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October 16, 2005

6 TEENS FACE LASHINGS IN NIGERIA FOR LESBIANISM

Six teenage girls, between the ages of 12 and 17, have been sentenced to 90 strokes of a cane each for lesbianism, according to dispatches from two wire services (the South African Press Association and Deutsche Press-Agentur) relayed on Friday by the large South African commercial news site News24.com. These reports say "A local vigilance group in Twon-Brass in Nigeria's Bayelsa state arraigned the girls before a special local action committee, and they were pronounced guilty... for their 'shameful and abominable act.' The vigilance group said one of the convicts confessed to the crime and said a friend whose name she gave as Felicia introduced her into lesbianism. Felicia is still at large."

Bayelsa_map The oil-rich Bayelsa state in the Nigerian Delta (Bayelsa is in red in the map of Nigeria, left)  is one of the 36 states in Nigeria -- and the only one governed by a member of the Ijaw tribe that makes up Bayelsa's population. Bayelsa's governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (right), was arrested on money-laundering charges Diepreye_alamieyeseigha on September 15 in London, where he has been jailed since (Nigeria is the third most corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International, the London-based group that monitors corruption world-wide.)

The Ijaw, while having largely formally converted to Christianity -- Catholicism in the occurrence -- have simultaneously maintained their traditional animist religion, which involves the ritual worship of water spirits through elaborate dancing as well as ancestor worship. Local government in towns like Twon-Brass, where the six young girls face the barbaric punishment of lashing, are governed by tribal chiefs. Bayelsa's official website says, "Each community of the state has a traditional head while the State Council of Chiefs is headed by the most accepted elderly person. The traditional institutions are hierarchical."

Bayelsa has for decades been a fiefdom of the Chevron Oil Company, which has a long record of paying Nigeria's Mobile Police and its army to protect -- often violently -- its installations and refineries (violence detailed in a 1999 report by Human Rights Watch.) As I reported in an August 10, 2000 article in The Nation on "Tricky Dick" Cheney's nomination for Vice President, Halliburton (the company Cheney headed) was accused of the murder of Ijaw protesters against pollution in Bayelsa by Nigerian Environmental Rights Action, an pro-environment NGO. Halliburton was employed by Chevron to construct the world's largest oil refinery in Nigeria.

One way to try to stop the lashing of these young teenage Nigerian girls is to demand that Chevron Oil use its enormous power and influence in the state of Bayelsa to intervene on their behalf. You may write, call, or e-mail Chevron at Chevron Corporation,6001 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon, CA 94583, Telephone (925) 842-1000, e-mail Chevron.com

MORE COVERAGE OF IRAN'S ANTI-GAY CRACKDOWN: The mainstream press is still ignoring the reign of terror under which Iranian gays are living, but Ohio's large gay weekly, the Gay People's Chronicle, has become the latest of the U.S. Gay_peoples_chronicle_logo_1 gay weeklies to feature an article on the unfolding tragedy for gays in Iran under the new government of President Ahmadinejad. In an October 14 article, "Iran's Gays, Fearing a Pogrom, Reach Out to U.S. For Help," the Chronicle's Eric Resnick does a roundup story on what's happening in Iran. To read it, click here.....The_new_republic_logo And, don't miss The New Republic's  excellent October 6 article, "America's Gay Rights Establishment is Failing Gay Iranians," by Rob Anderson...

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    Posted by: JEROGatch | Oct 29, 2006 10:06:29 AM

    Well, things WILL get worse with Ahmadinejad as the new president. My only hope is that more and more of these human rights abuses reach us in the Western world. The more it gets talked about, the less public opinion will be littered with ignorance and outright stupidity.

    Posted by: Hossein | Oct 18, 2005 4:42:31 PM

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