The arrest of Enrique Asumu and Alfredo Okenve, leaders of the independent NGO CEID in Equatorial Guinea, is prompting concern among human rights and democracy advocates. The activists were reportedly arrested by the Ministry of National Security at the request of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Clemente Engonga Nguema Onguene.
“The arrest of Alfredo and Enrique has no legal basis, is arbitrary, disproportionate, and violates the rights and freedoms of these two activists,” CEID said in a statement.
The activists, detained shortly after an event celebrating CEID’s 20th anniversary of its foundation, are reportedly being held in the notorious ‘Guantanamo’ prison. The government also intends to fine CEID with 10 million FCFA (approx. US$16,000) for operating while suspended. CEID is concerned that more members will be arrested, having been “summoned” to give a statement regarding their participation in the 20th anniversary celebration.
“CEID has been operating regularly since last September, when it announced the resumption of its activities. Since then CEID has organized or participated in various activities with the presence of different ministries, including the Prime Minister, Pascual Obama Asue,” the group said.
It denounced the government’s act of “intimidation” as proof of the harassment of civil society “that CEID has been denouncing for a long time and that have hindered the participation of Equatorial Guinea in the EITI [Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative] process.”
“We ask the national civil society in particular, national and international institutions, embassies, etc. to join our demand for the immediate release from the so called ‘Guantanamo’ prison of Enrique Asumu and Alfredo Okenve,” it added.