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Day 29: Eric Ohena Lemembe

Photo from CBC News

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions violence, brutality, torture, a beating, alledged homophobic hate attack, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


The day passed just like any other in the city of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. It was the 12th of July, 2013 and the people of the city went about their day. They all got up at the beginning of the day when the run rose up in the sky, had breakfast, went to work or school, had a lunch break before continuing then made their way home for dinner.

One man was relaxing in his home in the living room. He had eaten a little while ago so his belly was full. After a long day at work he wanted nothing more than to relax for the rest of the night so that was what he was going to do. He plopped himself on the couch and turned on the TV. There wasn’t anything in particular that he wanted to watch but he was sure that if he kept looking through the channels he was bound to find something he would think was interesting.

As he flipped through the channels, a small group of men approached his home. They made sure to dress and act like they were just on a normal walk in the streets despite the late hour. It wasn’t uncommon to see people out and about at dusk but to have a group out together was a little less common. It wasn’t enough to cause suspicion but the men weren’t about to take any chances. They had to be careful because they had a plan. A plan that they knew was wrong both morally and legally but they didn’t care. They were determined to see it through no matter what.

They felt that their target had to be punished for what he was doing. In their minds, he was doing something wrong and that it went against God’s rules for humanity. This was an unforgivable crime so their target had to be taught a lesson.

They walked up to the apartment and peered inside one of the windows. When they saw that the household occupant was focused on the TV they all smirked. This was their chance. They had to act right away while their target was still distracted.

Quickly, the group of men made their way to the front door where one of them got to work picking the lock. He worked as quietly as he possibly could but wasn’t too worried as the TV would provide enough cover for him. It was fairly loud so any clicks from the lock wouldn’t have been audible to the house’s occupant.

When the door was unlocked, the men kicked it open and charged inside. The man who was sitting on his couch jumped at the sudden sound. He scrambled to his feet just as the group of men barged into his living room. He was so shocked that he could barely say anything. He wanted to ask the men how they got in, why they were there and who they were but he never got a chance.

The moment the men laid eyes on the frightened man, the one who was appointed leader pointed at their target and told his group to get the man. They did as they were told and forced his arms behind his back then tired them together. He tried to fight them but they had the element of surprise on their side and they outnumbered him. He stood no chance.

After a failed attempt of breaking free, the man looked up at the leader and tried to ask what was going on but before he could speak, one of the men holding him punched him right on the jaw. He cried out in pain and looked down at the floor. He was scared of what they were going to do to him.

He had an idea of why they might have sought him out. He didn’t want to believe it but it was the only possible explanation. The only reason that made sense as to why they would have broken into his house and tied him up. People like the man were no stranger to violence but this was different… The man was afraid that this time he wouldn’t make it out alive and if he did, he might have been left permanently disfigured.

He didn’t dare look up at the men now. They didn’t hesitate to hit him for trying to speak. It was best that he didn’t say anything. If he wanted to make it out alive, no matter how slim that chance may be he had to remain quiet and do as the men said. Maybe, just maybe he would live to tell his story.

As scared as he was, the man didn’t struggle when the men hauled him to his feet and forced him out of the room. At first he thought that they were leading him out of the building and to a car but to his surprise, they didn’t. Instead of leaving the building, the men forced the frightened man out of the living room and down the hallway to his own bedroom.

They all made their way into the room where the man was thrown to the ground. He grunted when he landed and his first instinct was to try and get up but one of the men put his foot on his back and forced him back down. The man didn’t fight it. He accepted it. He thought that if he didn’t give these men a reaction then they would get bored of him and eventually leave. He hoped that would be the case. He prayed it was.

He did his best not to give the men any reactions even when they punched and kicked him. No matter what they did or said, he did his best to keep a neutral face but it was quite difficult. The men used more and more force in their kicks and kicked him all over. No place on his body was safe from the constant attacks. Tears rolled down his cheeks when the pain became unbearable but still he barely showed any reaction. It was hard but somehow he managed to suppress his reactions. He winced when a kick was so strong that it felt like it broke a bone. He could feel that his body was covered in bruises.

He breathed deeply in an attempt to calm down. He did his best to focus on anything other than the attack. He thought about the happy moments in his life. He thought about his friends and family and all of the good times they had together. The thought of possibly seeing his loved ones again kept his going.. He would endure this if it meant that he could see them after.

After some time, his tormentors grew tired. They weren’t getting the reaction they were hoping for and that wasn’t any fun. They hadn’t come there just to torture him. They were hoping to have some fun with it but what fun was it if their target didn’t scream or try to get away.

The leader brought this up to his companions and one of them had a solution to their problem. He told the leader that he would be right back before leaving the room. The group of men didn’t know what he was planning but let him be while they resumed the torture of their captive.

They decided to change things up. Two men grabbed the injured man and hoisted him up on his bed. Now they had an easier time punching him. They laughed amongst each other when he flinched or when more tears fell from his eyes.

To them, this man wasn’t human. He was different from them and was a big supporter of others just like him. They all thought that it was messed up. He shouldn’t have a place in the world if he was just going to spread and encourage the perversion. It wasn’t right and they wanted him to know that. They wanted everyone he associated with to know that what they were doing was wrong and that they could go to hell for it if they wanted but they shouldn’t be encouraging others down their path.

When the man came back to the room, this group noticed that he was holding something. It was an iron. The man held it up and smirked. He told the group that it had been charged up as it was cordless and he had just filled it up. His group all let out small cheers and said how this would definitely get them the reaction they were looking for.

They stepped aside and let the man walk up to their victim. He was still lying on his bed and he was covered from head to toe with injuries. His face was soaked in tears and he was in so much pain that even breathing hurt. By now he just wanted it all to end. He didn’t care if he was killed. He just wanted the pain to end. He tried his best to hold out but he had reached his breaking point. When he saw the iron and heard it click as it was turned on he began to panic.

He tried to scoot away when the man approached but he was too injured. He didn’t even move an inch before the other man grabbed him and pressed the now hot iron into his flesh. Now the man began to scream. He thought the pain couldn’t get any worse but he was proven wrong. He continued to scream as the iron was applied to other parts of his body but the worst was his face.

He tried to shove the man off but his companions held the man down. They all laughed. Since they didn’t see him as a human they had no trouble doing these horrific things. In their minds, they were doing nothing wrong but they knew the law said otherwise. However, they also knew that the law would most likely side with them once the truth of who the man was got out. Even if they did get caught, they felt confident that nothing would happen to them.

After many burns, kicks and beatings, the man grew too weak to scream anymore. His throat was sore and his body was weak. He had cried until no more tears formed. Now the men felt like they had enough. It was time they wrapped it up and got going. The last thing they wanted was to be caught. They had stayed there long enough. They didn’t want to risk someone walking in on them if the man lived with someone or was expecting visitors.

Before they departed, they had to finish off the man first. One man took out a hammer that he had brought with him and used it to hit the man’s feet. He cried out again but it was weak. He had been through so much and was in so much pain that he was barely even able to whimper at this point. The man whacked him a few more times with the hammer before another grabbed the man’s head and turned it to the side suddenly. All of the men heard a loud crack and knew that his neck was broken. He died instantly.

His name was Eric Ohena Lemembe and he was only 33 years old.

AFTERMATH

On the 15th of July, 2013 friends of Eric went to his apartment to check on him after not being able to get in touch for two days. When they arrived they saw a padlock on his front door. One of the friends looked in the window and could see the body of Eric inside. They quickly called the police to report the crime scene.

Unfortunately, the investigators didn’t do their jobs properly as no photos or fingerprints were taken at the crime scene and even the medical certificate left out many of the injuries that covered Eric’s body.

The case was originally assigned to the police from the 1st district of Yaoundé but was then passed to the National Security Central Administration. Eventually the case was presented to an investigating judge. About a year after the crime took place, the judge summoned Eric’s mother, sister and brother. His family had been what can only be described as intimidation by the police and some of them were even arrested at the start of the investigation.

No motive has been determined but those who knew Eric say that it was a homophobic attack which the authorities fail to see. By doing so, they are showing others that they can carry out homophobic hate crimes and get away with it which is the wrong message. Neela Ghoshal from Human Rights Watch has said that “the police should not rest until the perpetrators of this horrific crime are brought to justice. President Biya should break his silence on the wave of homophobic violence in Cameroon and publicly condemn this brutal attack”.

Friends of Eric suspect that his murder was done by someone who wanted to kill the LGBTQ+ movement. The year after Eric’s murder, LGBTQ+ activists in Cameroon were the victims of death threats. They filed police reports but it never went further than that. There were no interrogations of arrests.

Neela Ghoshal has said that while she doesn’t know if Eric’s murder will ever be solved but that even if someone kills an activist, they can’t kill the movement for freedom and equality.

“Eric’s legacy will live on. One day, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people will live free and equal in Cameroon.” - Neela Ghoshal, Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program.

IN LIFE

Eric Ohena Lemebre was one of the most prominent and outspoken activists for the LGBTQ+ community in Cameroon, one of the most hostile countries in Africa for the LGBTQ+ community.

He worked as a journalist and executive director of a human rights organization called Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS). This organization’s mission was to defend the rights for the LGBTQ+ community and people who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Eric would document the mistreatment gay people suffered in Cameroon. He wrote about the violence they faced, the blackmail they received and their arrests.

On the behalf of CAMFAIDS, Eric collaborated with Human Rights Watch along with two Cameroonian organizations called Alternatives-Cameroun and Association for the Defense of Homosexuals (ADEFHO).

In March of 2013, he helped with researching for and launching a report that talked about prosecutions of consensual sex between homosexuals.

In May of 2013 he participated in drafting a submission for Cameroon’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

He was a regular contributor to a site called Erasing 76 Crimes which focused on anti-gay laws from around the world.

He also worked alongside Colin Stewart, Miles Tanhira, Andy Kopsa, Rachel Adams, Clare Byarugaba, and Albert Ogle on a book titled “From Wrongs to Gay Rights: Cruelty and change for LGBT people in an uncertain world”. He wrote several chapters and the book talks about struggles that the LGBTQ+ community faces in countries where their sexuality is still criminalized.

“Eric was an inspiring activist whose work was deeply appreciated by human rights activists in Cameroon and around the world. Advocating for equal rights in Cameroon, where LGBTI people face severe discrimination and violence, takes tremendous courage. Eric’s activism paved the way for a society based on equality and nondiscrimination.” - Neela Ghoshal, Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. An Assault on a Movement: The Killing of Eric Lembembe”. Damian Ugwu. Huffington Post, 22 August 2013, updated 2 February 2016, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/an-assault-on-a-movement_b_3792598?utm_hp_ref=email_share.

  2. CAMEROON: Assassination of Eric Ohena Lembembe, the investigation remains at a standstill”. Human Rights Defenders. International Federation for Human Rights, 11 July 2014, https://www.fidh.org/en/region/Africa/cameroon/15738-cameroon-assassination-of-eric-ohena-lembembe-the-investigation-remains-at.

  3. Cameroon gay rights activist found tortured and killed”. Afua Hirsch. The Guardian, 18 July 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/18/cameroon-gay-rights-activist-killed.

  4. Cameroon: LGBTI Rights Activist Found Dead, Tortured”. Human Rights Watch, 16 July 2013, https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/07/16/cameroon-lgbti-rights-activist-found-dead-tortured.

  5. Cameroon must investigate gay rights activist killing - groups”. Reuters, 19 July 2013, https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-cameroon-activist/cameroon-must-investigate-gay-rights-activist-killing-groups-idUKBRE96I0OG20130719.

  6. Cameroonian LGBT rights advocate murdered”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 16 July 2013, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/07/16/cameroonian-lgbt-rights-advocate-murdered/.

  7. Cameroon's Eric Lembembe: Gay rights activist 'murdered'”. BBC News, 16 July 2013, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-23331832.

  8. Couragous Camaroonian Activist Killed Following Months of Anti-Gay Attacks”. Joe Mirabella. Huffington Post, 17 July 2013, updated 2 February 2016, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/eric-ohena-lembembe-killed_b_3608052.

  9. Eric Ohena Lembembe”. Human Rights Defenders Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/hrdrecord/eric-ohena-lembembe/.

  10. Gay activist tortured, killed in Cameroon”. Joe Morgan. Gay Star News, 16 July 2013, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-activist-tortured-killed-cameroon160713/.

  11. Gay Rights Activist Killed in Cameroon”. Jase Peeples. Advocate, 16 July 2013, https://www.advocate.com/crime/2013/07/16/gay-rights-activist-killed-cameroon.

  12. Processing the Murder of Eric Ohena Lembembe”. Neela Ghoshal. Human Rights Watch, 17 July 2013, https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/07/17/processing-murder-eric-ohena-lembembe.

  13. Prominent Gay Rights Activist Tortured And Killed In Cameroon”. CBC News, 17 July 2013, https://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/prominent-gay-rights-activist-tortured-and-killed-in-cameroon.html.

  14. Prominent gay rights activist tortured, killed in Cameroon”. Dan Littauer. LGBTQ Nation, 16 July 2013, https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/07/prominent-gay-rights-activist-tortured-killed-in-cameroon/.

Image

  1. Eric Ohena Lembembe. CBC News, https://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/prominent-gay-rights-activist-tortured-and-killed-in-cameroon.html.

