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Cameroonian Rapper and Activist to Appear Before Court, Could Face Death Penalty

PEN America calls for charges against pro-democracy activist Valsero to be dropped

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 5, 2019 PEN America
PEN America experts are available for interviews in English and French.//Les experts de PEN America sont disponibles pour des interviews en anglais et en français.

(New York, NY) – The arrest, ongoing detention, and charges against Cameroonian rapper Gaston Serval Abe, known as Valsero, are inexcusable violations of freedom artistic expression, PEN America said in a statement today. Arrested earlier this year in the vicinity of a pro-democracy demonstration, Valsero will appear before a military court Friday and could face the death penalty. He’s charged with rebellion against the state, terrorism, insurrection, inciting public disorder, and propagating false information.

“Valsero, along with his sound engineer, has been imprisoned for over six months for merely attending a peaceful march in protest of the last election results in Cameroon,” said Julie Trébault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “This is clearly a targeted attempt to silence an internationally known and beloved rapper who strives, both through his music and his activism, to critique the government and inspire social change. His ongoing detention in poor conditions and the exaggerated charges against him are an intolerable affront both to artistic freedom and human dignity. We urge the Cameroonian government to immediately drop the charges against Valsero and uphold its domestic and international commitments to protect freedom of expression and ensure that artists are free to create without fear”.

Critics say Valsero is being persecuted for his work, which often includes political themes. Songs like “Çe pays tue les jeunes” (“This country kills the youth”), “Ne me parlez plus de ce pays” (“Don’t talk about this country to me anymore”), and the well-known “Lettre au president” (“Letter to the President”) have earned both the ire of the government and admiration of fans across Cameroon. Many of his new songs reference current crises in Cameroon and the current government, in power for nearly four decades.

Although his work fell afoul of censorship laws, his 2008 debut album, “Poltiquement instable” (“Politically unstable”), became a runaway success, earning him the title “The General” from fans across the country. Beyond his rap career, he is also an engaged activist, starting initiatives such as “Jeune et Fort” (“Young and Strong”), which promotes education through citizenship, democracy, and electoral culture, and his new “Our Destiny” association, which aims to empower young people to take control of their existence for the benefit of the country.

Valsero was arrested on January 26 in Yaoundé on the margins of a peaceful demonstration protesting last year’s national elections, which many deemed to be rigged in support of the current president, Paul Biya. Maurice Kamto, the opposition leader, had organized marches all over the country on that day, but the protestors were met with widespread police suppression, and both Kamto and Valsero were detained. Valsero is not a member of the opposition party.

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, [email protected], +1 202 309 8892

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19 comments

  1. Life time to all of them.
    No exception. The law should apply

    • Short bonobo manjunga gulping baboon @mbappe. Pride and arrogance is all that is left of you cassava eating monkeys as power has completely eluded he Beti-Bulu cabal. Your octogenarian career election rigging president is beginning to hide behind Cardinal Tumi to beg for dialogue with Amba Boys. Tell cardinal Tumi we Ambazonians now have guns and as such we control our territory. Only a negotiated settlement and terms of separation shall be discussed on the table. Shove your federation garbage up your homosexual stink holes. Take this message to the smelly lass akwara whore @Bikutsi as well. It’s either Ambaland or we all die. And if all this is a ploy to manoeuvre through the September UNGA session of 2019, we shall be here again next year after taking control of Ambazonia 100%. Monkeys.

    • You are surely an idiot Mbappe. You Bulu Equato-Gabonese thieves truly hate Cameroon but rest assured that the Ambazonians will soon come to their senses and God will come to our rescue through unity. Don’t forget this primitive saying: 99 days for the thief one day for the owner. Your Bulu days in Cameroon are numbered. The Bulus who love Cameroon will be welcomed and those who love Gabon and Equatorial Guinea will be sent back to their country of origin.

      • If you have noticed, I do let you names, but will this time.
        You are the idiot, moron, a real m&$&fucker here.
        Do you really believe the majority of the population hates Biya just because he is bulu/beti as you are suggesting the bulus/betis should
        Move to eq or Gabon.
        You are just an idiom as the same could be said about you to move to Nigeria.
        By landmass you could move to Nigeria and nobody will notice while if betis have to move, Cameroon will be no more.
        Got it ignoramus.
        Betis are borned to rule

        • I didn’t say Bulu/Beti, I said Bulu. Stop including the Ewondos. They don’t like you people and they are not from Gabon or Equatorial Guinea. Nobody in Cameroon loves Biya except some few Bulus. keep on deceiving yourself that Biya is loved by Cameroonians. Do you remember the insults on Ahidjo when he left office? Some of his supporters who reason like you also thought he was loved by Cameroonians. For your information I never came from Nigeria. I am a free born from Santa man Mvog Fouda. You Bulus have destroyed Cameroon and now you want to involve the Ewondos. Minalmi.

      • If you have noticed, I do let you names, but will this time.
        You are the idiot, moron, a real m&$&ker here.
        Do you really believe the majority of the population hates Biya just because he is bulu/beti as you are suggesting the bulus/betis should
        Move to eq or Gabon.
        You are just an idiot as the same could be said about you to move to Nigeria.
        By landmass you could move to Nigeria and nobody will notice while if betis have to move, Cameroon will be no more.
        Got it ignoramus.
        Betis are borned to rule

        • @Mbappe
          They are so confortable here when they cosh the Beti day in, day out. But when you give them the taste of their own medicin they get mad and call you “tribalist “.
          Very confused people. They don’t even know what they want anymore.
          The Beti are borned to rule. Our fathers teach us that from day one.
          The word “Beti” is the plural form of the word “Eti ” that means “Allmighty ” “Untouchable ” “God ” in the fang language.

