We just received notice that the first edition of the Cameroon Human Rights Film Festival to be held in the capital city of Yaoundé has been suspended by the authorities as it was being inaugurated. ”The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court” was scheduled to play there. Here is the communiqué we received:
The first edition of the Yaoundé International Human Rights Film Festival suspended by the Cameroonian authorities
Yaoundé, 13 April 2011 – Yesterday, 12 April 2011, the Yaoundé prefecture issued a suspension of a public event autorisation, thereby calling off this first edition of the International Human Rights Film Festival in Yaoundé.
Yesterday at the French Cultural Centre, the opening ceremony of the Festival was cancelled at 6 pm in the presence of its audience, guests and journalists. The shows and open air screenings planned at 6.30 pm in Elig Edzoa / Bénoué were also suspended by the authorities.
The festival organisers acknowledged the prefect’s decision and informed the public that the various screenings and activities planned (Mendong, Université Yaoundé 2, Elig Edzoa et Briqueterie) were cancelled.
This suspension occurs in such an international political context as to explain somewhat the nervousness around discussing certain human rights issues in Cameroon. « Given the reasons specified by the authorities, we think that this is a politically- motivated refusal to discuss problems relating to human righs in Cameroon. We deplore this situation et regret that dialogue around human rights can not be held dispassionately in Cameroon », said Festival director Vincent Mercier.
The Cameroonian authorities have suspended an event that was to provide dialogue, meetings and exchanges to become a place for the expression of a democratic culture. The showcased films had already been screened in various African contries and the Festival has already taken place peacefully in a number of countries on the continent.
The organisers deplore this decision first and foremost for what it means in regards to the people of Yaoundé, deprived of this cultural get together whose sole ambition was to provide a platform for debate and discussion on human rights.
The first edition of the Yaoundé International Human Rights Film Festival is organised by the association Alliance Ciné, in partnership with the Kofi Annan International association for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Peace, in collaboration with Espace Lumière and the Mis Me Binga Festival.
This initiative is financially supported by the European Union.
The European Union is made up of 27 member states that had decided to gradually pool together their know-how, their ressources and their destinies. Together, during a period of expansion of over 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst retaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedom. The European Union is determined to share its achievements and values with the countries and peoples outside its borders.