Cameroon film director kidnapped, tortured for ridiculing Biya

 

Cameroon's President Paul Biya waves as he leaves following a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

 

A young Cameroonian film director told AFP Monday he was kidnapped, interrogated for 11 days and tortured for a political fiction seen as lampooning President Paul Biya's longevity.

Richard Fouofie Djimili insists his film entitled "139… The Last Predators" about an imaginary nation's leader who has been in power 139 years and shows no sign of stepping down is not a reference to the 80-year-old Biya, who has been in power for three decades.

"I was abducted, held in a secret location for 11 days. During my detention, I was tortured. My finger was chopped off," Djimili said, showing off his bandaged left arm.

"I was starved and I lost around 10 kilos. On the night of April 2, my kidnappers wanted to kill me and dump me in a swamp but one of them helped me escape," he said.

Djimili said his troupe of actors had received a threatening text message two days before his abduction, following the film's release.

"Tell your friend Richard Fouofie he is digging his own grave. His film is part of a destabilisation plot that has already been unmasked. If he wants to play the patriot, he will be decapitated. Victory is near," he quoted the message as saying. Djimili said he was abducted by six men and held from March 23 to April 2.

"During my detention, my captors interrogated me almost daily on the film's funding," he said.

The young filmmaker said he was also asked about his ties to the Addec student organisation and to the family of Pius Njawe, a vocal opposition journalist who died in a 2010 car crash in the United States.

"I don't feel safe. I hardly set foot outside. I'm afraid of so many things: a bullet, a mugging, a fake accident," he said.

Action by Christians Against Torture recently issued a statement saying that the film's director and actors had been forced into hiding and condemning the government's passive attitude.

Paul Biya, one of only four African leaders to have been in power more than 30 years, has been routinely criticised for human rights violations. His latest election triumph — his sixth since coming to power in 1982 — came in 2011 and handed him another seven-year mandate after polls the opposition described as a sham.

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