Africa

Another attack on a Cameroon activist; a plea for help

Burglars ransacked the home of Cameroonian human rights defender Maximilienne Ngo Mbe on June 30, stealing documents and computers used in her work as executive director of REDHAC, the Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa.

The burglary was the latest in a series of attacks against activists who defend human rights in Cameroon, including the human rights of LGBTI people. Below are (1) a press release describing the June 30 incident and (2) a list of previous attacks.

Les assaillants ont fouillé la siège du REDHAC ; ils ont cassé les armoires; renversé les tiroirs et les dossiers qui s’y trouvaient. (Photo de REDHAC)

On June 30, burglars ransacked the home from the executive director of REDHAC, destroying cabinets and stealing working papers and computers. (Photo courtesy of REDHAC)


Press release

Alert: Burglary at the home of the executive director of REDHAC

Douala, July 1, 2015

The Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa (REDHAC) is concerned about the succession of robberies, the latest on June 30, 2015, at the home of the executive director of REDHAC, Ms. Maximilienne Ngo Mbe, who is currently out of country with her husband.

Facts

Les assaillants ont coupé les antivols de la fenêtre au siège du REDHAC. (Photo de REDHAC)

The burglars cut through security bars so they could enter through a window.(Photo courtesy of REDHAC)

On 30 June 2015, between 3 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. individuals broke into the home of Ms. Maximilienne Ngo Mbe in Douala (North Akwa) in Cameroon. The burglars cut the security bars on the living room window and removed the glass so they could enter the house. They then broke down the door of her room and conducted a systematic search there, breaking into cabinets and overturning drawers and folders.

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe, la directrice executive du  REDHAC (Photo de Hurinews)

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe, executive director of REDHAC (Photo courtesy of Hurinews)

REDHAC working papers were quite clearly their target, because other parts of the house were hardly visited. Items stolen included  REDHAC documents, external hard drives, three USB drives, a laptop, 75 copies of a brochure being prepared about serious crimes affecting human rights in Central Africa. That is a preliminary list, because REDHAC documents were strewn about along with the couple’s personal files , which were ripped and scattered.

The burglars along took a Samsung flat-screen digital TV from the living room and  two laptops and two tablets belonging to other family members.

Des cambrioleurs ont fouillé la domicile de la directrice executive du REDHAC. Ils ont cassé les armoires, renversé les tiroirs et les dossiers de travail, et emporté deux laptops et deux tablettes. (Photo de REDHAC)

After the break-in, REDHAC asked for help to ensure the safety of the home and family members. (REDHAC Photo)

The Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa (REDHAC):

  • Asks its partners and human rights organizations to take urgent action:
  1. To ensure the safety of family members in the home:
  2. For the protection of the home.
  • Asks  Cameroonian authorities to open an investigation to find the culprits and the stolen documents and equipment.

Previous attacks

  • Attempted kidnapping of the son of Maximilienne Ngo Mbe, executive director of REDHAC, April 5, 2013;
  • Burglary at the headquarters of  REDHAC in Douala, June 1, 2013;
  • Burglary at the offices in Yaoundé of Michel Togué, lawyer who defending sexual minorities, June 16, 2013.
  • Arson at the headquarters of Alternatives-Cameroon, which fights AIDS among LGBT people in Douala, June 26, 2013;
  • The murder of Eric Lembembe, executive director of Camfaids (the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS). His body was found at his home in Yaoundé on July 15, 2013.
  • Attempted burglary at REDHAC headquarters on the night of May 18 to 19, 2014.
  • Burglary at REDHAC headquarters on the night of June 12 to 13, 2014, which was the fourth such burglary within a short time, according to Camerpost.  This is an excerpt from Camerpost’s description of the event, translated from the original French:

[The guard at the headquarters of REDHAC reported] that “eight (8) men arrived on three motorcycles including 3 armed with pistols. They used a crowbar to cut the chain that secured the gate and pointed a gun at my head, threatening that if I made the slightest sound I would be killed. ”

After entering the enclosure, he said, “They tied me with a leather belt and tied a cloth over my mouth. One of the bandits led me behind the building, stuck a gun to my temple and stripped me of a sum of 6,000 CFA francs. [US $10]”

“The attackers broke the lock of the door leading into the hall. Using a crowbar, they broke the huge padlock on the iron bar that blocks the central door. Then they smashed the lock with … a hammer. All doors inside the office suffered the same fate. Painstakingly, they conducted a systematic search of the office. They broke the cabinets, drawers and spilled records. Before leaving the office of Maximilienne Ngo Mbe, the executive director of REDHAC, they took flat-screen digital televisions and important files. In the office of the executive secretary, the robbers took an iPad, two laptops and a large sum of money. In the security office, they took a laptop, a digital camera, a digital camera and some money for current expenses. In the lobby, they stole a flat-screen digital television.”

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