EVERYONE GROUP’S CAMPAIGN FOR THE LIFE OF THE GAY MAN JOHN BOSCO NYOMBI
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REFUGEES/UNITED KINGDOM: EUROPE MUST SAVE JOHN BOSCO NYOMBI, A UGANDAN GAY MAN PERSECUTED
A BRITISH COURT JUDGE HAS FORBIDDEN THE CIRCULATION OF HIS NAME, TO AVOID FURTHER PUBLICITY ON THE CASE. “EVERYONE GROUP’ PROTESTS: “ONLY TOTALITARIAN REGIMES CANCEL OUT THE IDENTITIES OF PERSECUTED PEOPLE. TO ACT AGAINST ABUSE, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT INTERNATIONAL OPINION KNOWS THE REFUGEES’ NAMES”
Tuesday, march 31st, 2009
John Bosco Nyombi, aged 38, is a Ugandan homosexual who first arrived in the UK in September 2001 to apply for refugee status after escaping from his own country. It is common knowledge that in Uganda homosexuals face death or life sentences if arrested by the authorities, but also mistreatment, torture, illicit detention and assault from national security forces and homophobic groups. Until September 2008, John worked for the Stonham association in contact with disabled people, some of them mentally ill; a model citizen perfectly integrated into British society. He had signed regularly at a police station for years, and nobody thought he would be kicked out of his new homeland and sent back to a country where he was persecuted and where his safety was at serious risk. Instead, on September 14th, 2008, he was deported from the United Kingdom and sent on a flight back to Uganda, after being taken by the police from his home to the Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre, near Gatwick airport. All this without any possibility of appeal against the decision – which came after 7 years – within 72 hours from the deportation notice, as laid down by the internal laws. According to the Home Office, John Bosco Nyombi should not face retaliation, again according to the “being discreet” theory – which had already appeared in the past in the case of the Iranian gay Mehdi Kazemi –, that is a recommendation to be discreet in living his homosexuality back in his homeland.
“Yet no opportunity was given to Mr. Nyombi to pack a bag, to say goodbye to his friends, to give him time to think about being forced to leave the country he had settled down in for many years”, explain EveryOne Group’s leaders Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau. “He was deceived into thinking he was being taken from the removal centre for an interview with an immigration officer. Instead, without warning, he was taken in a van by four security men to a plane. When he resisted leaving the van he was handcuffed, punched in his private parts to make him straighten his legs so they could be belted together. He was then lifted onto the plane and flown out of the country. At his arrival in Kampala, John Bosco Nyombi was arrested in the airport and taken to a cell, where he remained for several days suffering the Ugandan prison guards’ hostility and brutal violence.
“There were 156 people sitting on the floor in one cell with no mats, no blankets and no running water. It was awful” declared John some days ago to a journalist of “The Pink Paper”.
In February 2009, Judge George Newman said the refugee’s removal operated by the Border Immigration Agency was a mistake, ordering the Home Office Secretary Jacqui Smith to “use her best endeavors to bring John Bosco Nyombi back in UK” and to allow him to seek legal advice before his removal.
And this is what happened. On March 6th, Mr. Nyombi got off the plane at Gatwick airport and after a short permanence at the Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre was allowed to return home, on the South Coast. Despite all this, he still faces deportation to Kampala, in Uganda. His flight may be scheduled for the next few days.
“The paradox of the entire event”, continue Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau, “is that the same judge has officially forbidden the circulation of John Bosco Nyombi’s name, to avoid further publicity surrounding his case. The website www.savebosco.net, that contained the petition to save Mr. Nyombi from deportation, has been removed. According to the judge, Mr. Nyombi should be indicated as “Mister X”. This with the far-fetched pretext of protecting him from repression in the event of him being deported for a second time to Uganda. “We must remember” continue the activists “that John Bosco Nyombi’s case has recently generated a lot of interest in the mass-media, starting with BBC television, who made a film report with photographs and personal information, telling his entire story (still available on YouTube). This veto”, claim the representatives of EveryOne Group, “is nothing more than blackmail that violates refugees’ rights and puts unjustified pressures on Human Rights activists who have the duty, at the moment they find out about the case, to denounce the abuse being perpetrated against a specific person. The person’s name is the principal reference for Human Rights organizations to denounce persecution and to allow the institutions to evaluate the immigration offices’ and, in general, the judge’s decisions. Attempting to ban its circulation”, say the activists, “mean denying, as in Apartheid and slavery, a fundamental right. In this way, a person becomes isolated, he becomes an anonymous figure, a common Mister X or a number and is cancelled out, as happened in the Nazi concentration camps and in the present day jails of fundamentalist Islamic countries.
EveryOne Group is appealing to the institutions and the organisms of the European Union to intervene. Already, in the past, they have demonstrated – in the cases of the Iranian homosexuals Pegah Emambakhsh and Mehdi Kazemi – to be prepared to save human lives, with resolutions and recommendations from the European Parliament and the EU Council, as well as with the intervention of MEPs, like the Italian Radicals Marco Pannella and Marco Cappato, the president of the Liberal group Graham Watson, several British MPs and all the members of the LGBT intergroup at the EU Parliament.
Uganda is a high-risk country for a homosexual: gays and lesbians are hunted down, obliged to hide their identities and their relationships; if caught, they are arrested and illegally detained, condemned for “sodomy”, sometimes to life sentences, and often seriously beaten up by police and fanatic groups. Very often these assaults turn to murder. Newspapers, like the famous “Red Pepper”, are used to publish the names, photos, professions and sometimes even the home addresses of gay and lesbian people, leading to witch hunts but most of all to cases of brutal discrimination and violence against innocent and helpless people. Activists of LGBT associations and organizations are subjected to intimidation from the local authorities, threats to their lives or arrested under false pretences. Private radio stations that broadcast programs on HIV prevention have been fined.
“In July 2005”, continues ‘EveryOne’ (who in the next few days will be sending a report on the condition of gays and lesbians in Uganda to the British and European Institutions and authorities), “the Ugandan Parliament passed an amendment to the constitution making Uganda the second country in the world to use its constitution to outlaw marriage between people of the same sex. A coalition of religious leaders has marched through the streets of Kampala demanding the arrests of LGBT people, with one cleric even calling for the ‘starving to death’ of homosexuals. Because of these serious circumstances,” concludes the international Human Rights organization, “we are asking for attention to be brought, by the press, but most of all politically and judicially – to the case of John Bosco Nyombi. We are also appealing to the British Ambassador to Italy, Sir Edward Chaplin, to intervene with the UK Government and with the help of the officials Sir Pierluigi Puglia and Sir Christopher Layden – with whom EveryOne Group has an excellent and fruitful relationship – to find a solution to the problem, by asking the British Government to radically reconsider its deportation policies where Uganda is concerned. Uganda is a single-party republic in which every year millions of violations of fundamental rights are perpetrated. This is confirmed in the reports made up by the US State Department’s Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the principal international Human Rights organizations”.
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