Log-book: August 2006
In front of the Cameroon Embassy Sponsorship of children from Nantes Never again An unforgettable meeting
In front of the Cameroon Embassy
At nightfall, there was a funeral vigil in memory of Alim who had just died from AIDS in Cameroon.
He was one of 9 Cameroonians imprisoned for their homosexuality.
The candles were lit. Upon the gates of the Embassy, large white posters were waiting for our messages. I was invited to start and I wrote: " Alim, your life and your death are an appeal to fight for the right to live and love. "
Released like his friends after being unjustly and unfairly put in jail for 13 months, Alim did not benefit from his new freedom. He died shortly after.
He had no access to medical care. Never did the state prosecutor accept to release him.
He seemed to be getting thinner by the minute, incapable of standing on his legs; the prison authorities left Alim to himself.
His attorney had visited him a few days prior to his death: " He was like a little bird " she said.
Alim wanted to be photographed with her:
" I have nothing left, but I still have my smile. I am sending it to all my friends, everyone who helped me in Cameroon, France or elsewhere. "
We are in front of the Embassy to protest against the homophobia of the Cameroonian authorities.
Sponsorship of children from Nantes
- A republican sponsorship was organized for children attending school with parents not having their residence permit. With the end of the school year, these children were liable to be deported.
There was a massive turnout all over France because children were involved.
- Whatever their origin, they are human beings. Children are sacred. Is it possible to accept the rounding-up of children who live a normal life, are well integrated and who speak our language?
At the Town Hall in Nantes, and in the gardens, the fair was on. They came by hundreds. The organizers had not expected so many people!
A young Kurd was presented to me, Hakan, 6 years of age. He is the one I will sponsor. He is adorable. He followed me wherever I went as if his fate was now tied in to my one. His parents were reassured. For once, they were not afraid.
Now came the time for the official sponsorship. Surrounded by both of his sponsors, Hakan was as proud as he could be sitting on his chair. The public records officer took in our engagement. We declared our intention to help the child and his family to obtain their citizenship.
Photographers took shot after shot of the event. A television station made a zoom on Hakan who appeared to be happy as a king. For him it was a time to celebrate.
Struggle calls for celebration and it gives energy to continue fighting with determination. After this success, one can hope than this citizens rallying, with its unexpected success, will lead to a draw back on the Government's part.
The situation in Darfour is dramatic and is deteriorating every day. The theatre of "la Madeleine", in Paris, was packed full of people who want to know more about what is going on in this forgotten area of Sudan. No more can it be said: " we did not know."
Hundreds of villages were set on fire, thousands of people were slaughtered, and thousands of women and young girls were subjected to physical abuse and raped. More than two million people fled their villages that have been destroyed and were living in refugee camps with shortage of food and lack of safety.
More than three years after the beginning of the conflict, the Sudanese government carries on with its policy of supporting the militias who organize attacks against civilians and continue to hold up humanitarian aid.
In Darfour, everyone is a Muslim. So it is not a war of religions but an ethnic war having for only motivation the hate between Africans and Arabs.
The militias block the way to foreign organizations, and the Sudanese government forbids any interference in his internal affairs.
The Khartoum Regime, which has resulted from a coup d'état in 1989, is supported by China and Russia.
International authorities feel helpless and do not act firmly.
Each day is a day of shame.
In the theatre of "la Madeleine", we were many to say " Never again " and to become members of SOS Darfour.
An unforgettable meeting
A couple of persons of more than 70 years of age welcomed me with much kindness. I am meeting both of them for the first time in their magnificent residence. The reason? One of their sons is in prison.
The woman seemed distressed but had a dignified air. Never had she imagined such an ordeal! When she goes to visit her son in jail, she cannot but help herself from crying. Originally from Breton, she had moved away from the Church and her faith. Flowers and trees of her garden are her only therapy.
Her husband narrated in full detail the sequence of events. He is convinced of the innocence of their son and he is preparing with the help of lawyers their son's defence for the trial to come. A support committee has been organized with his help.
This situation is difficult for them to live. Some of their friends have distanced themselves from them. In the public opinion, they are the parents of a prisoner.
Listening to them, I measure the ordeal they were subjected to for years. But at the same time, I admired their capacity to love. In their hearts, there is no resentment. They continue to fight with no hate.
We have become friends.