Day 28: Sherlyn Montoya

Photo from Dosmanzanas.com

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, violence, brutality, beating, torture, alledged homophobic hate crime, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story was written on the 28th of June, 2020 and so far no arrests have been made in connection to the case. This story will be updated if and when new information on the case is published.

It was late at night on the 2nd of April, 2017 in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Most people were at home and getting ready for bed if they weren’t asleep already. It was the end of the weekend. Everyone wanted to get a full night’s rest for the next day. Mondays were hard for many people, especially teenagers and young adults who just wanted to spend their nights with friends.

Late that night, a young woman was on her way home from a long night. She had just finished a drag show in which she was a performer and she had a great time. She had spent her night surrounded by friends and a supportive community. Living in a country where the LGBTQ+ community was looked down upon and violence was common, it was nice to be with people who not only accepted you but who were just like you. The young woman had found a home there and life was looking good for her.

On her way home, she stopped off at a gas station. It was on the way and she needed to pick some things up and fill up the gas of the family car. She parked the car in the parking lot then got her purse and went into the gas station. She picked up a few groceries that she and her family really needed for the next day that she had completely forgotten to pick up earlier that day before her show.

When she got what she needed she went to the cash and paid for everything she had. She bought the gas and filled up the car. While she waited for the tank to fill up, she put the bags of groceries in the back seat of the car. When the tank was full, the young woman got ready to get in her car but a noise behind her stopped her in her tracks.

She turned around to see what had caused the mysterious noise and came face to face with a small group of men. Most of them had serious looks on their faces while some had smirks. Their expressions sent chills down the young woman’s back. It was clear to her that these men had ill intentions. They gave her the creeps and instantly made her feel uncomfortable. As far as she knew, she didn’t know any of the men. They had never met before that night.

She calmly asked them what they wanted and if she could help. The man who appeared to be the leader stared at her for a moment as he pondered the question. It looked like he was making up his mind and deciding on how he was going to respond. After a few moments, he finally spoke. He told the young woman that in fact, she could help them. All she would need to do was to follow them.

Of course, the young woman declined. It was late at night and these men were strangers. She politely declined the men and said that she really had to go home. Her family was expecting her and she was quite tired. The men didn’t like that response so again, they told her to go with them. They promised her that it would be worth her while but again she refused. She tried to be as polite as possible to these men. She couldn’t take any chances with them. One wrong move and they might try to harm her.

When the young woman didn’t seem to give in, the men decided to take matters into their own hands. The leader approached the woman while the others surrounded her to prevent her from leaving. Now she was on high alert. This was serious and she had to be very careful on how she proceeded. She looked up at the leader and asked him what was going on. He simply replied that she was being rude for refusing to go with them. He said that she needed to be taught a lesson.

Her eyes widened in fear. She knew what he was implying. He spoke in a sinister voice with a creepy looking grin on his face. The woman didn’t want any part of that.

She tried to run past him but the other men were quick to line up, shoulder to shoulder which prevented her from escaping. When she tried to get past them, two of the men grabbed her while another put a burlap sack over her head. She tried to scream but she was so surprised from the action that she was unable to let out a loud enough scream for people to hear. She struggled against the men but she was no match for them. She was out numbered and they were stronger than her. No matter how much she fought against them, it was no use.

The men dragged her away from the area to where there wasn’t any light. A good distance away from the gas station was the vehicle the men had arrived in. They had not intended to take this woman or anyone for that matter that night but when they saw her they decided to go for it. They knew that from the moment they saw her, she was different but not in a good way. She was different from others in the community and her kind were not welcome in “their” community. To the men, people like the young woman were not accepted and in their opinion, had no place among them. When they saw the woman, the men decided to show this young woman where her place was.

After shoving her in their car, they drove away to a building that they had designated as their little hide out or meet up spot. It wasn’t too close to other buildings so even if the woman started to scream loudly, no one would have been able to hear her. They hadn’t planned to use the building as a place to take people but it was the perfect spot.

When they arrived, the car stopped and the men got out. They forced the frightened young woman out of the car. The bag was still over her head making it impossible for her to see anything. The men shoved her in the general direction they wanted her to go. She went without hesitation. She had no choice but to do what they wanted her to. They were in control and she was blind. She was at their mercy.

She tried to stay brave but deep down she was terrified. She had no clue where she was or what the men were going to do to her. It was scary. No one said anything except for telling her to keep walking. They did so in a firm and very cold voice. At one point she was sure she could hear one of them chuckle when she stumbled on her way to her destination.

When they reached the room where she was to be held, the men forced her to sit down on a chair where they tied her up. She wanted to fight back against them but fear kept her still. If she resisted them, would they kill her? Turture her? She didn’t want to find out so she complied with every request and demand they made.

The men kept the young woman waiting hours and hours before interacting with her. It started off with just taunting her but when she didn’t give them the reaction they wanted it progressed into kicking then punching. Those started off lightly but eventually grew stronger and stronger the longer the young woman remained silent. The only sounds that came from her were small whimpers which was her reaction to the pain she felt from the kicks and hits. She didn’t speak a single word to her kidnappers out of fear.

Over a day later, the pain was overwhelming. The young woman had been subjected to all sorts of physical pain. The men had surrounded her and all of them took turns beating her. She could hear them laugh the entire time they did this. It was sickening and infuriating. She couldn’t believe that these monsters could be so cruel for seemingly no reason. They hadn’t even alluded to a reason as to why they kidnapped her. Perhaps it was just for their amusement which made them horrible and sick.

Underneath the sack on her head, tears were streaming down her face. She was unbelievably terrified. She just wanted all of this to end. It wouldn’t have mattered if they let her go or killed her. She just wanted the experience to end.

After many hours of the torture, her kindappers finally got tired of her. She wasn’t showing much reaction to the kicking and hitting. They grew tired of her quickly and thought that the best thing to do was to get rid of her.

One of the men left the room and came back with a rope in hand. He looked at the other men in the room and they all nodded. The man with the rope smirked and approached the young woman. She heard his footsteps as he grew closer. She tensed up as she tried to process what was going on. She was afraid to find out.

When the man made his way behind her he very suddenly wrapped the rope around her neck. She tensed up when she felt the rope tighten around her. She coughed and choked. She tried to get as much air as she could but her hands were bound. She couldn't fight back or attempt to loosen the rope. All she could do was sit there and feel the air escape her lungs. It was a terrifying feeling.

The young woman became lightheaded after minutes of strangulation. Eventually her eyes began to close and her head bobbed to the side. Her kidnappers knew she was close to death. The man continued to tighten the rope until she stopped moving then continued to hold it until he no longer saw her chest rise and fall. He held the rope in place until he was sure that she was dead.

Her name was Sherlyn Montoya and she was only 29 years old.

AFTERMATH

The body of Sherlyn Montoya was found two days after she went missing. She had been wrapped in burlap sacks and dumped in an alley located near the gas station where she was last seen.

She was killed by unknown people who are still free. She was working to support her elderly mother and 3 nieces at the time of her death.

Organizations such as The National Network of Human Rights Defenders, the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders and the European Union have asked the country of Honduras to look into the case and arrest those responsible for the brutal murder.

Other groups who have demanded justice are: Asociación LGTB Arcoíris de Honduras, Grupo de Mujeres Transexuales (Muñecas Arcoíris), Grupo Lésbico Bisexual LITOS and Grupo de Hombres Transexuales (Muñecos Arcoíris). All of them are Honduran LGBTQ+ advocacy groups.

As of June 2020, there have been no arrests in this case.

IN LIFE

Sherlyn Montoya was a drag performer and an active activist for the LGBTQ+ community. She was a member of a group called the Asociación LGBT Arcoíris (LGBT Rainbow Association) which focused on advocating issues of trandgender women in Honduras.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. El asesinato de la activista trans Sherlyn Montoya golpea de nuevo a la comunidad LGTB hondureña”. Flick. Dosmanzanas, 13 April 2017, https://www.dosmanzanas.com/2017/04/el-asesinato-de-la-activista-trans-sherlyn-montoya-golpea-de-nuevo-a-la-comunidad-lgtb-hondurena.html.

  2. Hallan muerto con signos de tortura a un travesti en Tegucigalpa”. La Prensa, 4 April 2017, https://www.laprensa.hn/sucesos/1059507-410/hallan-muerto-con-signos-de-tortura-a-un-travesti-en-tegucigalpa.

  3. Honduran Trans Activist Strangled Amid Rising Hate Crimes”. teleSUR, 12 April 2017, https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Honduran-Trans-Activist-Strangled-Amid-Rising-Hate-Crimes-20170412-0027.html.

  4. Killing of LGBTI rights defender Sherlyn Montoya”. Front Line Defenders, 7 April 2017, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-sherlyn-montoya.

  5. “La Diva”a la que le apagaron sus sueños este día en la capital hondureña”. Redaccion Web. Tiempo Digital, 4 April 2017, https://tiempo.hn/sherlyn-montoya-la-diva-que-le-apagaron-sus-suenos-este-dia-en-la-capital-hondurena/.

  6. Asesinan a Sherlyn Montoya, defensora de derechos trans”. Astrolabio, 18 April 2017, https://www.astrolabio.com.mx/asesinan-a-sherlyn-montoya-defensora-de-derechos-trans/.

  7. Trans activist murdered in Honduras”. Ernesto Valle. Washington Blade, 10 April 2017, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/10/trans-activist-murdered-honduras/.

  8. Trans woman strangled to death after drag show in Honduras”. Joe Morgan. Gay Star News, 12 April 2017, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/trans-woman-strangled-death-drag-show-honduras/.

Image

  1. Sherlyn Montoya. Dosmanzanas, https://www.dosmanzanas.com/2017/04/el-asesinato-de-la-activista-trans-sherlyn-montoya-golpea-de-nuevo-a-la-comunidad-lgtb-hondurena.html.

Day 26: René Martínez

Photo from Democratic Underground

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, violence, beating, brutality, strangulation, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This case happened back in 2016 and this article was written in June 2020. So far there haven’t been any arrests in the case.

It was a regular day in the Chamelecón neighbourhood in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. It was nearing the end of the work day for most people while others were getting ready for their shifts if they worked a night shift. It was just a regular day for the residents who thought nothing of it. There were the usual issues with the gangs in the area but the people were so used to it that they hardly registered it anymore. The gangs were just a part of life for them.

One man was just arriving home from work. It had been a long day and all he wanted was to take a nice long shower then relax in front of the TV. He had gotten so much work during the day and there was still so much more that needed to be done. He lived a very busy life but he never complained. In fact, he rather enjoyed it because what he did helped many people in his area and even his country. It was rewarding despite how drained he felt after certain days.

He stepped out of his car then locked it. Just as he was about to take a step towards the house he heard a car racing down the street. He didn’t really think too much about it. Gang members were known to speed down streets or it could have just been some crazy, out of control young adults. Whoever they were pulled up quickly to his driveway. Their vehicle screeched to a halt and two doors slammed open.

The man heard the commotion behind him and turned around to see what was going on. He didn’t have time to process anything. As soon as he turned, two people wearing masks grabbed him by the arms and began to drag him to the car. He called out to them and asked them what was going on and what was the meaning of this. Why were they doing this to him? What he had done to gain their attention? He got no answer from any of them. They simply forced him into the backseat and slammed the doors behind them.

Even before the doors clicked into place the vehicle speed off down the road. The man who had been taken was in such shock that he didn’t even have any words. He just sat there with wide eyes in between two masked figures as they sped off. He didn’t dare look at them. He was afraid of what they would do if he made eye contact. They had been rough with him already. He didn’t want to aggravate the situation. He looked down at his feet as the car drove off.

Just after the car vanished down the street, the other occupants of the house began to panic. They had seen everything through the window. They saw their loved one being forced into a car with these masked people. Even if they wanted to do something, they knew they couldn’t. Who knows what those people would have done to anyone who dared interfered. The only thing they could do was to watch helplessly as their loved one was taken away but once the car disappeared, one of the occupants ran right to the house phone. They picked it up and called the police to report what had just happened.

When the police arrived the people told them what they had seen and described the car and the occupants as best as they could. They had made sure to remember as much as possible but the police weren’t too sure if they could track down the car but they promised the family that they would do their best. They told the family to remain calm, lock their doors and windows and to not give up hope. They would do the best with the information they had and wouldn’t stop until they found the man. That provided them some relief but they were still worried.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

In the car, one of the men pulled a pillowcase over the frightened man’s head while the other tied his hands together with a zip tie. He secured it as tightly as possible which hurt but the man didn’t dare say anything. He had to be very careful with what he said around these men. He wouldn’t be surprised if they beat him over the smallest annoyance.

So he sat there for the duration of the ride in complete silence. He didn’t move a muscle or utter a word. His kidnappers didn’t say anything either. They didn’t even taunt him which he thought to be odd. Surely they would have said something to try and intimidate him but no. The whole ride was quiet and very tense.

When they finally arrived at their destination the man was forcefully pulled from the car and shoved in a direction. He was disoriented as they refused to take off the pillowcase but tried his best to remain calm. He regained his footing and went in the direction he was guided in.

He could tell that they had taken him into a building but he wasn’t sure how big or small it was. He could tell that there wasn’t much light as the pillowcase still allowed him to see the changes in light but nothing else.

He was forced to sit on a chair and did it without hesitation. He knew that the less he fought them, the higher chance he had of making it out of the situation alive. When he was seated he could feel that his legs were bound together. This was probably done as a precaution to keep him from running away but even without the binding the man wouldn’t dare.

