Yesterday the Foreign Minister of Uganda Sam Kutesa arrived in Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013. Meanwhile a vicious crackdown got underway back home.
As Kutesa was settling into his Colombo hotel, Sam Ganafa, chair of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was being arrested and detained by Ugandan police.
Other activists are being sought on charges of conducting an illegal gathering, not disclosing their HIV/AIDS status to their sexual partners, sodomy and being in possession of pornographic materials, according to a police source. The GEHO Facebook page advises:
There is a new wave to crack down on the growing movement of the LGBTQ in Jinja, Kampala, Mbale, Gulu and Mbarara. The informer states that this is an order from above and the local police can do little to help. He said that the police are seeking alternative means and options to legally hunt us and the operation is running till the 31st of December/13In Jinja, Njeru Police station is handling the files.
Activists are going into hiding and implementing other security measures to protect themselves and the Safe Houses they operate. Emergency hotlines have been set up, and all clients and Members are being urged to delete incriminating evidence on all their electronic devices.
Increasing numbers of LGBTq are fleeing their homes, seeking refuge in the GEHO safe houses, which were already overcrowded and struggling to meet demand. Funds are urgently needed to secure more accommodation, food, water, bedding and other essential supplies. If you can spare some dollars to help during this crisis, please, click here to donate.
Meanwhile GEHO is warning all LGBTq in Uganda to look out for their personal safety.
- Hosting, Housing and dating should be done in a more strict manner; otherwise one can easily be blackmailed.
- Stay in the closet for your own safety
- There is an increasing number of people who claim they are Kuchus but they are only interested in getting more information, take your nude picture or film you and then later use that information to blackmail, expose or even for extortion.
• Have an identification card on you at all times and in case you have had a name change, have the ID with your new names, with you at all times.
• Remain calm and don’t resist arrest as this may give chance to police officers to beat you up.
• At the police station, avoid giving any information to, negotiating with or bribing the arresting officer(s), because in this state of panic, you may say something that may be used to incriminate you.
• When at the police station, avoid giving a police statement and don’t sign on anything until your lawyer arrives.
• Request for a phone call to your lawyer: you are entitled to one.
• In case you don’t have a lawyer, call somebody on the LGBTq community GEHO security team/Legal aid or any trusted friend that can get you in contact with lawyers from partners.