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An OpEd by Dr. Andrew D. Jackson . . .

All Americans Should Be Outraged  Over The Continued Imprisonment Of Marafa Hamidou Yaya!

Avid Marafa supporters need only realize that world stability, peace, and development are the cost of idly watching prospective agents of positive, global change linger in prison based on specious criminal charges and convictions.  Minister Marafa is among those potential change agents − cut very much from the same cloth of South Africa’s late President Nelson Mandela.

The late Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the U.S. House, coined the phrase “(a)ll politics is local”, reminding U.S. politicians that their political success ultimately hinges on them appeasing their constituents.  Apparent to Marafa Watch founders is a similar sentiment:  Personal relationships are the impetus for zealous advocacy on behalf of political prisoners, especially on a grassroots basis.  Marafa Watch accordingly evolved to include efforts of the U.S. Friends of Marafa Committee (USFMC).  Its founding members are personal acquaintances of former Minister of the Interior and Secretary-General at the Presidency of Cameroon, Mr. Marafa Hamidou Yaya.  As such, they were particularly motivated to examine Marafa’s arrest, 2012 conviction, and 25 years imprisonment, purportedly for misappropriation of public funds -- an outcome so questionable that the U.S. State Department deemed Marafa a political prisoner in its 2012 report on human rights practices in Cameroon.

Once again, in its recently released 2013 report on human rights practices in Cameroon, the U.S. State Department references Marafa as a political prisoner, and notes that he “remain(s) in detention.”  Outrage over Marafa’s continued incarceration may seem unlikely among Americans who are not his closest allies.  After all, they are citizens of a country grappling with its own wrongful convictions, none exactly like Marafa’s, but some involving inmates fairly, albeit poetically considered political prisoners.  So why would Americans seek justice outside their country’s borders and for Minister Marafa at that?

Marafa Hamidou Yaya
Avid Marafa supporters need only realize that world stability, peace, and development are the cost of idly watching prospective agents of positive, global change linger in prison based on specious criminal charges and convictions.  Minister Marafa is among those potential change agents − cut very much from the same cloth of South Africa’s late President Nelson Mandela. In fact, a leaked cable from the U.S. Embassy at Yaoundé aligned Marafa with America’s priorities in Cameroon, arguably precipitating his imprisonment.  With Marafa conveniently socked away, despite its potential, Cameroon remains a challenging business environment per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  In 1999, Cameroon was perceived as the most corrupt, and remains among the countries most perceived as corrupt out of the countries ranked by Transparency International.

More insidious than Cameroon’s staggering corruption is its threat as a potential haven for terrorism.  On the occasion of Marafa Watch’s launch, Marafa’s chief defense counsel implored potential supporters, saying:

The international community cannot afford to be absent from events taking place in Cameroon, which carry the risk of destabilizing the entire sub-region. We have learnt from the painful history of the recent past that political instability very often is an open invitation to extremists to move in, and when they do international security is threatened.

Professor Ndiva Kofele-Kale

Just days ago, Nigerian media outlets confirmed that terrorist forces have infiltrated and are fully operational in Cameroon.  Many fear that war and increasing instability in Cameroon will result as Professor Kofele-Kale forewarned.

While U.S. aid to Cameroon from 2012 until now has dramatically decreased, it remains a 7 figure amount.  Given the corresponding commitment of U.S. taxpayers, last month, USFMC emphasized . . .

. . .  positions taken by the Government of Cameroon . . . that appear to our members and supporters, ordinary American citizens, as undermining the foundation of comity and mutual respect between the U.S. and Cameroon.  Speaking and acting for their government, high ranking Cameroon officials (including a voluble minister of communications) have denigrated the Voice of America.  They have disregarded judgments of American federal courts, especially a 2006 Settlement Agreement issued by the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Oregon, that should have put to rest the whole BBJ-2 Affair ostensibly prompting Marafa’s imprisonment.

U.S. Grassroots Activists Declare There Is Unfinished Business In Cameroon: FREE MARAFA!

 
Dr. Andrew D. Jackson, a USFMC co-founder.
As suggested by this quote, USFMC members do not purport to be foreign affairs experts.  Yet we sense, at least generally, the complexities of international diplomacy.  We recognize that allowances are made as part of diplomatic measures, but remain appalled by reliable reports that America will be welcoming Cameroon’s President Biya to the USA-Africa Forum this August in Washington, D.C.

In the face of grounds for escalating sanctions against the Republic of Cameroon, it appears that USFMC members − and all other American taxpayers − will instead pay for Cameroon’s President Biya to rub shoulders with other heads of state. Apparently Biya is to be our guest while Minister Marafa remains a guest of Cameroon’s notoriously inhumane prison system.  ALL Americans should be seething and their outrage manifested by an increasingly thunderous demand:  FREE MARAFA!
___

Dr. Andrew D. Jackson is a a coordinator for the U.S. Friends of Marafa Committee (USFMC). NGOs under The Law Project umbrella are part of the “USA-based NGOs for the Freedom of Minister Marafa Hamidou Yaya”.

 

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