When all seemed to settle down, the man found the courage to talk again. He asked what was going on and nothing else. He didn’t want to annoy his kidnappers with being too chatty. He gulped as he waited for a response. The fact that he didn’t get one immediately worried him. Why weren’t they saying anything? Surely they brought him to their hideout for a reason. Were they going to interrogate him for information? Perhaps they wanted names of people in the LGBTQ+ community. It wouldn’t be that shocking if that was what they were after. Maybe they had a hit list and wanted to go after LGBTQ+ people. If that was the case then the man made up his mind. He wasn’t going to say a word even if it killed him. He couldn’t betray the community he loved so much so if he were to die then so be it.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

His kidnappers kept him waiting for a long time. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed but it had to have been hours at least. Minutes could feel like hours if one didn’t know the time and couldn’t see the light of the sun but the man knew it wasn’t minutes that had passed since he arrived. He knew hours had passed but how many, he wasn’t sure. He guessed that maybe five hours had gone by but it could have been more.

Eventually one of them began to speak to him. They started off laughing at him because he looked so pathetic according to them. They were amused at the sight of the man tied up on the chair. The man didn’t flinch or react. He wanted to engage with the kidnappers as little as possible.

When the kidnapper didn’t get the reaction he was hoping for he tried again but to no avail. Angered, the kidnapper now resorted to kicking and punching the man while he continued to taunt him. Still he got no response. The kidnapper turned to his friends and asked what the hell was wrong with the man. Was he broken? Why didn’t anything affect him?

The other men in the room shrugged and suggested things the kidnapper could do to the man. They told him where to hit or kick him and soon his knife got involved. He took it out of his pocket and began to make little slices all over the man’s body. It wasn’t necessarily meant to draw blood but merely to torture him.

The men laughed and soon began asking the man some questions. They asked him why he wasn’t reacting or putting up a fight. They were curious. They asked him if he was afraid, even a little bit but the man refused to engage. He did his best to think of something positive. To pretend that he was somewhere else. He pretended that he was back home with his family and that they were together at the table talking about how their days went.

It almost brought a tear to his eye but he knew that he would return to them soon enough. In time his kidnappers would get bored of him and let him go. He just had to wait this out. Surely his family would have called the police by now. Perhaps they were on their way. He just had to hold on a little longer and then he would be free.

While he was off in his little world, he failed to hear anything his kidnappers were saying to him. This angered them when they didn’t get any response from the man. They continued to beat and cut him but still nothing worked.

After many, many hours they gave up. The man wasn’t talking and it seemed as if he wouldn’t. There was no point in continuing, they reasoned. It was best that they dispose of him since he was of no use to them.

One of the men got out a rope that he had been holding on to for some time and walked up to the prisoner with a smirk on his face. He wrapped the rope around the man’s neck and pulled as hard as he could. The man jerked at the sudden action and tried his best to fight back but he was no match. Not only was he tied up but he was a lot smaller and significantly weaker than the man with the rope. Even if he hadn't been tied up he wouldn’t have stood a chance.

It took some doing but soon the man stopped moving. He no longer struggled. His body went limp and he slouched in the chair but that wasn’t the end of it. He had passed out due to the lack of air but he was still alive. The man knew this so he kept the rope tightened around his neck for a bit longer. After a few more minutes had passed one of the other men came up and checked their prisoner’s pulse. He was dead.

His name was René Martínez and he was 40 years old.

AFTERMATH

René Martínez’s body was found two days later on the 3rd of June, 2016 in Colonia Canada, Choloma in Honduras which is not too far away from San Pedro Sula. After his body was found his family went to the San Pedro Sula’s morgue and identified him. His body showed signs of violence and the cause of death appears to be strangulation.

There is no clear clue as to the motivation behind the killing or who is responsible. As of June 2020, there has been no news on any arrests in the case.

IN LIFE

René Martínez was very popular in his hometown. He was described as one of the main defenders of the LGBTQ+ community. He even was considering running for Congress in 2017 with the Partido Nacional (National Party). He was an enthusiastic demoratic leader who did his best to improve the quality of life for the people in his community.

He worked in the same area where he lived, in the Chamelecón area of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. This area was one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods as it had a high gang presence.

He did many things to serve his community. He worked as the president of his community council, the Comunidad Gay Sampedrana por la Salud Integral (Gay Community of San Pedro Sula for Integral Health), conventional member of the National Party, volunteer youth outreach center supported by USAID, and was a member of the Access Committee for Comprehensive Care of Persons living with HIV in the Northern Coast which was also supported by UNAIDS.

In October of 2015, both USAID and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute sponsored a conference in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The conference focused on supporting the political engagement of the LGBTQ+ community in both Latin America and the Caribbean. Over 300 activists from across the region attended the gathering and René was one of them. Notable people who arrived were Randy Berry and Tamara Adrián who were with a Special U.S. Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons. Tamara Adrián is the first openly transgendered persion who has been elected into the Venezuelan National Assembly.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Activists forge ahead in violence-plagued Honduras city”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 20 February 2017, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/02/20/activists-forge-ahead-violence-plagued-honduras-city/.

  2. “CASE HISTORY: RENÉ MARTÍNEZ”. Frontline Defenders, 8 June 2016, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-rene-martinez.

  3. “Honduras Gay Rights Activist Rene Martinez Murdered”. Zachary Volkert. Inquisitr, 6 June 2016, https://www.inquisitr.com/3172662/honduras-gay-rights-activist-rene-martinez-murdered/.

  4. “Matan a presidente de la Comunidad Gay en San Pedro Sula”. La Prensa, 3 June 2016, https://www.laprensa.hn/sucesos/966575-410/matan-a-presidente-de-la-comunidad-gay-en-san-pedro-sula.

  5. “NDI MOURNS TRAGIC ASSASSINATION OF HONDURAN LGBTI ACTIVIST RENÉ MARTÍNEZ”. NDI, 21 June 2016, https://www.ndi.org/NDI_Mourns_Rene_Mart%C3%ADnez.

  6. “Prominent LGBT activist murdered in Honduras”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 4 June 2016, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/06/04/prominent-lgbt-activist-murdered-in-honduras/.

  7. “René Martinez Izaguirre”. Human Rights Defenders Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/fr/hrdrecord/rene-martinez-izaguirre/.

  8. “Rene Martinez, Leader of LGBT Community in Honduras, Kidnapped and Murdered”. Andy Towle. Towleroad, 5 June 2016, https://www.towleroad.com/2016/06/rene-martinez/.

  9. “State Department condemns murder of LGBT activist in Honduras”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 6 June 2016, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/06/06/state-department-condemns-murder-of-lgbt-activist-in-honduras/.

Images

  1. René Martínez. Democratic Underground. https://www.democraticunderground.com/10141480353.

Day 24: FannyAnn Viola Eddy

Photo from Find a Grave

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, sexual assault, rape, brutality, beating, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


There is still limited information on the case despite the amount of time that has passed. There is next to no mention of who killed her or convictions.

It was a calm night on the 28th of September, 2004 in the city of Freetown located in Sierra Leone, West Africa. In an office building in the town, one person had stayed behind long after her staff and all employees had gone home. She could have gone home too but she was so absorbed in her work that she didn’t want to leave just yet. She was passionate about what she did and when she got started, she found it hard to stop until her work was complete.

As the young woman worked, a group of three men approached the building. Outside was dark with only the street lamps to light their way. While there was a decent amount of light from the street lamps, the men were still hidden in the darkness. They kept to the darkest areas they could find and wore dark clothing. That made them almost invisible to anyone who would have looked in their general direction but luckily for them, due to the late hour no one was in the area except for them. Everyone was already home and getting ready for bed.

No one was there to witness the group of men as they walked up to the office building. One had brought a crowbar which they held firmly in one hand. The man looked around to be sure that no one was around except for his crew and when he was sure that they were alone, he used the crowbar to pry open a door. It took a little effort but he managed to get it open.

Once the door was open the group of men rushed into the building and looked around. They were looking for their target. They knew that she would be the only one there or should be but if there were others then they were prepared to deal with them. Luckily for the men, it appeared as if no one else was in the building. All of the lights were off and it seemed devoid of any signs of life. The only light source came from one room and that was where their target was located.

The men walked as silently as they could towards the room. They were able to see the light from underneath the closed door so they knew that was where she was. They all looked at each other when they were standing next to the door and nodded. When they did, one of the group members kicked open the door and the three men ran inside.

The young woman who was in her office jumped when the door slammed open. She screamed when she saw the group of men run towards her. Her immediate reaction was to jump up from her desk and to try and run away. She had no clue who these men were or what their intentions were. If they were there to rob the place then as far as she was concerned, they could take whatever they wanted. Nothing was more valuable than her life. Her focus was finding the best route out of the room then out of the building.

She tried to run past one of the men as she assumed he was going for one of the more valuable items lying on a desk but he didn’t. Instead, he lunged at her and grabbed her arm causing her to scream. She tried to pull away but he kept a firm grasp on her. He held on so tightly that she felt as if it would leave a bruise later.

She screamed at the man to let her go. She told the group that they could take whatever they wanted. She just wished that they would let her go but one of the men informed her that wasn’t their plan. She looked up in horror at the one who seemed to be the leader as he approached her. She continued to struggle and free herself from her captor but still he kept a firm grip on her. Her struggles only grew the closer the leader got and when he was within arms length, he slapped her across the face and demanded that she stopped struggling but she refused. That angered him.

He grabbed the woman by her other arm and yanked her from the grasp of his fellow group member. With as much force as he could he threw her against a nearby desk in hopes that would slow her down but if anything, it made her more determined to get away. She was becoming more frightened by the second. Her instincts told her that she had to leave if she wanted to leave. She got on her hands and knees and tried to crawl away but she was hurting from the force of the impact. It made it difficult for her to move around which gave her attacker plenty of time to walk up to her and grab her by her hair.

She continued to scream and trash about but instead of this making the man let her go, it just continued to fuel his anger towards her. Eventually, he and his group had enough of her. They didn’t come to deal with a screaming woman. They had a plan to carry out so that was what they were going to do.

The man threw her to the floor this time and pressed his foot down on her stomach to keep her down. She tried hitting his leg to throw him off balance but the more she hit the more pressure he applied until it was physically impossible to add anymore. She began to cough a bit under the compression.

She looked up at the men who were now surrounding her. By now her screams had turned to tears. She was afraid. She was afraid of what was to come. Now that she knew that these men were not robbers and in fact had come for her, she feared for what was to come. She had an idea of what their intentions were and if it wasn’t to kill her… The thought brought panic to her. She preferred that they just killed her right then and there.

With a brave face she looked up at the leader and told him to just kill her. Clearly they had come with the intention to harm her so they might as well just kill her right away and be done with it but the men had other plans in mind. They told her that just killing her wouldn’t be any fun. That would have been boring. The leader said that in time they would end her life but in the meantime they were going to “enjoy themselves”. Her eyes widened when she heard that. She knew what they meant and she didn’t want it to happen.

She resumed fighting the men. She kicked and punched and screamed again. She screamed for help at the top of her lungs even though she knew it was useless. She and her attackers were the only ones in the building. No one was there to hear her or come to her aid. Even if someone was walking on the streets, they wouldn’t have been able to hear her cries. She was on her own. She was alone in the room with the men who had surrounded her.

When she realized that it was useless to fight, she broke down. Tears poured down her face. They streamed down her cheeks and neck as she felt her clothes being torn from her body. She did put up some resistance but there wasn’t much she could do about it. She couldn’t fight back. Both her arms and legs had been pinned down. She was helpless. All she could do was cry.

She pleaded with the men to let her go. She wouldn’t tell anyone about what had happened if they just let her go. They said nothing and laughed at her. They went through with their plan while she had no choice but to endure it. It hurt. Everything hurt. She continued to plead with them. She knew it was hopeless but that didn’t stop her from trying.

Her tears soaked the collar of her shirt as the men had their way with her. It was a horrible experience. She wanted to die. She wished they would kill her so she wouldn’t have to endure this torture any longer but they kept her alive the entire time.

When they were done, she tried once more to get away. She felt like something came alive in her. She found the strength to kick and fight back. She managed to kick one of the men and it felt so satisfying to her when she heard him scream in pain. That gave her even more energy. She stood up and tried to locate the nearest possible exit but before she could even take one step, she felt a sharp pain originating in the back of her head.

She fell to the ground and with a dazed look on her face, she looked up. Standing behind her was one of the men holding a crowbar. She held her head in pain and didn’t put up a fight when she was hit again. She accepted it as she fell to the ground in even more pain.

As she laid there she heard a window smash but she was in too much pain to see what was going on. She assumed that the men were just creating an easy escape route but she soon found out that she was wrong. They weren’t trying to leave. They were just looking for a more efficient weapon…

After shattering the glass, one of the men picked up the biggest shard he could find and walked over to the woman. Underneath his mask he had a smirk on his face.

The woman barely had the energy to look up at him. All she was able to manage was to slightly turn her head and when she saw what was coming, she wished that she hadn’t. The man was looming over her and the glass shard gleamed in the dim light emanating from the single lamp in the room. Everything happened so quickly. The woman barely had time to process it.

