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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: St. Paul's Foundation condemns murder of HIV activist Eric Lembembe of Cameroon

St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation is deeply shocked by the brutal murder of Eric Lembembe in Cameroon over the weekend. We extend our condolences to his family and friends and call upon the religious and political authorities to condemn his murder and to call for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBT people and their allies. Eric was supposed to attend the International AIDS Conference last year representing Cameroon and sponsored by several USA organizations. He was an excellent reporter, AIDS activist and practicing Roman Catholic. He was martyred for his belief in the dignity and sanctity of all human life and the perpetrators of this evil crime need to be found and their motives exposed and condemned.

Eric like so many others had difficulty obtaining visas and passports to come to the International AIDS Conference last year and we urge European and American government missions to ensure their staff are trained and sensitized in the difficult role faced by HIV and LGBT activists globally and they are given protection and security with easier access to embassies and countries who publically support LGBT rights. Many in-country staff employed by other countries who support LGBT rights continue to share in the misinformation and homophobia that made Eric’s life so difficult and without training and sensitization, will not be good ambassadors of our country’s values and concerns. He expressed concerns to us about his safety on numerous occasions and was looking to have some respite outside the USA with our assistance. It is important for activists like Eric to have a network of allies where they can provide resources and support for international exchanges and respite. We need more resources to provide this lifeline.

Eric had worked on several important human rights stories this past year with our colleague Colin Stewart and was recently published in Colin’s book “From Wrongs to Gay Rights.” His courageous articles can be read HERE.

We call upon the Cameroon government to conduct a full and transparent investigation in collaboration with the international community. This brutal murder is as significant as the murder of David Kato in Uganda and deserves the same public outcry.

May Eric’s soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.

The Rev. Canon Albert J. Ogle
President, St. Paul's Foundation for International Reconciliation
San Diego CA 92103