The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky on January 29, 1978 · Page 17
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The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky · Page 17

Louisville, Kentucky
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 29, 1978
Page 17
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A 1: Thousands of political slayings reported in African nation THE COURIER-JOURNAL, SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 1978 NIGERIA ) CAMEROON 1 Oouala : 7 mmmk, :-fsiiiiiii. ft'.;. men combed the country for him with a death warrant signed by Macias. Ekong, 37, now lives in relaxed "protective custody" in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde and is trying to rally fellow refugees to overthrow the Macias regime. In an interview, Ekong said he had spent four years in the prison in Malabo, the capital, for having spoken out against the mass killings as a member of Macias' cabinet. From 1971 to 1975, Ekong said, he was kept naked in a cell seven feet long and two feet wide, with only the concrete floor to sleep on. "Each Saturday morning, every political prisoner including myself received 150 strokes with a metal rod," he said. Ekong said he kept a careful count of the prisoners clubbed to death in the courtyard of the prison. "Their screams stopped when their backs were broken," he said. For each death, he made a mark on his cell wall 157 over four years, he said. Others were luckier: They were taken outside and executed in public by firing squad, Ekong said. Almost all of those executed were political prisoners, he said. Malabo is on Fernando Poo, now re named Macias Nguema Biyogo Island, where about 25 percent of the population lives. Ekong, whose story could not be confirmed independently, said most of the murders occurred on the mainland. A Cameroonian diplomat who recently ended an assignment in Malabo said Macias seemed intent on wiping out all local political leaders, government officials, professional men, businessmen and intellectuals who do not belong to his immediate tribal group. Practically all those who might have directed an opposition group are dead or in exile, he said, while the largely illiterate general population accepts the regime with "hopeless resignation." The economy is reportedly shattered, with cocoa exports, the country's mainstay, down from 40,000 tons a year at independence to 6,000 tons. The only Western ambassador still residing in Equatorial Guinea is France's Jacques Fournier, who is trying to protect the dwindling French commercial interests in the country. A former member of Fournier's staff said the general atmosphere "is that of a concentration camp." "A high wall surrounds the government compound in the center of Malabo businessmen and technicians tell of the harsh oppression. They say that Macias, a member of the majority Fang tribe, is backed by a ruthless militia drawn from his own tribal district and by hundreds of Cubans, Russians and Chinese. He has imposed an ostensibly Marxist regime and expelled all American diplomats. An estimated 145,000 refugees almost half the country's original population have fled to neighboring Cameroon and Gabon or to Nigeria or Spain. There are no exact figures available on the number of people killed, but trustworthy sources say they must be counted in the tens of thousands. The World Council of Churches, Amnesty International and the London-based Anti-Slavery Society have condemned the reported systematic killings, torture and forced labor, and have denounced the Macias regime as "among the most brutal and unpredictable in the world." At least seven of Macias' former government ministers are known to have been executed. Another minister, former Health Minister Pedro Ekong Andeme, claims to have escaped by walking for two days through the tropical forest while militia . . .," he said. "Only trusted members of the regime are allowed through the wall. Inside the compound, the Roman Catholic cathedral is closed and boarded up. . . . "The shops are almost empty. . . . Clothing is rationed. . . . One recent electricity breakdown lasted three weeks." One refugee, former Army Lt. Eusta-chio Mba, 28, said he fled Equatorial Guinea after being ordered to take part in random executions. He said two of his brothers were later killed. Spain broke relations with its former colony last March after Macias publicly insulted King Juan Carlos in a speech. The last U.S. ambassador, Herbert J. Spiro, was expelled a year earlier, after being accused of being "a criminal spy for international imperialism." A handful of Roman Catholic priests and missionaries continue a precarious existence in Equatorial Guinea, subject to constant government suspicion and harassment. One of them, on a "rest and recuperation" visit to Cameroon, said "we tend to regard ourselves as voluntary hostages." By MICHAEL GOLDSMITH Associated Press DOUALA, Cameroon Tens of thousands of people are reported to have been executed or to have vanished without a trace in the little more than nine years since neighboring Equatorial Guinea gained independence from Spain. Almost half the population has fled, and those remaining live in an atmosphere of terror, according to reports reaching outside the country. Diplomats and refugees paint a grim picture of life in the isolated land, which is situated at the great bend in Africa's west coast just north of the Equator. They say that dissent is punished by death and that the most frequent method of execution is by soldiers beating victims to death. The country of 10,800 square miles slightly more than one-fourth the size of Kentucky became independent of the Spanish colonial administration in October 1968. Since then it has been ruled by a former civil servant, Macias Nguena Biyogo. Most reporters are barred from the country, so first-hand confirmation of conditions there is practically impossible. But refugees, diplomats, foreign 2 mm it fte'",,le GABON Ote 100 Miles Charge-It! ON SALE TODAY THRU WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1 r-ftia&Eiscewuow! 1? 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