The man raised the shard up before bringing it down towards the woman’s face. The sharp glass sliced her skin and she screamed out in pain. It hurt beyond description. She could feel her skin part as the glass sliced it’s way through and she could feel the blood gush from the wound. It wasn’t particularly deep but since it was on the face and it was a long cut there was quite a bit of blood. The smell of iron invaded her senses and it sickened her.

Her attackers laughed at her as she screamed in pain and terror. They were enjoying her suffering. It pleased them. Entertained them. It showed how sick these men were.

The man attacked her a few more times before another one approached her. He punched the screaming and crying woman in an attempt to shut her up but it didn’t work. By now all of them were fed up with her. None of them could believe that she was still making noise even after everything they had done to her.

One nodded to the man. That was the signal. They were sick of her now and wanted to get out of the building. They weren’t sure if someone had passed by and called the cops but they didn’t want to stick around to find out. They had done what they had come to do. It was time they departed.

The man grabbed the woman by the face and snapped her head to the side. He was the strongest of the group which is why he was the one who was chosen for this particular task. That sudden movement was all it took. The men heard a loud cracking sound and the woman went limp. She collapsed in the man’s grasp so he let her go and let her body fall to the ground. She was lifeless. She didn’t move. Her chest didn’t even rise signalling that she was no longer breathing. The men had completed their mission. Now it was time they left.

They grabbed everything that could possibly point the police to them and left from the same door they entered. The woman’s body remained on the ground where it was discovered the following day by her friends and coworkers the following morning.

Her name was FannyAnn Viola Eddy and she was just 30 years old.

AFTERMATH

There are conflicting reports on multiple sites about what happened after the murder and even about the murder itself. A majority of the sources say that FannyAnn Eddy was raped, stabbed then had her neck broken while at least one source said that wasn’t the case and that she was in fact strangled.

When it comes to after the murder, some sources say that no killer had been arrested in connection to the crime while others say a man known as Mr. Sankoh who was around 19 years of age at the time had been arrested. At least one source said that he was a janitor and former employee of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association office. Some sources say that he escaped and hasn’t been convicted for the murder.

No one else has been arrested and there hasn’t been a trial for the murder.

Police don’t consider it to be a hate crime while everyone who knew FannyAnn Eddy believe that it was.

IN LIFE

FannyAnn Eddy was known as a fearless leader of the LGBTQ+ community. She was known to use her own money to buy materials for young lesbian women so they could make clothes and various items they could sell to make a living. She spent much of her time going to schools to educate children about their own self worth. All of her work and courage made her well known throughout Africa and even other countries.

In 2002, FannyAnn Eddy founded the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association (SLLGA). This group provided both social and psychological support to people in the LGBTQ+ community in Sierra Leone. She was also a member of Sexual-Rights Activists Delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, All Africa Rights Initiative (AARI) and the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL).

She testified in front of the U.N Commision on Human Rights in Geneva concerning the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Sierra Leone. She explained how they faced constant harassment and violence. She said that hate attacks on people identifying as LGBTQ+ went unpunished by authorities which just encouraged the violent attacks and treatment of the LGBTQ+ community.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Breaking the Silence on Human Rights Violations in Sierra Leone under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): A Shadow Report on Discrimination and Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”. African Men for Sexual Health and Rights Network, Concerned Women’s Initiative of Sierra Leone, Dignity Association of Sierra Leone, Heartland Alliance’s Global Initiative for Sexuality and Human Rights, International Human Rights Law Clinic, American University Washington College of Law, The Initiative for Equal Rights and West African Youth Network. March 2014, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/SLE/INT_CCPR_CSS_SLE_16487_E.pdf. (Direct Download Link)

  2. “Brutal Murder of Fanny Ann Eddy, Lesbian and Gay Activist from Sierra Leone”. Hans Binswanger. Kubatana, 2 October 2004, http://archive.kubatana.net/html/archive/sexual/041002hb.asp?sector=HR%22target=%22_blank%22.

  3. “FannyAnn Eddy”. Human Rights Defenders Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/hrdrecord/fannyann-eddy/.

  4. “Fannyann Eddy”. Joan Nestle, https://www.joannestle.com/dedication/index.html.

  5. “FannyAnn Eddy - Nominee”. Victor Salvo. The Legacy Project, https://legacyprojectchicago.org/person/fannyann-eddy.

  6. “Fannyann Eddy (1974-2004)”. The Hirschfeld-Eddy-Foundation, http://www.hirschfeld-eddy-stiftung.de/en/foundation/about-us/names/fannyann-eddy/.

  7. “FannyAnn Viola Eddy: Speaking Against Silence”. Laura Darling. Making Queer History, https://www.makingqueerhistory.com/articles/2016/12/20/fannyann-viola-eddy-speaking-against-silence.

  8. “SIERRA LEONE: CLARIFICATION ON THE MURDER OF FANNYANN EDDY”. OutRight Action International, 12 January 2005, https://outrightinternational.org/content/sierra-leone-clarification-murder-fannyann-eddy.

  9. “Sierra Leone gay activist killed”. BBC News, 5 October 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3716768.stm.

  10. “Sierra Leone Gay Activist Killed”. The Associated Press. CBS News, 5 October 2004, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sierra-leone-gay-activist-killed/.

  11. “SIERRA LEONE: IGLHRC MOURNS THE MURDER OF FANNYANN EDDY; CALLS ON ACTIVISTS EVERYWHERE TO RESPOND”. Susana Fried. OutRight Action International, 4 October 2004, https://outrightinternational.org/content/sierra-leone-iglhrc-mourns-murder-fannyann-eddy-calls-activists-everywhere-respond.

  12. “Sierra Leone killing proves human rights defenders are at risk”. Human Rights House Foundation, 24 November 2004, https://humanrightshouse.org/articles/sierra-leone-killing-proves-human-rights-defenders-are-at-risk/.

  13. “Sierra Leone: Lesbian Rights Activist Brutally Murdered”. Human Rights Watch, 5 October 2004, https://www.hrw.org/news/2004/10/05/sierra-leone-lesbian-rights-activist-brutally-murdered.

  14. “SIERRA LEONE: UPDATE - ALLEGED FANNYANN EDDY MURDERER REPORTEDLY ESCAPES POLICE DETENTION IN SIERRA LEONE”. OutRight Action International, 15 July 2005, https://outrightinternational.org/content/sierra-leone-update-alleged-fannyann-eddy-murderer-reportedly-escapes-police-detention.

Image

  1. Fannyann Viola Eddy. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19893169/fannyann-viola-eddy/photo.

Day 23: Pablo Fullana Borsato

Photo by María Farías

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, a knife, stabbing, knife attack, sexual assult, attempted rape, brutality, alleged homophobic attack, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


There has been no mention online as to what triggered the attack or the events that lead up to it. What is portrayed in this story was created on assumption based on the known facts published online.

It was a Saturday night on the 30th of November, 2019. Nightlife was booming in the town of Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Young people were out in bars or nightclubs with friends or romantic partners and enjoying their time. They danced to the music with their arms up and a drink or two in their hands. In the more busier nightclubs or bars with the loudest music and brightest and colourful lights, people just about screamed in excitement and intoxication as they partied.

In one bar, one that was a bit quieter than most, a young man entered and took a seat at the bar. He ordered himself a drink and enjoyed the solitude. Before arriving at the bar, he had been with some friends and they had all gone bowling. It was fun but he was getting tired. He decided to have a quick drink at a bar before heading home and going to bed.

While he drank, another person entered the bar and sat down near the young man. He looked young, perhaps just at the legal age for drinking. He ordered himself a drink and sat in silence until he glanced over at the man sitting not too far away from him. He was busy watching the TV that was attached to the wall across from their seats but looked over at the young man when he sensed his eyes on him.

The young man was shocked that the man had looked at him and quickly looked away. He tried to pretend that nothing had happened and tensed up when the man came and sat next to him. He introduced himself politely and started a conversation with the young man. He was shy at first but quickly opened up and they began chatting.

After some time, the two had gotten to know each other and moved from the bar to the nearby pool table. They challenged each other to a game and had fun. During the game they sipped on some sparkling wine and got into the competitive spirit.

When the game was over and they both had their fair share of drinks, the young man who was in his 30s invited the younger one back to his house. He said that it wasn’t too far away. They both had quite a bit to drink so he offered the younger one a place to stay for the night where he could sleep off the alcohol. The younger one accepted so they paid for their drinks and left the bar.

They made their way to the older man’s house where he set up his new friend in the guest bedroom. He made sure that he had everything he needed and showed him where the bathroom and towels were. He told him he could use whatever he wanted and to help himself to anything in the fridge if he needed. He even made sure to leave headache pills and a glass of water on the nightstand should the younger man need them. The younger of the two thanked his host and crawled into the bed. It felt so good to curl up under the covers in the nice, warm and soft bed. He fell asleep almost instantly.

The other young man, the owner of the house and host of the younger one went to his room after making sure his new friend was comfortable and had everything he needed. He had drank a bit more alcohol than his friend so he was feeling it more. He was sure he was going to have a decent hangover the next morning but he didn’t have any big plans so it wasn’t that big of a deal. It wouldn’t be nice but at least it would interfere with his day. He would just relax the next day until he felt better.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

The next morning the younger man had gotten up first. He wasn’t as affected by the alcohol as his host was so he didn’t have as strong symptoms. He got out of bed just fine and went to the bathroom to freshen up. When he made his way back to his room, he noticed his host had gotten up and was in the kitchen.

He went over to him to thank him for the hospitality. He approached the other and greeted him with a friendly good morning and polite smile. The home owner turned to face and responded very much the same. He had a bottle of headache pills in his hand and in the other, an empty glass. He filled it up in the sink then set it on the counter so he could open the bottle.

While he was doing that, his guest watched him. He had his mind on something. He was thinking hard about something and as the cogs in his brain turned, he focused on his host. He watched every little movement carefully. He was almost like a predator observing his prey. Just like the other night, the young man and homeowner sensed the other’s eyes on him and turned to face his new friend. He gave him a little friendly smile then prepared to take the pills.

That smile set something off in the 18 year old. Something surged deep inside him and he wasn’t sure what. He had felt this sort of thing before but this time it was different. It wasn’t like the previous times. It bothered him and like all of the other times, he acted out on it.

He rushed towards his new friend and host and slapped the pills and glass out of his hands. They fell to the floor with the glass bouncing off the ground but not breaking and the water spilling all over. The homeowner was stunned at this and asked what on earth had gotten into the other’s mind but before he could even finish speaking he was shoved to the ground. He landed with a thud and grunted. He didn’t have the wind knocked out of him but it felt that way due to the force of the impact.

He looked up at his guest who was now on top of him and pinning him to the floor. He struggled against him but because he had been surprised, his opponent had the upper hand. He pushed up his t-shirt and tugged at his pants and underwear. The older man fought him off the best he could and yelled at him repeatedly to stop. He told him that what he was doing was not only inappropriate but also unwanted and that he would call the cops.

The threat of the cops being called angered and panicked the younger man. He managed to rip off both the older man’s pants and underwear and threw them off to the side. He had planned on removing his pants but the older man managed to shove him off. He kicked him for good measure and ran away. He didn’t even bother trying to reach for his clothes. That would have just wasted his time. He had to get away and fast.

He ran to the living room where he tried to grab the phone but his attacker was quick. He grabbed the other man before he could reach the phone and pulled him down towards the floor. He stumbled as he tried to regain his balance and tried to shake the other man off. It didn’t do much good as he had a secure grip on him.

The older man frantically looked around the room as he looked for something that he could use to defend himself with. To his relief, he saw an empty champagne bottle nearby. It had been left over from a get together he recently had with some friends. He had been thankful that he didn’t throw it out. It was in his reach so he grabbed it and threw it at his attacker but unfortunately it missed. However it did surprise the other man and that was enough for him to let go of his victim.

While it did offer a chance of escape, it also severely angered the attacker. Once he got over the shock of the surprise attack he looked at the other man and glared at him. He told him that he was going to pay for that. He punched him to make sure he stayed down then went over to the kitchen. There, he found a victorinox knife laying on the counter. He picked it up with a smirk and went over to the other man. He was just recovering from the punch when the other approached him. He looked up and his eyes widened with horror when he saw what the other man had in his hand.

He tried backing away but his back hit the sofa and blocked him from escaping. He held out his arms in an attempt to protect himself but it did little good against a sharp kitchen knife. The young man brought it down over and over again on the older man and didn’t stop. He kept stabbing him wherever he could.

How dare this man refuse him. How dare this man fight back against him. How dare he threaten to call the cops. It was wrong of him and he had to be punished so that was what he was going to do.

The knife cut every bit of skin it came in contact with. Blood spilled from all of the wounds. It dripped to the floor forming little puddles that got bigger with every new wound.

When the older man could no longer hold up his arms to defend himself, his attacker saw that as a victory. He now had access to his chest which he stabbed as many times as he could. He plunged the knife in and forced it as deep as it could go before pulling it out and stabbing again in another spot.

Eventually the man’s chest was covered in stab wounds. There appeared to be no place that had been spared of wounds. He slouched against the sofa and with no fight or energy left, he fell to the ground but he wasn’t dead just yet. Somehow he had managed to hold on. That wouldn’t do for the attacker. He wasn’t going to stop until this man was dead. He gripped the knife with his bloody hand and plunged it into the other man’s back.

