A Year Since My Imprisonment
A Year Since My ImprisonmentDr. Wenceslao Mansogo Alo February 18, 2013
Dr. Wenceslao Mansogo Alo reflects about his imprisonment and subsequent trial by a legal system devoid of due process. Lessons learned and paths to the future for the people of Equatorial Guinea are also part of his open letter.
A Year Since My Imprisonment
Doctor Wenceslao Mansogo Alo
Bata, Guinea Ecuatorial, February 9, 2013
A year ago I went to Bata’s public prison
A year ago, on February 9, 2012, I was arrested after willingly appearing before the Police to declare my patient’s death during a surgical procedure at my clinic. As if some higher authority was issuing orders, the Police sent me to Judge Agustín Chicampo, who then sent me directly to the Bata public prison without much consideration, and stating that, “my case was complicated”. They accused me of mutilating my patient’s corpse.
The trial, or more specifically the “political process against me”, was held at the law court in Bata on April 5-6, 2012, falling on Holy Wednesday and Thursday. I was prosecuted by a biased court, which clearly had orders to accuse me of any crime. For over three hours, I was subjected to the most nonsensical questions I could imagine. They were judges and people who did not understood much about medicine, but still prosecuted me on highly specialized medical matters (a medical association is not approved in Equatorial Guinea). They could not prove the mutilation charges because their doctor, Salomón Nguema, confirmed that it was all made up by them; a lie. As a result, they changed their allegations during the legal process. They later accused me of professional negligence and unskillfulness leading to my patient’s death due to anesthetic error. The doctors at the Bata Hospital were requested to testify, and demonstrated that no anesthetic error occurred. However, throughout the hearing, prosecutor Claudio Ndogula engaged in several phone calls while insisting on demonstrating that I caused an anesthetic error.
Members of the ruling party PDGE, led by their Secretary General, Lucas Nguema Esono, and other important members of the government attended the trial. I asked myself: Why were they at my trial? What were they looking for? Who called them? One of many things that became apparent throughout the hearing was the fact that the family of the deceased patient, who were also the complainants, desecrated the corpse and hid the evidence. As result, the presiding judge, Eliseo Mengue, requested their testimony at the trial. That never happened.
The sentence imposed on me was based upon avid desires from the government to destroy me: three years of imprisonment, five years’ suspension of practice, the clinic was closed for three years, and 1 million Francs CFAs, in compensation to the victims. They could not accept the fact that I run a clinic, which empowers me with autonomy. Therefore, my lawyer and I decided to appeal to the Supreme Court in order to exhaust all legal options. During that same period, my pardon was granted and I was released, though the sentence was not conclusive.
And then what happened?
My lawyer, Ponciano Mbomio Nvo, was banned from practicing law by the Equatorial Guinea Bar Association. He exposed their intentions during the hearing. He was accused of insulting the President during his oral argument. Ponciano filed an appeal to the Bar Association that has not yet been reviewed. Nevertheless, it is important to state that they are after Ponciano for a lot of other reasons. I resumed my professional activities; no one has directly bothered me again, and patients keep coming to my clinic. The Supreme Court reviewed my appeal at the end of 2012, but has not yet made a statement.
So now what?
Now, I continue to live a simple life. I am devoted to my profession and my political activism. I have learned more about the causes, motives, and instigators of my case, which helps me to better comprehend people’s behavior. I have also traveled a lot since my release from prison, giving me the opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and establish new ones.
But the reasons for our struggle in Equatorial Guinea have not disappeared. The dictatorship, deep inequalities in our society, corruption, poverty, etc., are still ubiquitous. Our need to remind the regime about the evil and injustice of its ruling has not vanished. That is why I continue condemning the violations of the rights of my fellow Equatoguineans, the lack of freedom, and vast inequalities that expand in our society. Socially, we live among signs that constantly remind us of the poverty that surrounds us: lack of water, electricity, roads in poor conditions, students who have completed their secondary education and do not know where to go or what to do, a university that it is not able to provide an education worth naming, hunger, misery, disease and poor health of the population; also, hospitals without drugs and attention, inadequate and unhealthy housing, or poorly paid employees’ salaries expropriated by the regime, opponents banned from the labor market, alcoholism, disturbing juvenile delinquency, etc., etc. Our society lives in a collective failure and deep degradation of civic and moral values. I would not accept our downfall. I attempt to aid with my small contribution to the fight against this. As Adam Smith said, and I believe: “No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the greater part of the members are poor and miserable”. Perhaps, it seems like Adam Smith was referring to the people of Guinea. The duty of each Guinean is to fight against the oppression, and someday, because of the work that we do today and the risk we take of being imprisoned, our children will finally be free and happy.
And what about the future?
I will continue to offer services to my patients, and will also continue to fight against the dictatorship. I am practicing my profession. And for all the people who falsely accused me and came to my trial with mischievous intentions, I have been the doctor of at least one of their family members, if not the doctor of themselves personally. And I mean all of them.
Many members of the regime that governs my country resent my activism and would like to end my career. They already forced me to leave the public hospital when I arrived in the country, and now they would like to see me begging in the streets asking them for food. Perhaps it will happen, but it would be the type of pleasure that I would hardly give them. However, I promise to continue serving, not only to the general population, but also to their families, with the same enthusiasm and the same sense of responsibility. This is the way my mentors taught me.
As I have been saying, I chose the political path for the struggle against the dictatorship, always rejecting violence as a mechanism to gain power. As our German social democrat friends Christian Krell and Julia Bläsius said: Politics need a clear direction. Only those who can clearly define the objectives of our actions will also be able to achieve these and many other goals.
Now I am committed to human rights and international relations at the CPDS; those are activities that I am passionate about and I think Guineans must believe in the upcoming changes. I will continue to work with my party to find a consensus with the few groups that demonstrate a sense of nationhood and who genuinely desire a change of regime in Equatorial Guinea. I am proposing, along with the CPDS, a critical dialog with the administration. I will continue condemning abuses; I will carry all the necessary political and diplomatic actions against the maneuvers of the dictatorship that intends to neutralize the opposition, including the small factions created within parties to separate them, or the creation of an opposition to the opposition inside and outside the country. In short, as I said during my trial, I prefer to live in the way I think, because those who do not live in the same way they think end up thinking as the way they live.