STATUS: In Prison
Enoh Meyomesse, 57, is a writer, blogger, historian and political activist who has published more than 15 books of poetry, prose, essays, and works on political and cultural themes and is a founding member and president of the Cameroon Writers Association. His first book was a collection of poems. In 2010, he published Le massacre de Messa en 1955 (The Massacre of Messa in 1955) and the tract Discours sur le tribalisme (A Discussion on Tribalism), in which he discusses the destructive effects of tribalism in Africa politics.
View an interactive timeline about Enoh Meyomesse's case.
Meyomesse is a recipient of the 2012 Oxfam Novib/PEN Award in recognition of his continued work in the face of persecution.
On December 14, 2012, after 13 months in prison, Enoh Meyomesse and three others charged in the case were found guilty of the theft and illegal sale of gold. On December 27, he was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined 200,000 CFA (£247), as requested by the state prosecutor. No witnesses or evidence were presented during the trial, and he was not allowed to testify in his own defense. According to Meyomesse, he was sentenced “without any proof of wrong-doing on my part, without any witnesses, without any complainants, and more than that, after having been tortured during 30 days by an officer of the military.”
Meyomesse’s lawyers are in the process of launching an appeal.
Because of his time spent in darkness in the first month of his confinement, Enoh Meyomesse is dealing with a debilitating eye condition that could leave him blind. He is currently being held in the overcrowded Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé, the Cameroonian capital, where conditions are generally deplorable and inmates receive only one meal a day.
In October 2011, Enoh Meyomesse unsuccessfully ran for president of Cameroon under the banner of the opposition party the United National Front, a challenge to President Paul Biya’s 30-year rule. A month later, while Meyomesse was in Singapore on November 18, gendarmes broke into the writer’s home without a warrant and confiscated documents, CDs, flash drives, photographs, and other personal property. Upon his return on November 22, 2011, he was arrested at Nsimalen International Airport in Yaoundé. He was charged with attempting to organize a coup, possessing a firearm, and aggravated theft. Meyomesse denied all charges and maintained that he had been arrested because of views expressed in his writings and for his political activism. He faced a 50-year prison sentence if found guilty. The day after his arrest, Meyomesse was sent to a prison in Bertoua, the capital of Eastern Region, where he was held in solitary confinement—and complete darkness—for 30 days. During this time, the writer was denied access to a lawyer, and faced ill-treatment in detention. On December 22, 2011, he was transferred to the overcrowded Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé.
Beginning in late January 2012, after a military court ordered Meyomesse detained for six months while authorities conducted an investigation, the charges slowly began to crumble, and by June 2012, they were all dropped.
Despite this, however, in July 2012 a judge ordered a six-month extension of Meyomesse’s detention so that the prosecutor could ostensibly search for evidence against the writer. Meyomesse was subsequently charged with being an accomplice to the theft and illegal trafficking of 78 grams of gold, despite a lack of witnesses and evidence.
Cameroon has a poor record on human rights in general and on freedom of expression in particular. Opposition parties and numerous Western governments have alleged voting irregularities and widespread fraud in each of the four presidential elections since President Biya reluctantly introduced multi-party politics in the early 1990s.
Writing by Enoh Meyomesse
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