It was getting harder to hold now due to the blood but it didn’t stop him. Nothing could stop him now. He was in a frenzied state and nothing could snap him out of it now. Not until the adrenaline had worn off. When it did, he took a deep breath and stumbled a bit as he slowly backed away. He looked down at the sight before him.

The body of the man he had met the other night was lying on the ground covered and surrounded in blood. He was completely still. His chest didn’t even rise meaning that he was no longer breathing. He was dead. The young man didn’t know at what point the man had died but he had.

He stared at the body for a little while to see if he really was dead or not. When he was confident that he was he knew that he had to leave. He wasn’t sure if anyone had heard or seen through the windows what had happened. He couldn’t risk the police showing up with him still in the house.

He dropped the knife on the kitchen counter and quickly washed the blood off his hands. Afterwards, he grabbed the broken champagne bottle and shoved it in his bag. After collecting his belongings he ran out of the house and left the body of the homeowner on the ground. The man had died in a violent manner from a seemingly unprompted attack.

His name was Pablo Fullana Borsato and he was just 36 years old.

AFTERMATH

Pablo’s cousin was the one who had found the body. His cousin had tried multiple times to call him throughout the day but received no response. He grew worried with each call that got no response so in the afternoon they made their way to Pablo’s house to check up on him. There they found the body of their cousin covered in blood on the living room floor partially naked. They called the police to report the murder

Pablo had around 60 to 70 stab wounds and the cause of his death was a traumatic cardiac arrest due to the amount of stab wounds to the chest and all of the organs inside such as the heart and lungs.

After the murder, the killer, 18 year old Leonel Fazio left the crime scene and made his way to his mother’s home. It was around 8:30 in the morning when he banged on the window and looked in. He told his mother that he had just killed someone. He was covered in blood and asking her to let him in and provide him a change of clothes. His mother screamed when she saw him which woke up her daughters and the neighbours. Despite it being her son, she didn’t open the door or respond to him. At first, his mother didn’t want to believe what she was hearing. She didn’t want to believe that he had killed someone. She thought that perhaps the blood had come from a cow or pig since he had stolen and killed them in the past.

At around 9 A.M, Leonel had spent around 30 minutes at his mother’s house. She refused to see him so he gave up and went to his sister’s house to seek aid. Like their mother, she too refused to let him in or speak with him.

He had not been allowed to live with either his sister or mother for the past year before the murder. He had been violent, stole and broke things when he didn’t get his way.

When he didn’t get help from either his mother or sister, he left and made his way to the Miter neighborhood, about three blocks away from the murder scene. It was around 9:30 in the morning the 18 year old had exposed himself to an 81 year old woman and attempted to sexually assault her near a bank. Luckily, a person nearby had seen what happened and managed to intervene before he had the chance to do so. During the intervention, the teenager said "I am not afraid of you, I just came from killing one" to the neighbour who had stopped him from attacking the elderly woman.

The police were called to the location and arrested the 18 year old. When the police arrested the 18 year old they noticed blood on his clothing and shoes. They investigated this and found that the pattern on the soles of his sneakers were very similar to footprints left at the crime scene. Upon examining the contents of his bag, they found a broken champagne bottle that resembled the pieces of broken glass at the crime scene.

Leonel Fazio has not yet been convicted and the state of his mentality is being tested. He is well known for being a danger to others as he has a long list of previous offences.

His mother had said that she tried to get help for him because at an early age he showed signs of not being quite right. She wanted him to see a psychologist to see what could be done about his unusual behaviour but no one got in touch with her. Had he received the proper treatment, it is entirely possible that Pablo’s murder could have been avoided.

She also believes that her son could be gay. She says it is a mother’s instinct and that she suspects it after everything she had seen and heard on the topic.

IN LIFE

Pablo was a 37 year old architect and well known member of the LGBTQ+ community. He was part of the first LGBTQ+ group in the city of Colón called the LGBT Colón Collective. This group is responsible for the organization of the first pride march in the town.

Pablo’s friends have said that Pablo was “comprometido fuertemente con la construcción una sociedad basada en la justicia social y la generación de oportunidades para todas, todes y todos” (Translation by me: strongly committed with the construction of a society based on social justice and a generation of opportunities for everyone)*.

He was also the creator of the Open Air Museum or “Museo a Cielo abierto”. This project was to take the Municipal Lake of Colón and turn it into an artistic space in support of both equality and diversity.

(*The reason I included the original Spanish text was to show you the gender inclusive vocabulary oftodas, todes y todos”.)

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Asesinan de 60 puñaladas a activista LGBT Pablo Fullana Borsato en Buenos Aires”. La Nación. Mundo, 3 December 2019, https://www.elpais.com.uy/mundo/asesinan-punaladas-activista-lgbt-pablo-fullana-borsato-buenos-aires.html.

  2. “Asesinan de 60 puñaladas a un activista LGBTQ en Argentina”. Esteban Guzmán. Los Angeles Blade, 3 December 2019, https://www.losangelesblade.com/2019/12/07/asesinan-de-60-punaladas-a-un-activista-lgbtq-en-argentina/.

  3. “Asesinan de 60 puñaladas a un arquitecto y militante por la diversidad de género”. La Vanguardia, 3 December 2019, https://www.lavanguardia.com/sucesos/20191203/472039673758/asesinan-60-punaladas-arquitecto-militante-diversidad-genero-pablo-fullana.html.

  4. “Asesinan de 60 puñaladas al arquitecto y activista LGBT Pablo Fullana Borsato”. Desde Crespo, 3 December 2019, https://www.desdecrespo.com.ar/index.php/2019/12/03/asesinan-de-60-punaladas-al-arquitecto-y-activista-lgbt-pablo-fullana-borsato/.

  5. “Asesinaron a puñaladas a un activista gay en Colón”. Alejandra Zani. Presents, 4 December 2019, https://agenciapresentes.org/2019/12/04/asesinaron-a-punaladas-a-un-activista-gay-en-colon/.

  6. “Body of architect and LGBTQ activist found dead in brutal stabbing”. Buenos Aires Times, 3 December 2019, https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/body-of-architect-and-lgbtq-activist-found-dead-in-brutal-stabbing.phtml.

  7. “Colón: a Pablo Fullana Borsato lo asesinaron de 70 navajazos en el tórax, espalda y cuello”. Agencia NOVA, 4 December 2019, http://www.agencianova.com.ar/nota.asp?n=2019_12_4&id=80884&id_tiponota=24.

  8. “Colón: asesinan de 60 puñaladas al arquitecto y activista LGBT Pablo Fullana Borsato”. Diario Primera Línea, 5 December 2019, https://diarioprimeralinea.com.ar/colon-asesinan-de-60-punaladas-al-arquitecto-y-activista-lgbt-pablo-fullana-borsato/.

  9. “Colón: El asesino aplicó setenta puñaladas a la víctima”. El faro, 2 December 2019, http://colonbuenosaires.com.ar/elfaro/colon-el-asesino-aplico-setenta-punaladas-a-la-victima/.

  10. “Conmoción en Colón por el asesinato de un joven arquitecto militante de la comunidad LGTB”. Rojas Ciudad, 3 December 2019, http://www.rojasciudad.net/nota.asp?id=82692&t=Conmocion-en-Colon-por-el-asesinato-de-un-joven-arquitecto-militante-de-la-comunidad-LGTB.

  11. “El crimen del arquitecto: quién es “Leo”, el asesino de las 60 puñaladas denunciado hasta por su familia”. Javier Firpo. Clarín, 3 December 2019, https://www.clarin.com/policiales/crimen-arquitecto-leo-asesino-60-punaladas-denunciado-familia_0_m-7UDWEA.html.

  12. “Escalofriantes detalles del activista LGBT asesinado a puñaladas”. Minuto24. Minuto Rioja, 3 December 2019, https://www.minutorioja.com.ar/policiales/2019/12/03/escalofriantes-detalles-del-activista-lgbt-asesinado-a-punaladas-20778.

  13. “"Incontrolable": el violento pasado de Leo, acusado de matar de 60 navajazos al arquitecto”. Redacción LA. Los Andes, 4 December 2019, https://www.losandes.com.ar/article/view/?slug=incontrolable-la-cruda-historia-de-leo-acusado-de-matar-de-60-navajazos-al-arquitecto.

  14. ““Mami maté a un tipo”, le dijo el detenido por el crimen del arquitecto de Colón a su mamá”. Será Justicia. 4 December 2019, https://www.serajusticia.net/mami-mate-a-un-tipo-le-dijo-el-detenido-por-el-crimen-del-arquitecto-de-colon-a-su-mama/.

  15. “Marchan y reclaman justicia por el asesinato de Pablo Fullana Borsato”. La Izquierda Diario, 4 December 2019, https://www.laizquierdadiario.com/Marchan-y-reclaman-justicia-por-el-asesinato-de-Pablo-Fullana-Borsato.

  16. “Muere el activista LGBT argentino Pablo Fullana Borsato”. Stefano Carbone. Blasting News, 7 December 2019, https://es.blastingnews.com/internacionales/2019/12/muere-el-activista-lgbt-argentino-pablo-fullana-borsato-003029524.html.

  17. “Quién es “Leo”, el sospechoso de asesinar a un arquitecto de Buenos Aires militante LGBTI”. La Voz, 4 December 2019, https://www.lavoz.com.ar/sucesos/quien-es-leo-sospechoso-de-asesinar-a-un-arquitecto-de-buenos-aires-militante-lgbti.

  18. “Un arquitecto y activista LGTBI fue asesinado de 60 puñaladas en Colón”. Soy Buenos Aires, 3 December 2019, https://www.buenosaires.soy/policiales/un-arquitecto-activista-lgtbi-fue-asesinado-60-punaladas-colon-n82018.

Image

  1. Pablo Fullana Borsato. María Farías. Facebook, 26 September 2019, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10162222136495459&set=a.10150269251055459&type=3&theater.

Day 22: David Kato

Photo from Stringer/AP, source: The Guardian

*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, beating, brutality, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


There is a decent amount of information on this case but nothing is clear about the motive of the murder.

It was a peaceful day in Uganda. It was Monday morning on the 24th of January, 2011 and a man was on his way to work. Since it was such a nice day and that not too far from his house he decided to walk to the office. Once he got there he went to greet all of his friends and co-workers. After a long time of working together, they all felt more like family than co-workers and were all working towards the same goal.

He greeted everyone with a small smile and tried his best to seem happy but his friends could tell that something was off about him on that particular day. At first, no one wanted to bring it up because they figured that if the man wanted them to know then he would tell them. They didn’t want to pry or make him feel like he had to talk to them.

They let him be until one coworker finally decided to say something. They were worried about their friend and wanted to know why he seemed so sad on that particular day. The friend went up to the man who was sitting at his desk and casually sat down in front of him. The coworker and friend struck up a conversation and when the time was right, asked the man what was on his mind. They pointed out how he hadn’t been acting himself and expressed their concern. They told him that they were a friend and that he could tell them anything.

He paused and thought about it for a moment before nodding in agreement. He inhaled and let the breath out slowly before beginning his explanation. He told his friend that he had received an increase in harassment from multiple people. It began around the 3rd of January and was only getting worse. The man was worried. He didn’t know how far his harassers would take it and feared that one of more of them might escalate from threats to actual violence.

That wasn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility but his friend didn’t want to tell him that. They wanted to cheer him up and help calm him down. They tried to reassure him that things would get better. They said that it probably wouldn’t escalate and to not be too worried about it. No one would have the courage to actually hurt him however deep down, neither of them fully believed it but it did calm the man at least a little bit. Enough for him to continue the rest of the day at work.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

Two days later on the 26th of January, the man was relaxing in his home in Kampala. It was his day off so he decided to stay inside and take some time to rest and relax. The threats he had received continued and were now starting to get to him. He needed something to do to distract him from it. He couldn’t let it affect his work. The day off was one that he really needed. He used it to clear his mind from all negative thoughts and focused on what he would do when he returned to work.

He paced around his house as he pondered. He had many things that he wanted to do at work. There were so many ways of how he could help people. He thought about the different ways that he could stand up to the government to try and improve the lives of people like him. The minorities needed the country to change in order for them to live their authentic lives without the fear of arrest or worse, death.

It was just after lunch he had received a call from a friend and colleague and they spoke for a while. After saying their goodbyes, the man walked around his house and thought about the possibilities of what he could do in order to help the people of Uganda. As he did, he heard a knock on the front door. He stopped in his tracks and looked in the direction of the door. He wasn’t expecting anyone but it wasn’t uncommon for people to stop at his house announced during the day. Thinking it was just one of his friends, the man went over to the door and opened it up.

When he did, he saw that it was a man who he recognized. He wouldn’t say he would have considered the man a friend but he was someone he had helped in the past and was willing to help again if he needed it. He invited the man in his house and led him to the living room where he invited him to sit.

The two men sat on the couch and talked with each other for a while. At first, everything seemed to be going smoothly but at some point things took a drastic turn. The change happened almost instantly. The homeowner didn’t notice it at first. He got up from the couch and was about to make his way to the kitchen but the man he had invited in his home wasn’t about to let him leave.

He reached into his backpack that he brought with him and pulled out a hammer. He hadn’t brought it with the intention of using it but as the way things worked out, it would seem as if he had to, at least in his mind. He pulled it out of his bag and quickly approached the man.

