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Winner of the 2019 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Journalism Award, the Berlin-based Cameroonian journalist Mimi Mefo was one of less than a handful of reporters working without fear or favour in Cameroon’s climate of repression and self-censorship. An award-winning broadcast journalist at private media house Equinoxe TV and Radio, Mefo was arrested in November 2018 after she published reports that the military was behind the death of an American missionary in the country. Mefo reports on the escalating violence in the country’s western regions, a conflict that has become known as the “Anglophone Crisis” and is a leading voice in exposing the harassment of other Cameroonian journalists, calling publicly for the release of those jailed.
We caught up with Mefo to find out what she has been working on since winning the award in April and how being part of the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship has helped with this work.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1571926428871-f3c44e41-b5e4-10″ taxonomies=”9015″][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Mimi Mefo, winner of this year’s Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award, is due to give a keynote speech at the Integrity 20 conference in Brisbane. The conference, hosted by Griffith University, is an internationally renowned event bringing together the world’s leading thinkers and activists to discuss global issues.
Mefo is due to speak on Friday October 25 on media freedom and the challenges she faces as a journalist in Cameroon.
Her visa was refused because authorities said they “were not satisfied that the applicant’s employment and financial situation provide an incentive to return.”
Mimi – who flew to London in July from Berlin to speak as the guest of the UK government at a major global conference on media freedom – is currently working as a freelance journalist in Germany.
“Australia prides itself on its democratic values, including freedom of expression,” said Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg. “This means it needs to support and champion those being denied the right to speak in their own countries. Denying visas to journalists who have faced oppression and censorship in their own countries simply emboldens the oppressor.”
“It is frankly insulting and belittling to suggest Mimi Mefo would use the opportunity of this keynote to seek asylum in Australia.”
Mefo is due to fly from Australia straight to give the prestigious Carlos Cardoso memorial lecture at the 15th African Investigative Journalism Conference in South Africa on October 28, where Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz will give the keynote.
Contact: Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy, [email protected] + 44 (0)20 3848 9820[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1571649254262-2677266b-c9f9-2″ taxonomies=”8935″][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Index on Censorship calls on Cameroon to immediately release rapper and pro-democracy activist Gaston Serval Abe, known as General Valsero. He was detained near the site of a protest — he wasn’t participating in — in the capital Yaoundé in January and faces trial on 6 September.
Valsero’s pro-democracy messages and raps about the rights of the Cameroonian people have earned him a large following. He and other opposition activists are being held on charges that could carry the death penalty. Amnesty International has called for Valsero’s release.
United Nations experts expressed concerns about the crackdown on protests after the re-election of President Paul Biya in 2018 and called for the protection of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award winner Mimi Mefo has written for English PEN about writers, filmmakers and artists jailed for voicing political concern in Cameroon, including the case of Valsero.
Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy at Index said: “Index calls on the authorities of Cameroon to release Valsero immediately and to respect artists’ right to freedom of expression. His case demonstrates how Cameroon is failing to meet its international human rights obligations”.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text][socialpug_tweet tweet=”Cameroon must #FREEVALSERO Cameroonian hip-hop artist Valserio has been in prison since January. He is currently facing 8 charges, some of which carry the death penalty. Sign the @Amnesty petition calling for his release: https://join.amnesty.org/page/41188/petition/1?locale=en-UK” display_tweet=”Cameroon must #FREEVALSERO Cameroonian hip-hop artist Valserio has been in prison since January. He is currently facing 8 charges, some of which carry the death penalty. Sign the @Amnesty petition calling for his release: https://join.amnesty.org/page/41188/petition/1?locale=en-UK” remove_url=”yes” remove_username=”yes”][/vc_column_text][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1567601648304-b1cd5de8-37ee-0″ taxonomies=”6534″][/vc_column][/vc_row]
In this special edition of the Index on Censorship podcast, we celebrate the winners of the Freedom of Expression Awards 2019. Mimi Mefo, a leading voice in exposing the mistreatment of Cameroonian journalists, talks about press freedom in her country; Ritu Gairola, from Cartoonists Rights Network International, discusses why it is effective for cartoonists to use humour to convey political messages; Carolina Botero, from Fundación Karisma, reveals the online threats we should all know about; and Zehra Dogan*, a Kurdish painter and journalist, opens up about finding the courage to continue her work during her imprisonment.
Afterwards, we catch up with Terry Anderson, deputy executive director of CRNI, to learn more about threats to cartoonists worldwide.
The podcast can also be found on iTunes.
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