Friday, April 8, 2011

Cameroon: Lapiro de Mbanga released

This evening, I received a heartwarming email from Freemuse titled, "Singer Lapiro de Mbanga released from prison." Pierre Roger Lambo Sandjo, commonly known as Lapiro de Mbanga, is a popular Cameroonian musician who was arrested and imprisoned in 2008.

According to Freemuse, an international organization (based in Denmark) that promotes freedom of expression for musicians and composers, Lapiro was released at 2pm CEST (1pm in Douala) from the infamous New Bell Prison in the economic capital of Cameroon.

The singer was arrested in April 2008 on accusations of "complicity" in widespread demonstrations against high cost of living and a controversial constitutional amendment that eliminated presidential term limits in Cameroon. He was sentenced to 3 years behind bars and slapped with a fine of 280 million CFA francs.

It is widely believed that the artist, a longtime critic of the Cameroon government and "voice for the voiceless", was arrested and imprisoned for condemning the controversial 2008 constitutional amendment in his song - "Constitution Constipe" (Constipated Constitution).

The release of Lapiro de Mbanga after 3 years in jail is welcomed, but there are still widespread concerns about his safety and security of person. He's an outspoken critic of a 28-year old regime that is poised to run for re-election later this year.

It is worth mentioning that there was a media blackout in Cameroon as to the exact time and date of Lapiro's release. Many supporters and human rights activists had limited information and were expecting the singer's release on 9 April 2011. Today on Facebook, someone stated: "As I write, tension is mounting in Douala as the population has been mobilising for the past 2 weeks to give Lapiro a hero's welcome tomorrow..."

Give it up for Freemuse and its collaborators for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Lapiro de Mbanga all through the difficult 3 years in jail and for aggressively campaigning for his release.

2 comments:

  1. wow that is crazy. I was wondering were he went and at some point I actually thought he was dead. Maybe his release will inspire the people of cameroon to come together and put down a plan as far as what they are trying to execute instead of the chaotic messages i keep getting from facebook and other internet sources

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  2. This is what happen when you turn your back on the people and join the wrong camp only to be treated like a dog.

    I hope he will appreciate his new found freedom and take a definitive stand against those rebels in Yaounde. Breathe my friend.

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