The African Studies Association—a scholarly organization composed of over 2,000 university academics based in the United States, Europe and Africa—joins American PEN, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the African Literature Association, and countless colleagues, friends and family, in calling for the dismissal of all charges against Patrice Nganang, Professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at Stony Brook University, who was detained by the government of Cameroon on December 6th.
The following information and call to action has been issued by Professor Nganang’s family and friends:
Cameroonian-American writer-activist Patrice Nganang was taken into custody by the government of Cameroon on 6 December, 2017, as he was about to board a flight to Zimbabwe to join his wife, Dr. Nyasha Bakare, and family. When he did not arrive in Harare as scheduled on the night of Wednesday, 6 December, a search for his whereabouts began. On Friday 8 December it was
discovered that he was being held at the General Delegation for National Security (DGSN) detention centre in Yaounde, Cameroon. He was then allowed to speak with his lawyer for the first time. He remains detained.
At a hearing with the judiciary police today, Patrice Nganang was informed of the charges being levelled against him. He will be sent to a prosecutor who will review his case and decide on what further actions will be taken.The most serious charges brought against Patrice were that he insulted the President on social media and that he allegedly issued a death threat. This was based on an emotionally-overwrought Facebook post.
Patrice had just returned from the Anglophone region of the country which is currently experiencing a year-long crisis following protests in the region against its cultural, political and economic marginalization. The government’s response has included mass arrests, an internet shutdown and the excessive use of force which according to Amnesty International has resulted in more than 20 people being unlawfully killed by security forces. In the few days that Nganang spent in the region, he witnessed first-hand the impact of the government’s heavy-handedness in dealing with the Anglophone minority, and he was deeply moved and angered by the injustice of what he saw.
In an article published in Jeune Afrique on 5 December, Patrice, who is a long-time vocal critic of the Biya regime, wrote: “It will probably require another political regime to make the state understand that the machine gun cannot stem a moving crowd. Only change at the top of the state can resolve the Anglophone conflict in Cameroon.”
At Saturday’s hearing, Patrice’s lawyer Emmanuel Simh argued that that he did not represent a bona fide threat to the President because he has never possessed firearms or worked with any armed militias or terrorist groups and has a long history of peaceful activism promoting democracy.
Patrice’s lawyer, Mr. Simh, reports that his defence has been well received. However, on Monday 11 December, Patrice will be brought before a prosecutor who will then decide if this case will proceed.
IN THE INTERESTS OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION, WE ASK YOU TO JOIN US AND THE COMMITTEE FOR THE LIBERATION OF NGANANG IN CALLING UPON THE PROSECUTOR TO DISMISS THE CASE AND ALLOW PATRICE TO LEAVE CAMEROON AND RETURN TO HIS FAMILY.ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE:
1) Please sign the Open Letter from Princeton University calling for his
And this Change.org petition too, initiated by African writers:
2) Please call the Cameroon embassy in your home country/country of residence and demand the immediate release of Patrice.
List of embassies here: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/cameroon
3) Please call/email the US Embassy in Cameroon (https://cm.usembassy.gov/) and the State Department and your Senators/Congress people. Please contact Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand of New York, Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.
4) Please also contact a Committee to Protect Journalists representative, either in the US where Patrice lives or your local representative. Contact info here: https://cpj.org/about/staff.php
5) Write to Mr. David Kaye, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx
7) Please spread this message via your social networks using the hashtags, #FreeNganang and #PatriceNganang
This statement was prepared by friends and family of Patrice. Contact information: [email protected]
ABOUT PATRICE NGANANG:
He was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and educated both in Cameroon and in Germany. He holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and is currently a professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at Stony Brook University in New York state. In Spring 2018, he is scheduled to serve as an Old Dominion Professor at Princeton University and to take up a fellowship at Princeton’s Humanities Council. Nganang is the author of several prize-winning novels, including Mount Pleasant (Mont Plaisant) and Dog Days (Temps de Chien), as well as several books of essays and poetry.
His website is www.nganang.com