When he got behind him, he brought the hammer down on his head. The man screamed out in pain and fell to the ground. He held his head in pain and when he pulled his hand away he saw that there was blood dripping from a wound. He looked up at the man who had attacked him with terror in his eyes. He saw the hammer in his hand and went into fight or flight mode. Since he had been caught off guard, he was now in no shape to fight. His vision was blurred and his world was spinning. Pain was pulsing through his head and he could feel his blood leak from the wound down his face and soaking his clothes. He had no choice. He had to run if he wanted a chance at survival.

He struggled to get to his feet but managed to make it. He was wobbly as he tried to focus his vision but he didn’t let that stop him. He stumbled to the side as he avoided another swing and since his attacker had lost his balance, it allowed the man to escape. His attacker fumbled and tried to regain his balance while the man did the same as he tried to escape.

Unfortunately, the attacker wasn’t injured. He recovered fairly quickly and hurried after his victim. He swung again but because he was so eager he missed again but his third swing didn’t miss. He hit the man on his head again and he went down. He fell to the ground and landed with a thud. His attacker watched him for a few seconds and when he noticed that the man wasn’t moving, he quickly ran out of the house.

Outside he jumped into a car that had been waiting for him which drove off the moment he got in.

It wasn’t long after that the man’s house cleaner had arrived. When she entered the house she got quite the shock. There was a blood trial on the ground along with some blood splatter on certain areas of the walls. When she saw the blood, she knew what it was immediately. She wanted to scream but she was in too much shock.

She called out for the homeowner after she didn’t see him with a quick glance around the house. Carefully, she stepped further into the house and continued to call out for the man. When she was confident that no one else was in the house, she went to the man’s bedroom. There she found him on his bed and barely moving.

After the attacker had left, the man had managed to crawl all the way to his bedroom. He was in so much pain but he wanted to get to his bed. He felt the life slipping away from him so he wanted a comfortable and familiar place to pace away.

When the house cleaner saw him, she rushed to his side and called out his name. She tried to get him to wake up and to respond but he wouldn’t. When nothing she did worked, she ran to the phone and called for an ambulance.

The ambulance arrived shortly after the call and rushed the injured man to Kawolo hospital but despite all of the hard work the paramedics did to keep the man alive, he died before they reached the hospital.

His name was David Kato and he was 47 years old.

AFTERMATH

The man who was responsible for David’s murder is a man named Nsubuga Enock. He has been arrested and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder.

Officially, the motivation for the murder was said to be a dispute between the two men but information as to what it was had not been released. The authorities claim that the murder had nothing to do with David’s sexuality but many people, including those who were close to him believe otherwise.

IN LIFE

David Kato was an advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda, also known as SMUG. He was also a prominent voice during the fight against the “Anti-Homosexual” Bill. It proposed a law that would criminalize homosexuality and would make it punishable with a fine and imprisonment. If someone was a “repeat” offender or were HIV positive then they could face the death penalty. The bill also stated that if anyone knew or suspected that someone was a homosexual then they should report them to the authorities within 24 hours.

Prior to his death, David along with many other people had their pictures and personal information like names and addresses published in a local newspaper called the Rolling Stone. The paper claimed that all of these people were LGBTQ+ and said that they should be killed. Since their personal information was released, they were victims of harassment and even violence.

Photo from Stringer/AP, source: The Guardian

In order to get back at the paper and get them to stop the publications, David took the Rolling Stone paper to court and won the case which was a big victory in the country.

Photo by Marc Hofer, source: The Guardian

On the 3rd of January, a High Court judge named Vincent Musoke-Kibuuke had ruled in favour of David. He ordered the newspaper to stop printing the private information of people. It was said that “the exposure of the identities of the persons and homes of the applicants for the purposes of fighting gayism and the activities of gays...threaten the rights of the applicants to privacy of the person and their homes”.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “David Kato Kisule - Inductee”. Victor Salvo. The Legacy Project, https://legacyprojectchicago.org/person/david-kato-kisule.

  2. “David Kato Laid to Rest”. LGBT+ Rights, News, Press Releases & Statements. Defend Defenders, 28 January 2011, https://defenddefenders.org/david-kato-laid-to-rest/.

  3. “David Kato, Uganda Gay Activist, Brutally Slain”. Max Delany and Godfrey Olukya. Huffington Post, 27 January 2011, updated 6 December 2017, https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/david-kato-uganda-gay-act_n_814775?ri18n=true.

  4. “David Kato, Ugandan gay actvist murdered after photo, address published in tabloid, Rolling Stone”. Aliyah Shahid. Daily News, 27 January 2011, https://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/david-kato-ugandan-gay-actvist-murdered-photo-address-published-tabloid-rolling-stone-article-1.151925

  5. “‘His death made us stronger’: Uganda's LGBT groups on David Kato’s murder”. Aaron Akinyemi. The Guardian, 26 January 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/26/uganda-lgbt-groups-david-kato-murder-5-years-on.

  6. “Joint statement between East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders-Network, Protection International and Foundation for Human Rights Initiative”. Hassan Shire Sheikh and Nerida Nthamburi. Defend Defenders, https://defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/publicstatementonthemurderofdavidkato.pdf. (Direct Download Link)

  7. “Man confesses to murder of Ugandan gay activist: police”. Barry Malone. The Globe and Mail, 2 February 2011, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/man-confesses-to-murder-of-ugandan-gay-activist-police/article564577/.

  8. “Prominent gay rights activist found beaten to death in Uganda”. Mail Foreign Service. Daily Mail, 28 January 2011, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1351414/Prominent-gay-rights-activist-beaten-death-winning-legal-action-newspaper-wanted-gays-hanged.html.

  9. “Sidney Nsubuga ENOCH”. Murderpedia, https://murderpedia.org/male.E/e/enoch-sidney.htm.

  10. “Targeted by gay-hate paper, then murdered in his home”. Paul Peachey. Independent, 28 January 2011, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/targeted-by-gay-hate-paper-then-murdered-in-his-home-2196700.html.

  11. “What David Kato's death can teach the world”. Navi Pillay. United Nations, https://www.un.org/africarenewal/web-features/what-david-katos-death-can-teach-world.

  12. “Uganda gay rights activist David Kato killed”. BBC News, 27 January 2011, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-12295718.

  13. “UGANDA: INVESTIGATE KILLING OF LGBT RIGHTS ACTIVIST”. Amnesty International, 27 January 2011, https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2011/01/uganda-investigate-killing-lgbt-rights-activist/.

  14. “Uganda: Investigate killing of LGBT rights activist David Kato”. Beth Berton-Hunter. Amnesty International, 27 January 2011, https://www.amnesty.ca/news/news-item/uganda-investigate-killing-of-lgbt-rights-activist-david-kato.

  15. “Uganda man jailed for killing gay activist David Kato”. BBC News, 10 November 2011, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-15685648.

  16. “Uganda: Promptly Investigate Killing of Prominent LGBT Activist”. Human Rights Watch, 27 January 2011, https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/01/27/uganda-promptly-investigate-killing-prominent-lgbt-activist.

  17. “Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato killed”. Agence France-Presse. National Post, 27 January 2011, https://nationalpost.com/news/ugandan-gay-rights-activist-david-kato-killed.

  18. “Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato found murdered”. Xan Rice. The Guardian, 27 January 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jan/27/ugandan-gay-rights-activist-murdered.

Images

  1. A 2010 copy of Rolling Stone in which the paper reveals the identity of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato (left). Stringer/AP. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/26/uganda-lgbt-groups-david-kato-murder-5-years-on.

  2. David Kato was found with serious wounds to his head at his home in Kampala, 26 January 2011. Stringer/AP. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/26/uganda-lgbt-groups-david-kato-murder-5-years-on.

  3. David Kato was murdered weeks after winning a court case against the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone over its policy of identifying homosexuals in its pages. Marc Hofer. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jan/27/ugandan-gay-rights-activist-murdered.


Day 20: Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien

Photo from NBC News

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, stabbing, knife attack, beating, hammer attack, brutality, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story was written using articles that spoke of the husband’s point of view. This is not a reflection of how Christa actually behaved or treated others.

It was a normal day in North Adams, Massachusetts on the 5th of January, 2018. The residents went about their normal lives with going to school or going to work. Towards the evening, people made their way home and began dinner preparations. When the hour began to approach 8 P.M, many residents of Veazie Street were preparing for bed. All leftover food had been put away and all of the dishes were loaded into the dishwashers to be cleaned overnight.

One household on Veazie Street had two residents who went about their night-time routine as they prepared for bed. They had cleaned up after dinner a little over an hour and during this time they had been relaxing in the living room and watching TV. Now it was getting late in the evening so they decided to call it a day. They were tired and just wanted to go to sleep.

It was way too hot upstairs so the couple decided to blow up their air mattress and sleep downstairs for the night. They would deal with the temperature issue in the morning. It was too late for them to think of a solution. The best place they decided to set up was in the living room as it had the right amount of space for the mattress.

Once the air mattress was blown up, the couple put a fitted sheet on it, their pillows from upstairs that already had pillow cases on then lastly a thin sheet. It was still a bit warm downstairs so they didn't want to use a thick blanket. The last thing they wanted was to overheat.

The couple got changed into their pajamas, said good night to each other then laid down and tried to fall asleep. The heat made it a bit difficult but at least it wasn't unbearable like the temperature upstairs. When they were preparing for bed upstairs they could feel the heat and it was quite uncomfortable. Moving around didn't help but even when they were standing still, the two could feel the sweat forming all over their bodies. It was gross. Tomorrow they would definitely think of a way to fix the temperature because they knew they couldn't sleep on the mattress permanently.

The woman seemed fine on the mattress. She got comfortable and tried to sleep but found it difficult. It wasn't just because of the heat but also because of her husband. He kept tossing and turning which caused her to bounce around on the mattress. It didn't bother her at first as she understood how uncomfortable it was but as time went on it became an annoyance. On a regular mattress she wouldn't have bounced around as much.

Some time after she turned to face her husband and kindly asked him to stop. She explained how she couldn't sleep with him moving around so much. He apologized and promised to try and stay still. She thanked him then laid down once more and tried again to fall asleep. At first, all seemed to be fine but when her husband thought that she had fallen asleep he began to toss and turn again.

She was still awake due to the heat and sighed in annoyance when she was bounced around on the mattress. Her husband moved around too much for her liking and made it impossible for her to sleep. Once again she asked him to stop moving but this time he protested. He said that it was difficult for him to fall asleep and that he couldn't help it. His wife explained how it was hard for her too but she was being considerate and did her best to remain as still as possible. She said how she was doing it for him and that he should try considering her feelings too.

Her husband claimed that he was and that he always considered her feelings but that particular night was challenging for him. He just couldn't get comfortable no matter what he did. His wife said that if he stayed in place for more than two seconds then perhaps he would find a comfortable position. Her comment irritated him. He said that he couldn’t stay still because the temperature was just too uncomfortable and that the air mattress didn’t help.

His wife sighed and shook her head. She muttered to herself how inconsiderate her husband was then told him that if she could stay still then so could he. That comment made something shift in him. It got to him. He felt more than an annoyance but it wasn’t quite rage. He couldn’t explain it. He just knew that he really didn’t like the way she was speaking to him. She just dismissed how he felt. It wasn’t fair. To him, she had done it so many times in that past that he was just sick of it. She always did this and he wanted her to stop.

Fed up, he pushed the sheet aside and got up from the mattress. His wife looked up at him and asked him where he was going. This only fueled his anger and he grumpily told her that he was going to the bathroom, not that it was any of her business. She couldn’t believe his attitude but was too tired to deal with him. She just rolled her eyes and turned back over in bed. Now that her husband wasn’t moving around, she had an easier time drifting off. Her eyes grew heavy and she could feel sleep beginning to consume her. Hopefully she would nod off before her husband returned.

He returned a short while later and it sounded as if he had gone to the basement. That was a bit odd but the woman didn’t think much of it. She assumed that her husband had forgotten something down there or just went down to try and cool off.

When he returned to the living room, the man approached the mattress and at first, his wife thought he was about to get back into bed but she never felt a dip in the mattress. Instead, her husband’s footsteps stopped just at the edge of the mattress. She thought nothing of it. Maybe he was looking at something outside of the window or thinking about grabbing a snack. She continued to lie there with her eyes closed but she was jerked awake at a sudden and intense pain located on her head.

She screamed and sat up in bed. She looked up at her husband but due to the darkness, all she could see was his silhouette. In one hand she saw something that looked like a hammer. They had one in the basement. Her eyes widened in terror when she realized what was going on. He had gone to the basement to retrieve the hammer and the pain she felt was caused when the hammer was brought down on her.

She scrambled to get off the mattress and get away from her husband but he was quick. He brought the hammer back down on her head. Each hit caused even more pain than the last. Her head was pounding from the pain and she felt dizzy. It felt like she had the world’s worst migraine.

She pleaded with her husband to stop. She asked why he was doing this. What had she done to deserve this? What caused him to attack? He didn’t respond at first but eventually said that he had enough of her belittling him. He was sick and tired of it and wanted her to stop. He told her that he felt like he had no choice and that she had to shut up.

He continued beating her and she continued to try and escape despite the pain. Her instinct told her to run but all she could do was slowly crawl along the floor. She cried out with each blow.

Her husband tried to aim for her head to give her a quick death but some missed and hit her torso. When he saw that the hammer didn’t work in killing her, he hit her once more on the head then left the living room and went to the kitchen. He slightly stumbled in the dark but didn’t turn the light on. He wasn’t sure how much strength his wife still had so he didn’t want to make it easy for her to escape by turning on the lights.

