Manifesto from Researchers and Professors of Equatoguinean Studies and Concerned Citizens of the World to the International Community
- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
- Equatorial Guinea
Equatoguinean writer Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel began a hunger strike on Friday, February 11 to protest the repressive regime of Equatoguinean president Teodoro Obiang, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea for more than 30 years.
A growing number of Equatoguineans and others around the globe are asking the U.S. government to pressure the Equatoguinean government to implement political and economic reform in Equatorial Guinea.
You can add your support by signing this petition!
We the undersigned call on the U.S. government to pressure the government of Equatorial Guinea to implement the political and economic reforms necessary to guarantee that the rights of all citizens are protected, and that all citizens share equally in the benefits derived from the country's substantial oil wealth.
Equatoguineans have not enjoyed freedom since Equatorial Guinea obtained its independence on October 12th 1968. The first president, Francisco Macías Nguema, installed a bloody and despotic regime that lasted for eleven years. The regime was responsible for the murder of thousands of citizens, the exile of more than a third of the population, the devastation of the country’s economic resources, the destruction of the state, the imposition of the social and political doctrine of tribalism, and the heartless persecution of anything that meant culture and progress.
On August 3, 1979, the then Vice-Minister of Defense, lieutenant colonel Teodoro Obiang Nguema, nephew of the president, overthrew his uncle in a coup d’état. This action was received with relief and hope, as it carried the promise of a restoration of freedoms, the implementation of the rule of law, the achievement of national reconciliation, and the promotion of social and economic development. Now nearly 32 years later, it is blatantly obvious that the country has not developed, in spite of its abundant natural resources (hydrocarbons, minerals, fish, timber…), all of which are monopolized by the president and his entourage, giving Equatorial Guinea the reputation of being one of the most corrupt countries in the world. During this long period, General Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s regime has been characterized by institutionalized violence, which has brought death to hundreds of individuals. The most recent episode of this took place on August 21, 2010, when he condemned to death by firing squad four members of the opposition who had been kidnapped from their places of refuge in a neighboring country. The regime is also responsible for the systematic murder of Equatoguinean refugees abroad as well as torture that, according to a recent United Nations report on torture, has become a “habitual” exercise in the country. So too is the absence of the most basic freedom of expression, association, or protest. Individuals, whether national or international citizens, have no guarantees under the law, and the entire system of justice put in place by the president suffers from endemic corruption. Equatorial Guinea has become a “kingdom” in which arbitrariness and systematic abuse are commonplace.
After nearly 32 years of holding power, a truly democratic system of government has not come about under the Obiang regime. The governing Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), founded by the president, is for all intents and purposes the only political party. There is no social development: the country lacks good hospitals, schools and teachers, transport facilities, or even basic electricity, water supply, and drainage and sanitation services. In spite of being sub-Saharan Africa’s third highest oil and natural gas producer, Equatorial Guinea is still one of the poorest countries in the world. According to several NGOs and international organizations, 10% of the population appropriates 85% of the national wealth.
Not only are culture and knowledge not cultivated, but ignorance and brutality are fomented by those in power. This is what explains the fact that the majority of professionals—whether university professors, engineers, architects, physicians, journalists, etc.—live in exile, prevented from placing their knowledge at the service of their country’s development.
In his 32 years in power, President Teodoro Obiang has undermined and prevented necessary national reconciliation and fomented ethnic rivalry.
In these 32 years in power, President Teodoro Obiang has benefited from the passivity of the international community, whose principal desire has been to exploit the national resources of the country and to take advantage of the fear of a defenseless indigenous population that has suffered in silence endless abuse and international corruption.
In this context the writer JUAN TOMAS AVILA LAUREL has gone on a hunger strike as the only form of protest against Equatorial Guinea’s unpublicized tyranny. The exemplary action taken by JUAN TOMAS inspires us to solidarity with him and with our suffering compatriots, in the hope that in a changing continent and world, Equatoguineans might achieve the goals of freedom and dignity that is deserved.
With the above in mind on sending forth this manifesto, we hope that the solidarity of all women and men of goodwill might act as a wake-up call for the sleeping consciences of leaders around the world—especially those in authority at international organizations and in countries that collaborate with General Teodoro Obiang Nguema—contribute to publicizing the reality of Equatorial Guinea’s suffering for the past 42 years, and expose the propaganda spread by the lobbies that keep this bloody and corrupt regime in power.
We hope also that this Manifesto of solidarity with JUAN TOMAS AVILA LAUREL moves us to reflect on the very basic idea that moved him as a writer to undertake this action: the establishment of a platform that can lead Equatorial Guinea to free itself from its prolonged experience of dictatorial oppression, and to find freedom, stability, prosperity, and development.
Finally, we trust that the number of signatures that we attract will prevent our friend JUAN TOMAS AVILA LAUREL from falling victim to the reprisals to which the authorities in Malabo have made us accustomed.
The Manifesto from Researchers and Professors of Equatoguinean Studies and Concerned Citizens of the World to the International Community petition to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was written by Joseph Kraus and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.