Cameroon: Lapiro shortlisted for global award



Lapiro de Mbanga shortlisted for global award

High profiled panel with conductor Daniel Barenboim points at imprisoned musician Lapiro for the final shortlist of The Orient Global Freedom to Create Prize. Meanwhile, a lawyers organisation backed up by former president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel, joins the Freemuse campaign for the singer’s release.

Lapiro de Mbanga has been shortlisted for ‘The Orient Global Freedom to Create Prize’. Nominated by Freemuse, Lapiro was selected for the “Imprisoned Artist” Category by a panel consisting of conductor Daniel Barenboim, Time Out founder Tony Elliott, activist and co-founder of the Elders, Ela Bhatt, and leading human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, among others..

The Freedom to Create Prize consists of three categories. Another artist featured on with a video interview, Aziza Brahim from Western Sahara, is shortlisted for the main category of the Freedom to Create Prize.

Crucial time
“The shortlisting of Lapiro comes at a crucial time,” told Ole Reitov, who coordinates the Freemuse campaign for the release of Lapiro.

Earlier this month, a US-based lawyers’ advocacy organisation Freedom Now announced that it is now officially monitoring his case.

“With Freedom Now, International PEN, IFEX, Mondomix, Vigier Guitars and Freemuse joining forces the message to the president of Cameroon is very clear: Release Lapiro now!” Ole Reitov said.

Musicians exceptionally powerful
In an interview with Radio France International in the first week of October 2009, Maran Turner, Executive Director of Freedom Now, said:

“Musicians [such as Lapiro] that decide to become politically active and utilize their music as a tool to voice dissent are in my mind nothing short of magic and exceptionally powerful and more meaningful to the people in Cameroon, than I think, anything else.”

1,000 nominations
Lapiro is one of three artists short nominated on the shortlist for the Imprisoned Artist Prize. The others are Iranian filmmaker and journalist Maziar Bahari, and Burmese poet and installation artist Saw Wei.

A single prize of 25,000 US dollars will be directed towards securing the winning artists’ release, advocating on his/her behalf and cause, and providing a measure of support to their family/families.

The winners of this year’s award will be announced at a ceremony to be held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK, on 25 November 2009. Created last year by Orient Global, a Singapore-based private investment group, this year’s prize has received over 1,000 nominations from over 100 countries.

Prize donated to Freemuse CD album
Freemuse last year nominated Deeyah and Ferhat Tunç. Deeyah was awarded with the 3rd prize in the main category, and she donated the money to the realization of the forthcoming Freemuse CD ‘Listen to the banned’ which will be released on 3 March 2010 – the annual Music Freedom Day.

Typhoid fever
Freemuse succeeded conveying the shortlist nomination to Lapiro de Mbanga in his prison cell.

“This makes me very, very happy,” said Lapiro, who revealed that he had also been able to listen to the RFI program recently broadcasted about his case.

Lapiro de Mbanga has been suffering from effects of typhoid fever for several months.

In a report published in June 2009, UNHCR — the UN Refugee Agency — included Lapiro de Mbanga as one of the human rights defenders that needed “urgent intervention”.

International PEN: focus on Lapiro
The International PEN Writers in Prison Committees has decided to focus on Lapiro de Mbanga’s case on the Day of the Imprisoned Writer — as one of five cases which on 15 November 2009 will be commemorated for their courage and celebrated for their defence of freedom of expression. On this day, PEN members send appeals and organise a variety of events, honouring their imprisoned colleagues.

Freedom Now: focus on Lapiro
The mission of Freedom Now is “to free prisoners of conscience through focused legal, political, and public relations advocacy efforts.” Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, and Desmond M. Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, are honorary co-chairs of Freedom Now.

The organisation is currently involved in several campaigns, including a release petition for Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Campaign at Womex
At the World Music Expo WOMEX which takes place in the last week of October 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, gathering 3,000 delegates from all over the world, Freemuse will inform about the latest actions in favour of Lapiro. These include a Mondomix CD of previous unreleased music by African Artists and the petition by Lapiro’s guitar providers Vigier. (More about this meeting)

Freemuse Executive Director Marie Korpe said:
“The shortlisting of Lapiro de Mbanga is a very important addition to the international campaigns for the release of Lapiro de Mbanga. The case against Lapiro shows how far a repressive regime will go in silencing oppositional voices and that they acknowledge and fear that music can be a very powerful tool for oppositional voices.”

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Click to read more about Lapiro de Mbanga's case

Click to sign petition
 Sign petition

Click to listen to Lapiro's banned song

Click to read more about music censorship in Cameroon

Click to go to
 Freedom Now
 was founded
 in 2002

Click to read about the Freemuse CD album 'Listen to the banned'
 Press release
 about the
 CD album

International PEN:

‘Songwriter sentenced to three years’ imprisonment’

Click to go to International Pen's home page

Click to sign the petition online

Sign Freemuse petition for immidiate
release of Lapiro de Mbanga

Read and listen

Radio France International – 16 October 2009:
‘Campaign to free Cameroon singer Lapiro de Mbanga’

This RFI radio report by Daniel Brown includes interviews of Augustin and Maran, lawyers in Cameroon and the US who are working to have Lapiro released

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100 languages for Lapiro

Do you speak Corean, Polish, Basque, Mooré Swedish, Wolof or any other language? Then you can join a project on to help Lapiro de Mbanga.

During a number of weeks, musicians who use the MyMondomix network are working together to help Lapiro. They are preparing a compilation that will be distributed free of charge to all Internet users who sign a petition to have Lapiro liberated. The musicians have already come far and are working on the way this compilation should sound.

And that’s where they need your help. To create a transition from one song to another, they will use voices saying in different languages what the compilation is about. If you’d like to help the musicians, what you have to do is:

1. Translate into your language this sentence: »In Cameroon, the singer Lapiro is still imprisoned, because one of his songs was not well received by the authorities «.

2. Say this sentence as if you were a speaker giving news on a radio

3. Record yourself doing that

4. Send the recording as an mp3 file to the email-address:

About is an on-line service allowing our members to create unique personal profiles which can be connected through networks.

Daily Nation – 27 October 2009:
Groups Rally for Cameroonian Jailed for ‘Constipation’ Song

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