In the kitchen, he went over to where they kept the knife and pulled out the biggest one he could find. The moonlight provided just enough light to find it and once he picked it up, he made his way back to the living room. His wife was still trying to crawl away and when he approached her, she weakly lifted her head and once again, begged him to spare her. Her husband said nothing and began to stab her.

She cried out in pain when she felt the blade of the knife pierce her back. She felt her blood gush from the wound when the blade was pulled from her. She pleaded with her husband. Begged for her life. She promised that she wouldn’t press charges on him if he spared her but nothing stopped him. He wasn’t about to stop. Not until she was dead.

He stabbed her again, this time he used so much force that the knife stuck in her back. He found it difficult to pull out so he left it. She was on the brink of death but still alive so he picked up the hammer and began hitting her head again. He continued until her body went limp. He was convinced that she was now dead. The screaming had stopped and it didn’t appear as if she was breathing anymore.

Her name was Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien and she was 42 years old.

AFTERMATH

After killing Christa, 47 year old Mark Steele-Knudslien had taken a shower and cleaned the blood off himself. Afterwards he went to a nearby liquor store and bought some alcohol. Upon returning home he attempted to clean up the crime scene.

He gathered some tarp which he wrapped around Christa and the murder weapons. He then set to work trying to clean up the blood with paper towels. He moved the tarp to the basement then left the home once more.

This time he traveled south to the Adams police station. Articles said that Mark walked into the station at around 9:09 P.M on Friday the 5th of January, 2018. He asked to speak with an officer and one went to talk to him. Mark told the officer that he had “done something bad” and that he “should be put in handcuffs”. He explained how he killed his wife.

At 9:02 P.M the Adams police contacted the North Adams Police and informed them of the homicide that occurred at 107 Veazie Street. 25 minutes later at 9:27, police arrived on scene and stayed there for the rest of the night.

The Adams Police Department held Mark Steele-Knudslien overnight and the next morning on Saturday the 6th of January, he was taken to Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction where he was held without bail.

On Monday the 7th of January, Mark was arraigned on one count of first-degree murder where he pleaded not guilty.

On Thursday the 16th of January, 2020 Mark Steele-Knudslien pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.He was sentenced by Judge John Agostini to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years.

IN LIFE

Christa was the founder of the Miss Trans America Pageant, the founder and CEO of the Miss Trans New England Pageant and helped to organize New England’s first Trans Pride march in 2008. She was very active in the trans community when it came to activism.

One of her friends, Justin Adkins had told the Associated Press that “[Christa’s] thing was always that transgender women are beautiful and need a venue for trans women to be seen as beautiful”.

She is believed to have been the first transgender person to have been killed in the year 2018. Before she died, she posted on Facebook: “My husband and I are going to try to work things out” in 2017 which hinted at troubles in their relationship.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien is the First Known Transgender Woman Killed in 2018”. HRC staff. Human Rights Campaign, 8 January 2018, https://www.hrc.org/blog/christa-leigh-steele-knudslien-is-the-first-known-transgender-woman-killed.

  2. Founder of Miss Trans America pageant is 'stabbed and beaten to death by her husband inside her Massachusetts home after he snapped'”. The Associated Press. Daily Mail, 8 January 2018, updated 24 January 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5248387/Husband-charged-killing-transgender-pageant-founder.html.

  3. HE 'SNAPPED': Miss Trans America Pageant founder allegedly murdered by husband”. Radar Online. Calgary Herald, 10 January 2018, https://calgaryherald.com/news/crime/he-snapped-miss-trans-america-pageant-founder-allegedly-murdered-by-husband.

  4. Husband charged with grisly killing of transgender pageant founder”. John Paul Brammer. NBC News, 12 January 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/husband-charged-grisly-killing-transgender-pageant-founder-n836066.

  5. Husband of transgender activist Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien admits to her murder; sentenced to life in prison”. Patrick Johnson. MassLive, 23 January 2020, https://www.masslive.com/police-fire/2020/01/husband-of-transgender-activist-christa-leigh-steele-knudslien-admits-to-her-murder-sentenced-to-life-in-prison.html.

  6. Husband sentenced to life in prison for killing transgender wife in North Adams”. Nancy Asiamah. WWLP-22News, 23 January 2020, updated 24 January 2020, https://www.wwlp.com/news/local-news/berkshire-county/husband-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-for-killing-transgender-wife-in-north-adams/.

  7. Husband told police he 'snapped' before killing Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, founder of Miss Trans America”. Dan Glaun. MassLive, 8 January 2018, updated 30 January 2019, https://www.masslive.com/news/2018/01/husband_told_police_he_snapped.html.

  8. Massachusetts man admits to killing wife, a prominent transgender activist, by stabbing, hitting her with hammer”. Muri Assunção. New York Daily News, 24 January 2020, https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/ny-husband-trans-activist-christa-steele-knudslien-admits-killing-jail-20200124-dav72nqznnezrd5urxn3aot2j4-story.html.

  9. Miss Trans America founder beaten, stabbed to death in her home”. The Associated Press. CBS News, 10 January 2018, updated 11 January 2018, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/miss-trans-america-founder-beaten-stabbed-to-death-in-her-home/.

  10. Miss Trans America Founder Is The First Known Transgender Person Killed This Year”. Curtis M. Wong. Huffington Post, 9 January 2018, updated 12 January 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/christa-leigh-steele-knudslien-transgender-murder_n_5a5543a0e4b0d614e48a9f39?ri18n=true.

  11. Miss Trans America founder murdered at home – husband arrested”. David Hudson. Gay Star News, 8 January 2018, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/steele-knudslien-trans-murder/.

  12. Miss Trans America founder’s husband charged with her murder”. Mariah Cooper. Los Angeles Blade, 9 January 2018, https://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/01/09/miss-trans-america-founders-husband-charged-murder/.

  13. North Adams man admits killing wife, gets life sentence”. Bob Dunn. Daily Hampshire Gazette, 23 January 2020, https://www.gazettenet.com/Mark-Knudslien-sentenced-32202116.

  14. North Adams man held after allegedly killing his wife”. Haven Orecchio-Egresitz. The Berkshire Eagle, 6 January 2018, https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/north-adams-man-held-after-allegedly-killing-his-wife,528865.

  15. Number 1- Rest In Power, Christa”. Monica Roberts. Blogspot, 6 January 2018, https://transgriot.blogspot.com/2018/01/number-1-rest-in-power-christa.html.

  16. The death of a North Adams woman has been ruled a homicide”. Frederick A. Lantz. Mass.gov, 7 January 2018, https://www.mass.gov/news/the-death-of-a-north-adams-woman-has-been-ruled-a-homicide.

  17. Woman who founded trans beauty pageants becomes first known trans person killed in America this year”. Emily Shugerman. Independent, 10 January 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/transgender-woman-killed-first-2018-christa-leigh-steele-knudslien-beauty-pageants-a8152226.html.

Images

  1. Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien. NBC News, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/husband-charged-grisly-killing-transgender-pageant-founder-n836066.

Day 19: Maurice Mjomba

Photo from Maurice’s Facebook

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, brutality, a beating, rape, forcable sodomy, strangling, alleged homophobic hate crime, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This incident happened back in 2012 but information is limited. There have been no reports of any arrests and the case appears to remain unsolved.

It was getting late in the day on the 27th of July, 2012 in the city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A young man had just finished his work for the day. He said goodbye to his friends and colleagues before packing up his things and headed home. He didn’t live too far away from where he worked so the trip home wasn’t very long.

When the man arrived home he went straight for the kitchen and grabbed himself a drink. As he took some sips of his drink, he browsed through his fridge to see what he would have for dinner. He had quite a few ingredients so there were a variety of meals he could make. He debated on what he could make. He wasn’t too sure what he was in the mood for that evening. One potential meal he was thinking about was one he had recently so he decided to cook something else. It was always nice to change it up.

He looked at the time and saw that it was still a little early to start dinner and he wasn’t particularly hungry at the time. He thought about it and decided to wait for an hour or two before he started to cook. It would be a bit later than most people would begin dinner but he lived alone so he was able to eat whenever he wanted.

He closed his fridge and left the kitchen with his drink in hand. He went over to the living room and sat down on the couch. He set his drink down on the coffee table then picked up a book that was on a side table. It had taken him a lot longer to finish it than he would have liked but his work was more important than finishing a book. He loved his work. He loved being able to help others although he was more of a quiet person. While other people were out in the frontlines and really fighting for a change he was happy to help quietly in the background. His work was just as important as people who protested out on the streets.

As he flipped through the book, a group of men approached his house. They were dressed in dark clothes and wore masks which covered their faces. They looked around the area and when they were sure that no one had seen them, they kicked in the door and stormed in the house. The young man was startled when he heard his front door bang against a wall and jumped from his seat. His book fell to the ground and his drink tipped over when his knee hit the coffee table. The cup fell to the ground and the liquid spilled on the surface of the table and dripped to the floor.

The men heard the drink fall and located the room where the sound had come from. They rushed in and surrounded the man who was so shocked that he wasn’t sure what to do. He was going to defend himself but there was nothing in his reach that could have been used as a weapon and there was no place for him to run or hide.

He was trapped in his living room surrounded by a group of masked strangers.

He asked what they wanted but no one responded to his question. He was frightened and held his hands up to show that he meant no harm. He pleaded for them to spare his life and told them they could take whatever they wanted. He even pointed out where his more expensive items were in the house in hopes that the group would take them and spare his life. He even said that he wouldn’t call the police and report them. He would do anything if they just spared him.

However, that wasn’t what the men had in mind. They told the young man that they hadn’t come there to rob him. He gulped nervously and looked at the one who seemed to be in charge. He asked them why they were in his house if they weren’t there to rob him.

One of the men smirked under his mask and pulled out some rope from the bag he had slung around his shoulder. Nothing was said on their end as the man approached the frightened young man with the rope in hand. The young man backed away as far as he could before the back of his legs hit the couch and he fell down on it. He looked up at the man with the rope and pleaded for him to spare him. He wouldn’t do anything. He wouldn’t call the cops. He’d do anything they wanted.

The man said nothing and grabbed one of his arms in a tight grasp. It hurt the young man but he didn’t dare say anything. He was too scared to say anything. He didn’t know why these men had broken into his home and he was afraid to find out. He sat back without a fuss as the man tied up both of his hands. After the knots were secure, another man walked over and slapped a strip of tape over his mouth then another over his nose.

Now the young man started to panic. It was difficult to breathe with the tape over his nose and he struggled to free himself but the men didn’t like that. They demanded that he stop struggling. One of the men had no tolerance for the struggling and began hitting the young man but that wasn’t enough to make him stop. He continued to free his hands but the knots were secure. He then tried to lift his hands to his face to see if he could take the tape off himself but the men didn’t let him. They grabbed his arms and forced them back down. The more he struggled, the more beatings he had received but still he fought back.

One of the men demanded that he stop but that made him fight back even more. He wanted to scream out no and for the men to let him go but the tape muffled his voice.

By this point the group of men were fed up with their victim. They didn’t expect this much resistance from him and it was annoying. They all turned to each other and nodded in silent agreement. They would move on with the next part of the plan they had agreed to before they arrived.

Two of the men grabbed the young man by his upper arms and slightly lifted him from the couch while another ripped off his pants. He screamed under the tape and tried to kick the person but it didn’t work. They scrunched his pants around his ankles which acted like a makeshift rope. It prevented him from kicking his attackers which was his only method of defense.

Panic filled him when he realized that there was no hope of fighting back. He feared what was to come. He didn’t know what their motive for the attack was but he did know what was going to happen to him. All he could do was sit and let it happen. There was nothing he could do. The men had surprised him and overpowered him. They had the upper hand.

Tears streamed down his face as the men attacked him. He was beaten repeatedly with tools the men had brought with them. They had come prepared. It was terrifying.

With each blow he sustained, pain pulsed through his head and chest. Pain shot through his entire body when the men forcibly sodomized him. It was unimaginable. He screamed but the tape over his nose and mouth muted the sounds. No one would have been able to hear him. His neighbours were unaware of what was happening. He knew that he was most likely going to die there.

As the attack continued, he accepted his fate. He stopped struggling. No matter what he did, nothing worked. He wanted to live. He didn’t want to die like that but there was nothing he could do about it. As hard as it was for him, he gave in and accepted his fate. He came to terms with the fact that he was going to die when the men felt like they had done enough.

It felt like ages passed but soon the young man felt the life leaving him. He was fading in and out of consciousness. He couldn’t focus on his surroundings and he could barely hear the men as they taunted him. He was in so much pain that he barely felt it anymore. In fact, he couldn’t feel anything. Everywhere hurt.

The men then pulled out yet another rope but this one was thicker than the one used to tie the young man’s hands together. This one was wrapped around his neck and one man pulled as tightly as he could. The young man felt a burning sensation on the skin of his neck as the rough rope tightened around him.

Breathing was already difficult with the tape over his nose and mouth but now it was almost impossible. His lungs burned as they screamed for oxygen. Out of instinct he raised his hands up to his neck and did his best to claw at the rope but it did nothing. The man who was holding the rope just tightened it and held it in place until the young man stopped moving entirely. He slumped back on the couch and closed his eyes for the last time.

His name was Maurice Mjomba and he was only 29 years old.

