Showing our support for Charles Atangana
UPDATE: Just received the great news that Charles has been granted bail – A vital temporary victory. Now the NUJ will continue to campaign for Charles to be allowed to remain in safety in the UK.
I joined members of my union, the National Union of Journalists, at a demonstration today as NUJ member Charles Atangana faced the latest chapter in his fight to stay in the UK. Around 30 of us gathered outside his bail hearing in central London to support Charles, who faces deportation back to Cameroon where his life would be in serious danger.
NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, told us of the beatings and torture Charles faced when imprisoned in Cameroon. He also spoke about how he has been detained once again in the UK as his request for asylum was turned down. Jeremy described how Charles’ case is gaining more and more public support. He read out messages of support from Brendan Barber, John McDonnell MP and PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, as well as a message from Charles himself, who could not attend his own hearing as he remains in detention in Dover Immigration Removal Centre.
I spoke briefly about how hundreds of journalists are killed year on year and thousands more are attacked or imprisoned.
Governments, political groups and criminal gangs, not just in Cameroon, but also in Gambia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Russia and elsewhere believe they can just kill journalists and get away with it. And they’re right. The many fine words from the UN and governments have not translated into any real action to protect journalists.
Strange as it sounds in his current condition, Charles is in fact one of the lucky ones – he escaped, at least for now. He thought he was coming to a country where freedom of expression and the media were protected.
Charles has continued to write about Cameroon while in the UK, he has received death threats as a result. As Jeremy Dear pointed out, when the NUJ described their success in delaying his deportation as a “stay of execution”, they didn’t realise quite how accurate that was.