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Cameroon police surround gay bar with trucks and arrest every person inside

Cameroon police surround gay bar with trucks and arrest every person inside

Yaounde prison in Cameroon holds many men arrested for being gay

Cameroon police raided a gay bar in Yaoundé, surrounding the site with vans with the intent of arresting every person inside.

At around 2.30am on Sunday morning (9 October), officers began to blockade the Mistral bar in the Essos neighborhood of Yaoundé.

The Mistral does not advertise itself as a gay bar but was widely considered a place where many gay men could feel safe.

After blocking all conceivable entrances and exits with large police vans, two police officers entered the bar at 3am and informed the customers they were all under arrest.

‘People became anxious as they began to think of themselves as hostages,’ a Cameroon gay activist, writing for 76 Crimes under the pseudonym of Erin Royal Brokovitch, said.

‘Police then ordered people to leave the bar and checked for identification cards at the exit. Outside, with or without ID cards, all the bar patrons were ordered onto police trucks.

‘Police patrols were stationed at every corner of the cabaret — in front, beside, inside, behind.

‘As if it were a commando operation, armed police searched inside the bar for people hiding there. Some bar-goers tried to escape out the back, but another police truck was parked there.’

It is unclear the number of people who were arrested at the weekend, but some online reports suggest it was ‘dozens’. The charges are also unknown.

Cameroon is largely considered one of the worst places in the world to be LGBTI. Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon, punished by up to five years in prison. Attitudes to LGBTI people are hostile and there are frequent reports of arrests, mob violence, assaults, torture and murder.