AFTERMATH

The exact day and time that Maurice died hasn’t been determined or published online. It has been estimated that he died somewhere between the 27th and 28th of July. One source even said that he most likely died on the morning of Saturday the 28th of July.

His body was discovered on the 30th when neighbours called the police and reported a smell coming from his home. When the police entered they found his decomposing body slouched on his couch with tape covering his nose and mouth, his hands tied together and signs of strangulation. There were even reports of blood emanating from his genitals and anus.

Even after all these years, there has been little media coverage and nothing that mentions arrests of the perpetrator(s).

IN LIFE

Mjomba worked as a training coordinator at the Centre for Human Rights Promotion (CHRP), a human rights activist, a sexual health educator and was a founding member of an organization called Stay Awake Network Activities (SANA).

Stay Awake Network Activities (SANA) is an organization which deals with sexual health awareness in Tanzania for men who have sex with other men. Not only was he one of the founding members but he also worked as an assistant secretary and an executive committee member.

He wanted to fight discrimination against people who had HIV/AIDS and wanted to provide services to help intravenous drug users.

People who knew him in life said that he was hard-working, diligent and an honest person. A person who worked with him known as Pade described Maurice as “a kind, sincere and an open minded person. He was always ready to help others at all times and he would take time to see things are done accordingly and provide solutions”. Pade also said that Maurice has never wanted to be in the forefront when it came to activism. He would work in the background and “when you fall he would catch you. He was a thinker too!”

SOURCES

Articles

  1. ACTIVIST LAID TO REST AS DETAILS OF MURDER SURFACE”. Staff Writer. Mamba Online, 1 August 2012, https://www.mambaonline.com/2012/08/01/activist-laid-to-rest-as-details-of-murder-surface/.

  2. Dead Tanzania gay activist was found bound, gagged and beaten”. Tris Reid-Smith. Gay Star News, 2 August 2012, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/dead-tanzania-gay-activist-was-found-bound-gagged-and-beaten020812/.

  3. Gay Rights Activist Murdered”. Gay Agenda, 31 July 2012, https://gayagenda.com/african-gay-rights-activist-found-murdered/.

  4. Maurice Mjomba”. Human Rights Defenders Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/hrdrecord/maurice-mjomba/.

  5. maurice mjomba”. Ubuntu Biography Project, 10 October 2017, https://ubuntubiographyproject.com/2017/10/10/maurice-mjomba/.

  6. REPORT: TANZANIAN LGBT ACTIVIST STRANGLED”. Staff Writer. Mamba Online, 30 July 2012, https://www.mambaonline.com/2012/07/30/report-tanzanian-lgbt-activist-strangled/.

  7. Tanzania gay rights activist found dead”. Heather Cassell. The Bay Area Reporter, 1 August 2012, https://www.ebar.com/news///242754.

  8. Tanzania: Gay rights activist found dead”. Stephen Gray. Pink News, 30 July 2012, https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/07/30/tanzania-gay-rights-activist-found-dead/.

  9. Tanzania LGBT rights activist found dead”. Dan Littauer. Gay Star News, 30 July 2012, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/tanzania-lgbt-rights-activist-found-dead300712/.

  10. TANZANIA: LGBT Rights Activist Killed, Hate Crime Suspected”. Rod. ROD Online, 30 July 2012, https://rodonline.typepad.com/rodonline/2012/07/tanzania-lgbt-rights-activist-found-dead-foul-play-suspected.html.

  11. Tanzanian AIDS Activist Brutally Murdered, Body Found In Home”. Dan Avery. Queerty, 6 August 2012, https://www.queerty.com/tanzanian-aids-activist-brutally-murdered-body-found-in-home-20120806/amp.

  12. Tanzanie: un activiste gay retrouvé mort à son domicile”. Fabien Carlat. Komitid, 31 July 2012, https://www.komitid.fr/2012/07/31/tanzanie-un-activiste-gay-retrouve-mort-a-son-domicile/.

  13. Tanzanie : Un gay retrouvé mort à son domicile”. Afriqu Infos, 31 July 2012, https://afriquinfos.com/afrique-de-lest/tanzanie/tanzanie-retrouve-mort-domicile-207453/.

  14. UPDATE: Tanzanian activist’s body was bound, gagged, beaten”. Natasha Barsotti. Daily Xtra, 2 August 2012. https://www.dailyxtra.com/update-tanzanian-activists-body-was-bound-gagged-beaten-29437.

  15. 2013 ANNUAL REPORT: Global Trends in 2012 for human rights defenders”. Front Line Defenders, 2013, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/file/1837/download?token=RQ2HdbT0. (Direct Download Link)

Image

  1. Maurice Mjomba. Facebook, 19 January 2012, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=104979169625118&set=pb.100003391060916.-2207520000..&type=3&theater.

Day 2: Brian Wasswa

Photo from Human Rights Watch

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions brutality, human cruelty, stabbing, serious injuries, and head injuries.

Please continue with caution.


The second story of the month caused a stir in Uganda, the country where Brian Wasswa lived when news spread of his attack then death in early October of 2019.

The hour was approaching 5 P.M in the early evening and during this time a group of children were out playing together. They were enjoying the remainder of the sunlight before dinner time. Their laughter could be heard all around and this brought smiles to the adults. It was nice to see them enjoying themselves and making memories with friends. The laughter of the children echoed throughout the neighbourhood.

They ran around chasing each other in a game of tag. When a kid became “it” they would scream with laughter and attempt to tag someone else. This game continued and brought the kids to different areas of their neighbourhood. They passed many homes and did their best to dodge other people who were walking around. Eventually they made their way to a fenced in compound made up of multiple homes. The place was quiet. Almost too quiet but the children didn’t notice it as the sounds of their laughter replaced the silence.

They ran after each other as they continued their game until one child paused. They halted in their tracks and this drew the attention of their friends. The laughter died down and the children gathered around the one who had stopped. They asked what was wrong and watched as the child lifted an arm and pointed to a nearby house in response. The group all turned their heads to see what had caught their friend's attention.

They noticed that one of the homes on the compound stood out from the rest. It just took a simple glance to notice that. While it looked just like every other building that surrounded it, this home stood apart because the front door was wide open which was an unusual sight when the owner was nowhere to be seen.

Curiosity overcame the children. For some reason they were compelled to investigate. They didn’t know why. They thought of it as a sort of adventure so they all approached the house. One kid who was the bravest of the bunch poked their head inside and looked around. The child didn’t see anything odd so they took the first step inside. Now they were starting to gain more courage and the other children followed.

When they were all inside they began to take a closer look at their new surroundings. It was a regular house. It looked similar to their homes but it was different. It had an eerie silence to it. They couldn’t explain how this silence was different than normal but it was. It nearly sent chills up their spines. One kid didn’t like it and urged their friends to leave but the one who had entered first ignored the kid. They wanted to explore so they urged everyone to follow their lead.

The children made their way from room to room looking to see if the home’s occupants were inside. With each new room they came across with no sight of a person the dread continued to build up inside them. Something was not right about this place. If there was no one here then why had the front door been left open? What happened to the people who lived in the house? Were they still in there or did they leave? The children soon found an answer to their questions but it wasn’t one any of them were expecting.

In the very last room that the children had checked they were confronted with a gruesome sight.

Lying on the floor was the body of a young man who was unconscious but not from falling asleep or being drunk. No. He was unconscious due to the trauma sustained to his head and a pool of blood had formed under his body. He had been brutally beaten and left to die by his attacker or attackers. The trauma that he had sustained looked so great that it was hard to believe that he was still alive.

Upon seeing this, the children burst out screaming and ran from the house as fast as they could. Their screams caught the attention of nearby adults who the kids ran to for comfort. Some of the children were crying while others just screamed and panicked. However, despite their panic, the children were able to inform the adults of the sight they had witnessed in the house and pointed it out to the worried adults.

Some of the adults were quick to respond and rushed into the room where the man’s body was located while others stayed behind with the children and tried to calm them down. There was a moment of shock when they saw the condition the man was in but they quickly overcame it and jumped into action. One person went to see what state the man was in while others rushed to get medical help.

An ambulance was called and directed to the house of a 28 year old man named Brian Wasswa. He was an activist for the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda and was a part of it himself as he was openly gay and identified as a gender nonconforming person. Sometimes he had even referred to himself as being transgender.

When the ambulance arrived the EMTs went into the house where they stabilized Brian before loading him into the vehicle. He had horrific injuries on his head that were caused by some sort of sharp object but what that was, the EMTs couldn’t tell. There was just so much damage. All they could do was treat the injuries to their best of their abilities until they reached the Jinja Regional Referral Hospital or as the locals called it, the Jinja Hospital. Once there, Brian was unloaded from the back of the ambulance and rushed inside where doctors were waiting for him.

Many of them were no stranger to serious injuries and had seen many things through the course of their careers but nothing could have prepared them for this. There were roughly ten gashes on Brian’s head that were deep and had done extensive damage. The doctors and nurses all did their best to treat Brian but his injuries proved to be too severe for them. He didn’t respond to anything they did and on top of that, they lacked the proper equipment needed to treat him. They were just a local hospital. They were small and lacked the more sophisticated equipment that could be found in bigger hospitals.

They did what they could to keep him stable and comfortable but the following day on the 5th of October, colleagues of Brian’s from HRAPF (Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum) had seen that he wasn’t responding and decided that he needed to be moved to a larger hospital immediately if there was any chance for him to be saved.

When they had learned what happened to Brian they were shocked. They couldn’t believe that something so horrible could have happened to someone they worked with. Just yesterday he had been fine but now he was barely conscious and was fighting for his life. However, under the circumstances in the country, this type of thing wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities but that didn’t make the whole experience any less painful for them.

The request for the patient transfer was granted and Brian would be sent to Mulago Hospital located in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. It was an hour long drive so the doctors rushed to send Brian on his way so the doctors at Mulago could have a chance of saving him. The sooner he reached the hospital, the better. They had no time to waste so the moment the transfer request had been granted he was loaded into another ambulance and they departed for the capital. However, during the drive, Brian’s injuries proved to be too much.There had just been too much damage.

Brian died before they reached the Mulago Hospital.

After his death, the Jinja’s Central Police Station opened up an investigation and looked into the murder. They found that the weapon that had been used on Brian was a short-handled gardening hoe which was discovered in his home. They also interviewed witnesses who told them that they had seen another man in Brian’s home hours before the children had discovered him but beyond that, there wasn’t much progress.

Whoever that man was, he continues to remain unknown and unpunished.

AFTERMATH

According to Edward Mwebaza, the deputy executive director of HRAPF, the murder of Brian Wasswa had been the fourth LGBTQ+ related murder in the past three months. These murders were a result of rising tensions between the nation and its LGBTQ+ citizens.

All of the attacks on LGBTQ+ people in Uganda have been fueled by stigma, fear and discrimination that has corrupted many Ugandans. It doesn’t help matters when Elly Tumwine, the Minister for Security General had claimed that the LGBTQ+ community were “terrorists” which aided in fueling the people to attack members of the community and those who support them.

On the 10th of October, five days after Brian’s death, Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity, Simon Lokodo began to talk about reigniting a bill called the Anti-Homosexuality law, which is more commonly refered to as the “kill the gays bill”. This bill was made to make homosexuality punishable by death instead of a life sentence in prison. It was first introduced in 2009 by David Bahati who was then a member of the parliament but fell through in 2014 after it was deemed invalid by the constitutional court of Uganda.

Simon Lokodo had also made claims that this bill was supported by the president, Yoweri Museveni but this was later denied by the president’s spokesperson in a statement to the public who said that they had no plans of re-introducing it

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Amid 'Kill the Gays' bill uproar, Ugandan LGBTQ activist is killed”. Tim Fitzsimons. NBC News, 16 October 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/amid-kill-gays-bill-uproar-ugandan-lgbtq-activist-killed-n1067336.

  2. Gays in Uganda Face Wave of Violence as Official Threatens to Resurrect Homosexual Death Penalty Bill”. Sophie Neiman. The Indypendent, 28 October 2019, https://indypendent.org/2019/10/gays-in-uganda-face-wave-of-violence-as-official-threatens-to-resurrect-homosexual-death-penalty-bill/.

  3. Uganda: Brutal Killing of Gay Activist”. Human Rights Watch, 15 October 2019, https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/10/15/uganda-brutal-killing-gay-activist.

  4. UGANDA MUST NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE TOWARDS THE LGBTI COMMUNITY”. Posted by Admin. Sexual Minorities Uganda, 8 October 2019, https://sexualminoritiesuganda.com/uganda-must-not-condone-violence-towards-the-lgbti-community/.

  5. Uganda’s Government Must Investigate Killing of LGBTQ+ Activist, Says Human Rights Watch”. Lerato Mogoatlhe. 21 October 2019, https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/uganda-lgbtq-brian-wasswa-killing-HRW/.

  6. Ugandan LGBTIQ+ activist murdered amid calls to revive death penalty for gay sex”. Nick Baker. SBS News, 17 October 2019, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/ugandan-lgbtiq-activist-murdered-amid-calls-to-revive-death-penalty-for-gay-sex.

Images

  1. Relatives of Brian Wasswa carry his coffin during his funeral. Posted by Human Rights Watch, 15 October 2019, taken on 6 October 2019, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/multimedia_images_2019/201910lgbt_uganda_violence.jpg.

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