Cameroonian-American literature professor and author Patrice Nganang has been deported to the U.S. after spending three weeks in a Cameroonian jail for allegedly insulting President Paul Biya in an article he wrote condemning the government’s poor handling of the separatist crisis in the country.
A judge ruled on Wednesday that he should be expelled from the central African country, and on Thursday he was released from the Kondengui Central Prison in the capital Yaounde and expelled to the United States. He was also barred from returning to the country of his birth, reports local media.
US-Cameroonian writer/professor Patrice Nganang released from jail, sent back to US on Ethiopian airlines. Told he’d never be given a visa for Cameroon again, after criticising govt over the Anglophone crisis. Pics courtesy of @AgborNkonghoF, Nganang is the one in red and gold. pic.twitter.com/rYD5CYRk7S
— Ruth Maclean (@ruthmaclean) December 28, 2017
Patrice Nganang was first arrested by security agents at the Douala airport when he was about leaving the country to meet his wife in Zimbabwe.
His lawyers found him at a government detention centre in the capital Yaounde where the authorities charged him with “insulting the president” in an opinion piece published in French online media Jeune Afrique.
The article published in French condemned the government’s treatment of citizens in the English-speaking regions where separatists who are calling for independence are facing deadly repression and violent attacks from the government forces.
Nganang condemned the deployment of the military to the South West region where civilians in five villages have been ordered to leave their homes as troops battle separatists described as terrorists by the government.
“It will probably take another political regime to make the state understand that the machine gun cannot stem a movement. Only a change in the head of state can solve the Anglophone conflict in Cameroon.
“Are we going towards the forced relocation of populations and the creation of (refugee) camps? An offensive situation against the Cameroonian people, a precedent for resistance with its refugee camps,” Nganang said in the article.
He also questioned the government over its decision to label the people as terrorists when their leaders have sought dialogue to solve the crisis which has seen thousands flee to neighbouring Nigeria after the killing of dozens.
“Is everyone here an arsonist? … who are these terrorists mentioned by the President of the Republic while he clearly refuses dialogue demanded by everyone including the English protest leaders?
“Can bilingual Cameroonians be enemies in a country whose president has never, in his political career, said a single speech nor conducted an interview in English?”
The Stony Brook University literature professor pleaded not guilty when he appeared in court on December 15.
His book Temps de Chien (Dog Days) in its original French version won the Prix Marguerite Yourcenar in 2001, and later the Grand Prix of Black African Literature.