Equatorial Guinea is a small West African country rich in both oil and repression.
Last Friday, Alfredo Okenve Ndoho, a leading voice on human rights, was meant to receive an award in the French Embassy for his work to uncover how international oil companies fund the brutal government of President Teodoro Nguema Obiang. But his day took a much darker turn.
The armed forces first knocked on his cousin’s door, demanding to know Alfredo’s whereabouts. As Alfredo’s last encounter with the armed forces left him severely injured and requiring extensive medical treatment overseas, his cousin refused to reveal his location. For this, his cousin, Joaquín Mangué Obama, was arrested and detained.
Hearing word of his cousin’s arrest and fearing for his life, Alfredo, prepared to flee the country. He only made it as far as passport control. He was then handcuffed, his phone and passport were confiscated, and was bundled onto a military plane to an undisclosed location. For unknown reasons, Alfredo was then driven to his home in Bantu and is now being held under house arrest.
Unless you follow @PWYPTweets, @Global_Witness or @NRGInstitute, you may not have heard of this story. With the noble exception of US Senator Bob Menendez, the West’s political establishments have been notably silent.
The silence of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office speaks volumes, especially given the prominent role that UK-listed oil companies play in Equatorial Guinea. I was shocked to see that the FCO still lists the Equatorial Guinean political situation as “calm”.
The UK government is happy for its companies to make money out of a country. But when the politicians they do business with flout human rights, it’s mute.
Please share the tweets of @PWYPTweets, @Global_Witness and @NRGInstitute. Join with us to #FreeOkenve!
- Nicola Cullen