In a letter CRNI’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award winner for 2017, Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé extends his thanks to all who supported him during his recently ended imprisonment and provides a harrowing account of life inside Malabo’s notorious Black Beach Prison.
Thank you for your support and encouragement during a difficult period in my life.
I never felt alone, as I knew you believed in me and defended my innocence, even though you did not know me. I owe you more than even I can imagine.
While the past eight and a half months in Equatorial Guinea have been a nightmare for me, your advocacy, your art, and your positive thought all helped me remain hopeful.
I’m grateful for your commitment to justice.
After all charges were dropped against me, and once I was released from Black Beach prison, I was very happy. I knew I would finally hug my daughter and wife again. I had not seen them for six months, and parts of me were dying as the days went by. My son, who directly experienced the nightmare with me never gave up hope, despite his youthful age. He joined the advocacy for my release and learned first hand that one can never be indifferent to injustice.
In prison I met many people unjustly convicted and forgotten by the judicial authorities. Thirty or more inmates filled cells built for two prisoners. I still vividly remember the cries of my prison companions on November 28th as they were being horribly tortured by armed and masked guards. That day the torture lasted for four long hours, from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m., when the guards finally got tired of beating them. I also cannot forget the moans of people who were being tortured in “Guantanamo,” the central jail where I was detained before I was transported to Black Beach prison. In Black Beach three people were left to die when the guards denied them medical attention. Others, companeras and comparers of the Ciudadanos por la Inovación political party, were referred to by the nickname of “broken hands,” given what the intense torture sessions had done to their limbs. I saw them in Black Beach before they were transported in metal cargo containers to the city of Bata. It is a painful and very personal realisation that there is no justice in today’s Equatorial Guinea. I will never forget my prison companions, as I understand that while my life was spared and my freedom secured thanks to the networks that brought you and I together, most people in my country do not have this luxury.
I kept myself busy in prison by drawing on cardboard scraps with the only pen they allowed me to have. Now I have access to endless amounts of paper and dozens of pens, pencils, and markers. I plan to use this larger arsenal to shine a light on the injustices and impunity that still besiege my country.
What you did for me, we can now do again for many others in my country. So, I am asking you to continue supporting me, EG Justice, and some courageous lawyers in Equatorial Guinea, as we work to free other political prisoners and hold government officials accountable for corruption. I do not have economic means, but now, with you and my pencils, I feel I have both the moral strength and the necessary resources to make a difference. Together, let’s keep alive the hope that many others in Equatorial Guinea will be free and they too can again hug their children and spouses.
Nothing would make me happier than turning Black Beach into a museum for human rights to commemorate those who perished and those who continue to suffer gross injustices in that prison.