Activist Story: Michel Thierry Antangana
Michel Thierry Antangana
On May 12, 1997 Michel Thierry Antangana was arrested by Cameroon officials on the grounds of “organized crime” and spent the next 17 years in captivity.
He was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison in an overnight trial and without access to counsel. For the next 2 years and 3 months Antangana was locked in 23 by 6 foot cell and was only allowed out for one hour a day. And in the 17 years he was held captive, Antangana only left prison for court hearings or the hospital to treat his wounds.
In 2011, after 14 years in captivity, John Marsh, Project Director at Freedom House, attended Antangana’s hearing. After meeting, Antangana and John came up with an action plan to get him out of prison. “His presence at each hearing was notable and important for me. Several times, he came to reassure me about the progress of our advocacy and cheer me up.”
Since his release in February 2014, Antangana has shared his experience with several human rights organizations to help spread the word on the abuses in Cameroon. As a result, the support committee SOS Racisme Cameroon, who helped him gain his freedom, was founded to help promote and defend human rights in Cameroon.
“When, on February 28, 2012, I received a letter from Freedom House addressed to the Cameroonian Minister of Justice, I realized that Freedom House was firmly committed to advocating for my release. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude.”
Cameroon is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2013. Cameroon’s courts have a long-standing reputation of being used as a tool of political retribution and score settling.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.