Cameroon: Enoh Meyomesse waits 12 months for appeal hearing

Imprisoned poet and activist Enoh Meyomesse’s appeal hearing is finally expected to take place this Thursday, 17 April, following the postponement of numerous previous hearings. It has now been a year since his case was first referred to a civil court for appeal

On 27 December 2012 writer Enoh Meyomesse was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated. He had already been detained for 13 months prior to this conviction, despite all previous charges against him having been dropped in June 2012.

Enoh Meyomesse continues to be held in the over-crowded Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé where he has reportedly been held in solitary confinement and subject to torture. There are widespread concerns for his health and well-being.

Last year, English PEN invited our network of supporters to join us in working on a crowd-sourced translation of Enoh Meyomesse’s first collection of prison poetry Poème Carcéral: Poésie du pénitencier de KondenguiThe resulting anthology Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison is now available to print-on-demand, with all proceeds going to support Enoh Meyomesse and our ongoing work on behalf of Writers at Risk around the world.

Ahead of his most recent appeal hearing, which was due to take place on 20 March, we launched another call to action, asking supporters to help us translate Meyomesse’s second collection, Prison Poetry, into English. Several translations are now available on our website and our latest translation appears here.

Meyomesse’s appeal hearing has since been rescheduled again and is now due to take place on 17 April. Please join us in taking action.

 

My friends the ministers

 

my friends the ministers

oh, we always call them

THUS

 

they crack their fingers

they get lost in their thoughts

they get lost in their past

WHEN THEY WERE

EXCELLENCIES

 

men who were not approached

men who were not perceived

men who were not intimate

WHEN THEY WERE

EXCELLENCIES

 

as they relive the past

as they remind themselves of the past

as they throw themselves again into the past

WHEN THEY WERE

EXCELLENCIES

 

my friends the ministers

oh, we always call them

THUS

 

LIKE WHEN

THEY WERE

EXCELLENCIES

 

and then they confess to me  into the hollow of my ear

you the cursed protester

that we hated that we

persecuted that we sent

sniggering to his death

a nauseating cockroach on our dishes

a sewer rat defecating on our

happiness

jealous and embittered before God

a scoundrel unable to do anything but

slander

O WRITER

YOU WERE RIGHT

 

Translated from French by Darius Sobhani

 

About the translator

Darius Sobhani was born in the UK and raised in Spain in a bilingual household. His deep interest in languages led him to study to London to study Comparative Literature at King’s College London.

 

TAKE ACTION

Join us for ‘Poetry and Protest’ on 24 April

Join English PEN for a night of poetry, music and discussion on how literature and activism can come together, with special guests reading Enoh Meyomesse’s work in translation. More details here.

Read, share and translate his writing

While all of the poems from the second collection have now been assigned to volunteer translators, we are still looking for supporters to help translate his work into as many other languages as possible. If you are able to translate from English or French into another language, please email cat@englishpen.org for more details.

Send pens and notebooks

Since April 2013, Meyomesse has been denied access to the prison computer room, but continues to write prolifically by hand. He has requested that we send notebooks and pens to enable him to continue to do so. Email cat@englishpen.org for further information.

Write to the authorities

Please send appeals:

  • Protesting the conviction of writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse on charges of supposed complicity in the theft and illegal sale of gold, and the seven-year prison sentence handed down to him on 27 December 2012;
  • Noting that PEN believes the case against him is politically motivated;
  • Calling on the Cameroonian authorities to do all they can to ensure that the appeal hearing scheduled for 17 April 2014 goes ahead;
  • Urging the authorities to quash the conviction and to release Meyomesse immediately and unconditionally.

Write to:

His Excellency Mr. Nkwelle Ekaney
Cameroon High Commission
84 Holland Park
London
W11 3SB
Fax: 020 7792 0608
Email: info@cameroonhighcommission.co.uk

Or you could use the form below. A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.

[ecampaign ‘to=info@cameroonhighcommission.co.uk’ subject=”Free Meyomesse”]

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to protest the ongoing imprisonment of writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse.

According to PEN’s information, on 27 December 2012 writer Enoh Meyomesse was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated. He had already been detained for 13 months prior to this conviction, despite all previous charges against him having been dropped in June 2012.

Enoh Meyomesse continues to be held in the over-crowded Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé where he has reportedly been held in solitary confinement and subject to torture. There are widespread concerns for his health and well-being.

His appeal was expected to be called to the Courts of Appeal for the first time on 20 June, but was postponed until 18 July. A number of other hearings have since been postponed, and the appeal is now finally expected to take place on 17 April. It has now been a year since his case was first referred to a civil court for appeal in April 2013.

I urge the Cameroonian authorities to do all in their power to ensure that Meyomesse’s appeal hearing goes ahead as scheduled, that the conviction is quashed, and that he is released immediately and unconditionally.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[/ecampaign]

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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