Equatorial Guinea detains human rights campaigner

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Equatorial Guinea has held a human rights campaigner in detention for 18 days after he assisted opposition activists when their party headquarters were besieged by police, his lawyer and wife told AFP on Thursday.

The justice ministry refused to comment on the report when contacted by AFP.

Anacleto Micha Nlang, co-founder of the banned rights group “Guinea is also ours” was arrested on September 25 after returning from the offices of the Citizens for Innovation (CI) party. He had delivered food to families  – including women and children – under siege there, his wife Montserrat Mikue and lawyer Evaristo Nguema Elo confirmed to AFP.

The small, Spanish-speaking central African country is one of the most closed and authoritarian in the world. It is led by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the world’s longest-serving incumbent president, who has been in power since 1979.

In 2021, Reporters Without Borders ranked Equatorial Guinea at 164 among 180 countries in its press freedom index.

With presidential, legislative and municipal elections just over a month away, authorities have stepped up arrests in recent weeks.

State media has justified the crackdown as a bid to counter a “foiled plot” by the opposition to carry out attacks on embassies, petrol stations and the homes of ministers.

On September 30, after a siege lasting more than a week, security forces stormed the home of CI leader Gabriel Nse Obiang Obono, whose house had also served as an office for the banned party since 2018.

The assault left five dead – four activists and a policeman, according to authorities.

Dozens were injured and more than 150 people were arrested from among the 200 who had camped out there, including Obono.

The authorities said they stormed the building to detain the CI chief who refused to surrender to a court warrant as part of the investigation into the alleged plot.

Nlang was detained at Malabo’s central police station before being transferred on October 11 to Black Beach prison, also in the capital, his lawyer and the Somos+ Sociedad Civil rights group told AFP.

“He has been transferred to the world’s worst prison, Black Beach,” the group said in a statement, alleging a “policy of terror.”