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Malawi Couples’ TV Interview May Have Occured Under Duress While In Custody

Jim Burroway

June 4th, 2010

We received another email via LGBT Asylum News saying that the TV interview with Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga was actually recorded last December following their arrest. If so, then that suggests that the interview by government-owned Malawi TV may have been under duress. The interview was removed from Malawi TV’s YouTube channel, but is still available at the Malawi Voice web site.

LGBT Asylum News’ synopsis mostly agrees with the one we received from an American expatriate living in Malawi, but adds a few more details:

I got a twitter messages requesting more information on a TV interview between Television Malawi and Tiwonge and Steven. Sorry I can not provide a full transcript. I am very busy, but I’ll give you a brief summary of the conversation. Here it is:

The reporter is trying to get the couple to denounce what they had done (the alleged wedding) and somewhat apologise to Malawian whom the reporter said the couple had offended. The reporter is using leading questions and authoritative language. Tiwonge, one wrapped in a piece of cloth, did very well in answers. He stood for his beliefs – telling the reporter that “he was within his right to chose his sexual orientation”. Steven got a bit more intimidated and didn’t express himself well.

You need to have in mind that this “interview” was taking place last December – just after the arrest. So the two were still in custody (this – in my opinion – means the interview should not have taken place because it could influence the ruling).

You also need to have in mind that most Malawians – including “leading reports” bought into what I consider stupid consipiracy theory that the couple had been payed by international LGBT campaigners to stage the “wedding” in order to see how Malawi authorities would react. I don’t know the origins of the theory but Malawi is very conservative and religious country so the theory could have its basis on the grounds that religious folks are trying to say Malawians cannot have same sex couples, which is ridiculous because they know it happens undergrounds.

It also think it is a fair assessment that the reporter was (is) ignorant about LGBT issues and he didn’t do his homework for the interview. In the end he felt safer to intimidate them – which was more than possible because the were in custody – rather than have a rational conversation, which the couple could have easily won.

It is also a possibility that the reporter acted on instructions from his bosses because otherwise the interview should not have been aired as it had the potential to pervert a course of justice.



June 4th, 2010 | LINK

Yeah.. anyone would take money from foreigners in order to set themselves up for 14 years of jail time (or even lose their lives)..

How willfully stupid those people are.

paul canning
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

This translation and opinion was given to us by Jimmy Kainja who runs a Malawi affairs blog from London > He has no problem with being identified.

June 7th, 2010 | LINK

Something seemed odd about that interview. I’m not surprised by the revelation that it was done prior to their conviction.

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