Take action: Help free imprisoned songwriter
October 30, 2009
Freemuse, a free expression organisation for musicians and composers, is asking for your support to help dissident singer/songwriter Lapiro de Mbanga. He was imprisoned in 2008 and fined US$640,000 for writing a song critical of Cameroonian President Paul Biya.
Freemuse and the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN have been campaigning for his release since he was jailed in April 2008. That month, Cameroon changed the constitution and eliminated term limits for the President. Mbanga expressed his opposition in the song "Constipated Constitution." He sang: "The head of State is caught in the trap of networks that oblige him to stay in power even though he is tired? Free Big Katika" (Big Katika is Biya's nickname). Biya is seeking re-election in 2011.
Mbanga was accused of taking part in anti-government riots against the high cost of living in Cameroon. "The charges against Mbanga are widely held to have been made in retaliation for his criticism of the government," said WiPC. His wife denied that he took part in the riots and insists he was a sobering force who stopped people from burning down a building. Recently, he has been suffering from the effects of typhoid fever, reports Freemuse. WiPC reports that he has been denied medical attention.
WiPC will be highlighting Mbanga's case on 15 November 2009, Day of the Imprisoned Writer, to commemorate his courage.
Meanwhile, Mbanga has been shortlisted for "The Orient Global Freedom to Create Prize": http://www.freemuse.org/sw34335.asp
WiPC and Freemuse are appealing to Biya to release Mbanga now.
Help free Lapiro de Mbanga by writing to the authorities. For more information contact
International Freedom of Expression Exchange
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