A man who fled Tanzania due to the nation's anti-LGBTQ crackdown has shared his story of horrifying persecution with U.K. newspaper The Telegraph.
"I went to put flowers on dad's grave, and people came up and attacked me right on my dad's grave, and so I had to run away for safety," said the man, whose name is not being released. "I felt so scared. I was like, if somebody would grab a stone right now and throw [it] at me that would just be that, my life would be taken like that."
The attack occurred in Dar es Salaam, the nation's largest city and economic capital. The city's governor, Paul Makonda, recently announce plans to track down and arrestLGBTQ people there.
The man interviewed by The Telegraph said the government has a list with18,000 names of suspected LGBTQ people on it.
"They were calling for people to catch us, to ambush us in the streets and take us to the police stations," he said. He then went into horrifying detail about what transpires at the police stations.
"They will do forced anal exams on them, so you prove that they are gay or not. You can't sit, you can't walk after that," he said, confirming rumors that suspected LGBTQ people would be subject to forced anal exams upon arrest. "So basically even if you are not gay and somebody just hated you and they wanted you to be tortured and humiliated, they would just write your name or take you to the police station and you would have an anal exam and you'd be left shattered."
The national government has distanced itself from Makonda's actions, saying it has no intention to pursue and arrest LGBTQ people throughout Tanzania. But President John Magufuli and his administration have a history of homophobic statements and actions.
In addition to the witch hunt announced by Makonda, there have been arrests in a beach city on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. Ten men were arrested at a party last Saturday on suspicion of being gay.
The U.S. embassy in Tanzania has warned Americans living there to be careful about what they post on social media, which is one of the tools Makonda and his associates are using to seek out LGBTQ people. The European Union has recalled its ambassador to the nation.
The man who spoke to The Telegraph lamented that he is still too afraid to return home. Watch the interview below.