Open letter to the participants of NYFA 2
Dear Mr. or Mrs.,
You have been approached by Mr. Richard Attias to participate, in Gabon, to the second edition of the New York Forum Africa (NYFA) whose only aim remains the glorification of Ali Bongo.
We believe, in many ways, that we share the same values. Like you, we believe in democracy. Like you, we are committed to freedom of expression. Like you, we believe that the state should be strong and just, that it must protect the weak as well as guaranty the security of the strong. Like you, we hope that Africa will eventually wake up and offer its people's the quality of life to which they legitimately aspire. Like you, we love scientific, technological and societal progress.
However, it is our duty to remind you that Gabon is a republic and not a hereditary monarchy. We must remind you that Ali Bongo succeeded his father, who ruled Gabon for more than four (4) decades in scabrous conditions all the while making use of force. We must remind you that the arrival of Ali Bongo at the head of Gabon was done through the spilling of Gabonese blood, citizens who fell under the bullets of an army turned into a private militia led by members of Ali Bongo’s kinship. These historical and verifiable facts cannot be ignored by you.
We will not insult you by presenting a synopsis of the human rights situation and more widely of the governance in Gabon. Because we are convinced that you know about it as much as we do.
We firmly believe that you know that Gabon is a country where corruption, embezzlement of public funds, illicit enrichment have been erected as governance principles.
We are confident that you know that the Gabonese justice system is exploited for political and personal purposes.
We are convinced that you know that the press is harassed and systematically repressed by a national council of communication obeying the regime’s orders.
We are certain that you have heard of this barbaric practice called "ritual crimes." Yes, we are convinced that you know that since the advent of Ali Bongo to power, we are witnessing a resurgence of ritual crimes with total impunity of perpetrators and sponsors. Should we point out that these crimes consist of the removal, while the victim is still alive, of organs (eyes, tongue, clitoris, lungs, heart, blood ...) for witchcraft? We know that the ritual crimes are sponsored by those in power in search of glory, power and money. Should we tell you that ministers of the current government, people known to be very close to Ali Bongo, have been named in these cases without him being the least bit concerned? That in April 2013, the government forbade a march by the civil society against human sacrifices and the forces of repression broke up a similar march and arrested activists on Saturday, 11 May 2013.
We inform you that our fight against the scourge of ritualcrimes in Gabon has earned us the support of cyber activist group “Anonymous” in a warning message sent on April 13 to the Gabonese ruling class, and that we continue to fight for justice.
We are therefore asking what meaning to give to your presence in Gabon. We have to wonder what importance those who support Ali Bongo still give to citizens and human rights. We are left wondering if the values you profess are universal; whether what is valid in other latitudes is also valid for us? How should we interpret the fact that you are willing to come endorse an anti-democratic, illegitimate brutal power which denies to many Gabonese their civil and political rights only because they said loudly and clearly their opposition to the monarchic devolution of power?
How can we explain that you are indifferent to the fate of our children whose throats are slit for witchcraft?
How to explain that people chose to close their eyes on the fact that our children are packed in classrooms of more than 100 students? That Ali Bongo, neglecting to build a single school since he came to power, is using stadium locker rooms for classrooms?
How can we justify that you are ready to be associated to a costly event in a country where women still give birth on the floor, and students of the only university in the country are studying in more than deplorable conditions (see report by France 24, Les Observateurs, published April 6, 2013)?
Convinced that you carry within you the noble values of humanity, freedom, equality of opportunity and that you put human dignity above all, we ask you to reconsider in all conscience whether you should participation to the NYFA.
On May 19, we welcomed with satisfaction, the withdrawal of U.S. director Spike Lee. This is quite in his honor. Therefore, we appeal to your conscience, to your humanity and we ask you to refrain from taking part in this event which is a pure communication operation to the glory of Ali Bongo. Except, of course, if you think that the results of the first edition of the NYFA have been beneficial in a tangible and pertinent way. For us, we do not absolutely see how that edition benefitted the people of the world, of Africa or of Gabon. We know that you have a sense of history and ask you to analyze the historical significance of your participation in this event. Because the Gabonese people would be much honored to welcome you in other circumstances, we affirm that your participation in this event will be for us a clear positioning against the Gabonese people.
For good practices, please note that the content of this letter will be communicated to the media and civil society and human rights organizations worldwide.
We hope you understand our approach.
Please accept, Madam, Sir, the assurance of our regards.
For the Movement of Gabonese Indignants, Mr Grégory Ngbwa Mintsa, 2009 & 2010 Transparency International Integrity Prize Winner- contact : +241 06 24 61 57
For the Women Collective Against Ritual Crimes, Mrs Blanche SIMONNY ABEGUE - contact: +241 06 49 08 39
For the citizen Movement « ça suffit comme ça », Mr Marc ONA ESSANGUI, Goldman Prize Winner 2009 – contact +241 07 29 41 40