          People should stop with their nonsens and just carry our bags.
          Btw: Abe Gaston allias general Valsero, a good freind of mine is 100% Beti.
          The Biya regime don’t care about your origin.
          When some ignorants will understand the difference between the regime and the people, that will be a great start.

        • I REPEAT, I NEVER SAID BULU/BETI. I SAID BULU. LEAVE THE EWONDO PEOPLE OUT OF THIS. THEY DIDN’T DESTROY THE COUNTRY, IT IS THE BULU PEOPLE WHO DID.

      • Kikikikiki, Bami, Beti, Bulu, Anglo, Franco…all nonsense.

        Our enemy is the Etoudi gang, that’s where we should focuse our energy.
        All this Beti-Bulu folly is just a distraction.

        The Beti folks I knew as a boy growing up were a hard-workiing set of pple. They were among the best farmers (especially cacoa) in Africa. It is just a pity that those gangsters at Etoudi misused and misled some them into believing that they could abandon their farms for njoh state money, and survive.

        In the new CMR, all folks are going to revive their old talents, prior to the advent of Etoudi wizards, and make good use of it.

        Survivival will be dependant on talent and very hard work, as no federal state will be willing to work for others to enjoy the fruits of their labour…

        • Kikikikiki, Bami, Beti, Bulu, Anglo, Franco…all nonsense.

          Our enemy is the Etoudi gang, that’s where we should focus our energy.
          All this Beti-Bulu folly is just a distraction.

          The Beti folks I knew as a boy growing up were a hard-working set of pple. They were among the best farmers (especially cocoa) in Africa. It is just a pity that those gangsters at Etoudi misused and misled some them into believing that they could abandon their farms for njoh state money, and survive.

          In the new CMR, all folks are going to revive their old talents, prior to the advent of Etoudi wizards, and make good use of it.

          Survival will be dependant on talent and very hard work, as no federal state will be willing to work for others to enjoy the fruits of their labour

    • You are so sick. yisshhh.

  2. As i said and will continue to say..
    You can take a Gorilla out of the Jungle, but you will never take the jungle out of the Gorilla..
    Where are we today in Cameroon?..
    Some primitive retarded group has taken the laws in to their hands..
    – When u protest u end up in Jail..
    – when you say the truth, u go to jail..
    – When u are not CPDM, its a crime.
    – When you are MRC, seems like u are an enemy of Democracy
    Take a look how the country is falling apart..1984, these forest Gorillas slaughtered people from the north, in 1992 after stealing elections, the Southern Cameroonians were targeted…2019 after stealing elections again, its the time of the Bamis and MRC.
    While Southern Cameroonians are being raped and killed since 2016.
    When do you folks want to stand up? too much bread and sardine?

    • @ Biko the only way to eradicate these idiots like Mpappe is for us to come back to our senses. Stop this Ambazonia foolishness and form a strong united front composed of all Cameroonians who love our country. Biya and his master France strive for more of our division to control our country and that’s exactly what the Ambazonians are doing.

    • Biko the little poor tribalist
      Who is your ennemy?
      Do you know that Abe Gaston allias Valsero is 100%Beti?
      Your hate for the Beti is blinding you.
      Why hate a group of people because of one man?
      The Beti are not even majority in the Biya regime.
      You find more Anglo/Bami and the northeners in that regime than the Beti.
      The Bulu population is not even 1 million. Don’t hate us because we are smarter than you.
      Prov to us that you can rule the contry, then we wil give you the keys. You have been just mediocre so far…

      • The Bulu population mostly East province is only 1 million yet the budget allocation for this dark jungle of 1 million exceeds that of the NW and SW with a combined population of > 5 million. See how you idiots expose your own wickedness and thievery? 1 million people with the same Senators, MPs, Councillors, Governor, DOs, SDOs, as 2.5 million people! More tarred roads than the busy NW and SW contributing 70% of national revenue. Born to rule with dullness by converting live active places to hell holes out of mere hate indeed.

        • Cameroon is in deep [email protected]$t with people like you.
          You have to be sent to a re-education center.
          You are lost.

        • @mbappe gorilla donkey

          Add to these over 30 ministers, almost 100 state directors and general managers and over 100 appointed military generals/colonels/captains and your gorilla head can see why Ambazonia will fight till
          Independence come. That’s all your swine head can do; make psycho references without any substance coming from your odontol rotting brain. Tribal bigots.

        • @L’enemie,

          Amba boys are now killing only their own kinds.

          Is that what you want to install in Amba FB R? Taliban liké you!

          Anyway, meik ah first lef wuna ethno-facists dem for dis forum kill wuna first under dis caption b4 ah continue ma tok for you…

  3. Gerald Durrel, who wrote the Bafut Beagles, called it `The drunken forest`in his other book.
    That is the poorest democracy, that the world has ever known..

at venenatis eleifend Aenean mattis libero. tristique quis