the Cameroonian penal code, punishable by up to five years in prison.

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