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Transgender activist from Zimbabwe receives asylum in US

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A prominent transgender activist from Zimbabwe has received asylum in the U.S.

Ricky “Rikki” Nathanson, founder of Trans Research, Education, Advocacy and Training (TREAT), a trans advocacy group in Zimbabwe, applied for asylum on Dec. 27, 2018, after she traveled to D.C. from New York where she had attended OutRight Action International’s annual summit. The U.S. granted Nathanson asylum on Feb. 15.

“I actually am feeling really much at home,” Nathanson told the Washington Blade on May 3 during an interview at her office at Casa Ruby where she is the director of HIV/AIDS prevention and outreach. “I’ve been welcomed by a lot of people.”

Treatment after 2014 arrest was ‘terrible’

Police in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo in January 2014 arrested Nathanson after she used a women’s restroom in a hotel. Nathanson told the Blade she was stripped naked in front of five police officers and was kept in jail for three days.

“It was terrible,” she said.

Nathanson in August 2014 filed a lawsuit against Zimbabwe’s Home Affairs minister, the commissioner of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the assistant commissioner of the Bulawayo Central Police Station and the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party’s Youth League who instigated her arrest.

A hearing on Nathanson’s lawsuit took place in a Bulawayo court for three days in the summer of 2017. The judge who heard the case said he would issue a ruling within a month of the trial, but Nathanson told the Blade “up until today we’ve heard nothing.”

Nathanson told the Blade a car began to follow her in August 2018 and she realized her phone had also been tapped.

She said someone broke into her home last October while she was out with a group of friends. Nathanson told the Blade the police who responded several hours after she discovered the burglary told her to file a report, but “there was no follow-up.”

She said three men who she described as “thugs” broke into her home a week later at around 2 a.m. and attacked her.

“I woke up and I got out of bed,” Nathanson told the Blade, noting a noise in the hallway woke her up. “As I walked into the passage I saw these three men walking towards me. They were in the house. They said, ‘Turn around, don’t look at us. Turn around and hop into bed.’”

Nathanson said the men then beat her with a baton while she was under the sheets.

“It was all frightening,” she told the Blade. “All this time they were saying to me, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know who you’re messing with. You’re messing with the wrong people. Stop what you’re doing. How can you try to force yourself to be a thing that you’re not, a person that you’re not when you are in fact actually a man.’”

Nathanson said her lawsuit likely instigated the attack.

She told the Blade the two ZANU-PF officials who arrested her in 2014 saw her on the street a few days later before she travelled to New York for an OutRight Action International meeting and shouted, “Why are you still walking around? Why haven’t you disappeared?” Nathanson said she walked to her car and drove away.

Nathanson entered the U.S. on Nov. 28, 2018, with a visa that would have allowed her to remain in the country through July.

She said TREAT’s finance officer called her a few days later and told her that a neighbor said “thugs” had once again broken into her home. Nathanson also said they went to TREAT’s offices and said they needed her “urgently” at the Bulawayo offices of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organization.

Nathanson was scheduled to return to Zimbabwe on Dec. 13, but she told the Blade state security officials would arrest her once she arrived in the country.

“That is why I decided it wasn’t safe for me to go home,” said Nathanson.

New Zimbabwe president is ‘ruthless man’

The government of former President Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November 2017, frequently targeted LGBTI activists and other groups.

Nathanson noted to the Blade that ZANU-PF invited her and other leading LGBTI activists to a press conference in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, before last July’s presidential elections because “they wanted our vote.”

“We voiced our skepticism at how genuine we thought the government and ZANU-PF was by reaching out to us,” said Nathanson. “As we anticipated, nothing has really changed in Zimbabwe. If anything, it has gotten worse. I don’t think it will get any better.”

“They’re not saying anything outrightly adverse against the LGBT community of Zimbabwe, but they are not making any concession,” she added. “It’s like a simmering pot. There’s something brewing at the bottom. One day they will announce something and it will just happen.”

Nathanson also noted to the Blade that current President Emmerson Mnangagwa oversaw the killing of thousands of Ndebele civilians during the Gukarahundi massacres in the 1980s.

“Mnangagwa is a ruthless, ruthless man,” said Nathanson.

Nathanson finds refuge in US

Nathanson has been living in Rockville, Md., with Steve Brooks and his Zimbabwean partner, Talent Nyathi, and another Zimbabwean asylum seeker, since Dec. 9, 2018.

Nathanson has continued her advocacy from here in the U.S., including speaking at an OutRight Action International fundraiser at the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan. on April 11. OutRight Action International on Tuesday will honor Nathanson at its annual gala in New York.

She acknowledged the growing concerns over the Trump administration’s policies towards LGBTI Americans and asylum seekers. Nathanson also noted to the Blade that Trump “won’t be in power forever.”

“Elections are in 2020,” said Nathanson. “There are checks and balances. He has a very strong opposition in Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.”

Nathanson said she attended an International Rescue Commission meeting the day before she spoke with the Blade and met a young gay man from El Salvador who had been in a detention center for more than seven months before he was granted asylum. Nathanson said listening “to his story and what he went through at the detention center was horrific.”

“It’s horrific,” she told the Blade.

“My experience pales by experience,” added Nathanson.

Nathanson acknowledged violence based on gender identity remains a problem in D.C., but she said she has “no fear of my personal safety or integrity for being the person I am.”

“I feel so much more peace and so much more at ease because I now can live my life as it is meant to be lived without fear of being persecuted by the government or whatever,” said Nathanson.

“Even though Trump is uttering all that he is uttering, I am still much more comfortable in the United States,” she added.

 

 

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Crime

Revealed: How Tycoon Dutch Tob Cohen Died From Severe Head Trauma

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Dutch Tob Cohen

It has now found that the  late Dutch businessman Tob Cohen died from a severe head trauma inflicted by a blunt object. Post-mortal examination results released on Friday revealed that a kick to the right side of the head is what killed him.

Detective found the body at his Kitisuru home almost two months after he had been reported missing,” The body was of a male adult of light skinned race  who had been preserved by refrigerator and was break up….in black polyethylene bag, yellow polyethylene  bag and red polyethylene bag.”

The Pathologists said they collected 10 samples from the deceased’s body that had been found in an underground water tank. Some parts of the body were found to be overrun by parasites while the eyes had been blindfolded, hands and feet were tired with a rope at the neck.

Both hands were fractured with a lot of bruises while his upper lip was found torn on the sides. Report from 5 diagnosticians further revealed that the late Cohen had many rib injuries and bruises on the diaphragm.

The  pathology reports, the late Cohen was found to have bruises on the right side of the face and his left external ear also had a torn ragged  wound. Bruises were  also discovered on the chest, arms, lower limbs and the right foot.

Diagnostician used finger and toe nails as DNA sample for the post-mortal examination as well as sprig and flora(vegetation) they found enclosed on the body.

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Crime

Judge won’t return $100,000 to the woman who posted bond for R. Kelly

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CHICAGO (AP) — A judge in R. Kelly’s Illinois sexual assault case has refused to give $100,000 in bail money back to a Kelly friend who paid it in February to secure the singer’s release from county jail.

The judge says papers that restauranteur Valencia Love signed clearly indicated she could lose the money.

Love’s lawyer said in court Tuesday that she didn’t know when she paid 10% of a $1 million bond that Kelly would be charged federally and land in federal jail.

John Collins said Love now fears losing all the money as charges against Kelly stack up.

But Judge Lawrence Flood read sections of papers Love signed warning the bond money could be used for Kelly’s legal fees and that she may never see it again.

 

– Associated Press

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