Help Youth on Rock Find a Home and a Safe house
by Melanie Nathan, January 27, 2013.
I reported the unlawful arrest of a young leader from the human rights group in Uganda, Youth on Rock Foundation (YRF), around New Year’s Eve, after the break in at SMUG’s offices, where computers containing sensitive information were stolen. A few days later another Youth on Rock member was arrested after police recognized him visiting the detainee, as being a Facebook friend. This led to a spiral of event resulting in the young group losing their safe house and security. The young warriors will not give up their quest to serve as LGBTI human rights defenders to the youth in Uganda and so have launched their own BLOG site with a quest to find funding to continue their battle to survive.
The importance of providing support cannot be understated. If the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passes, such arrests could become legal under Ugandan law, unless the Courts find the law to be unconstituional. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is positioned in Parliament to possibly be heard as early as February o4, when Parliament reconvenes. Whichever way this goes, Youth on Rock needs your support now, as it must help those who are in need now to find safety and position itself to handle the influx of LGBTI people who will need their help even more if the Bill passes.
This is a cross post of their first posting:
2012 was year of a lot of hard work, struggles, proud achievements and great loss for us. For most of the year we worked continuously on our “Stop the Hate” campaign together with our sisters at FARUG. We combated hate and prejudice and increased knowledge and compassion in our neighborhoods through peer education and volunteer community work.
In October our landlord was ordered to evict us immediately, and we lost of our offices. The situation continued to intensify. On December 26th the offices of Sexual Minorities Uganda were broken into and vandalized – for the second time.
Then on New Year’s Eve, our founder Kawesi Joseph was unlawfully arrested and jailed for homosexuality and “recruitment of youth to homosexuality”. This even though the Kill the Gays bill, which stipulates such a charge, has yet to be voted on by Parliament.
The next day another member was arrested while visiting him in jail, along with two other boys accused of homosexuality. They were only released after much work by human rights defenders from SMUG and EHAHRDP. Since then they have had to stay in different places, receiving phone calls with death threats and harassment by police.
With this latest escalation of persecution, threats and violence against us we believe our work is more important than ever. While these times are dangerous, we also know that we have the attention and support of people all over the world.
We have created this blog to be able to reach out to you.
Since October, none of us have regular access to either computers or internet. We will update sporadically for now, or communicate via volunteer allies in other countries. But once we are up and running again we will tell the world our stories.
One of our friends in Sweden is working on starting a sister/solidarity organization for foreigners who want to support our work, financially, technically and/or morally.
Please contact her if you are interested at suzzel [at] gmail [dot] com.
As this will take time and the situation is urgent, for now she is privately collecting funds for our new office / safehouse via Fundrazr. Please consider donating any amount you can towards this.
ABOUT: The Youth on Rock Foundation is a community organization run by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) youth. They live and work in Kampala’s poorest district – and work with the grassroots “because we are the grassroots.” Their mission is both to support young people here who are at risk, and to sensitize and educate our greater community about LGBTI people and our rights.
Because of this work they face tremendous harassment and increasing interruptions. Their offices were shut down by local authorities. By the beginning of 2013 two of their leaders had been unlawfully held in jail for several days, on homosexuality and “recruitment to homosexuality” charges, all of which were illegal under current Ugandan law.
They are still looking to secure new, safe premises from which to continue their work, and where people can also stay when in danger. “With the very real possibility of the Kill the Gays bill being signed this session, community outreach is more urgent than ever. We are therefor now collecting donations from both the public and larger NGO’s. To help us get back to work, please visit our friend and ally Suzanne’s Fundrazr page to donate.”
We are also on Facebook.
By Melanie Nathan