Moses Walusimbi fled Uganda’s anti-gay laws for The Netherlands and now runs Uganda Gay On Move UGOM – a blog, Facebook
and Twitter movement that helps gay Ugandans and Africans who have fled persecution as well as providing information for those
who are left behind and remain under threat.
“When I came to Holland, I realised the more you keep quiet the more you suffer,”
Walusimbi told Index. “I was very eager to know if there were any other Ugandans who are in Holland who are like me, in the same situation. And when I started these social media things, many Ugandans responded.”
His movement now has almost 8000 followers on Facebook, which he says is the most popular platform for his content. He also has followers on Twitter and his blog.
Uganda Gay On Move is providing a support network that goes beyond publishing, with many photos of meetings between its
members for social and political reasons
“Uganda Gay On Move is like a family to us now. It’s like a family because we come together, we discuss, we find solutions,” said
These solutions have included the group petitioning and lobbying the Dutch parliament to raise awareness about the denial of the human rights of gay Ugandans and other Africans. It also publishes information that helps asylum-seekers manage their cases and gather evidence. But Walusimbi still worries about those in Uganda who could face
jail sentences simply for reading it.
“Ugandan LGBTI people unless well known human rights defenders tend to use false names on Facebook. There is also
a danger when people attend internet cafes and do not securely log off.
There is also a danger and I have had several direct reports of family or friends seeing the Facebook pages left open on computers in
homes. Some people have been exposed this
Melanie Nathan, an LGBTI activist and publisher who has worked closely with African LGBTI movements, told Index.
“Using Facebook could result in meetings or revealing real names through trust and then in entrapment.”
Walusimbi corroborated that
there are real cases where this has happened.
Blogs by and for refugees from various conflict zones are building audiences.
The Medeshi Somaliland blog is one example. It was founded with a desire to keep in touch with a dispersed family and diaspora in
2007 by Mo Ali, who left Somaliland to seek asylum in the UK in 2004.
His work of aggregating and creating new content quickly became more political.
“There are many websites about Somaliland and those who are publishing there have been harassed by the police. They’ve
been ordered to shut down because of being critical of the government on freedom of speech and press,” Ali told Index, saying he knows of at least three websites that have been shut down and explaining why he has
to publish from abroad. Even publishing from the UK, he doesn’t feel totally safe,
“I’ve received death threats via email but published the threat online
and nothing happened. I’m still alive. It was just intimidation.”
Like Uganda Gay On Move, Ali has used the blog’s following to campaign, and in 2010 and 2012 rallied more than 1,000 of his followers to lobby outside London’s Parliament for official recognition of Somaliland.
Refugees are working on their own and with professional content and software creators to find bespoke ways to tell their stories. Dadaab Stories and the related Refugee News are two of the most elegant
Some refugees use blogs and social media channels to publish content banned at home to try to fight the repression they escaped