See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

US, Equatorial Guinea: Rebranding an African Dictator

Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema plans to re-brand himself with the help of the Leon H Sullivan Foundation, a US-based human rights group.

The group has chosen Equatorial Guinea as the host of this year's Ninth Biennial Sullivan Summit. The foundation uses the biennial summit as a space for discussions and dialogue about solutions for Africa's problems. The summit is expected to attract high-profile world leaders, musicians and civil rights activists.

Since Obiang is Africa's longest-serving dictator and has a reputation of being brutal and corrupt [pdf], social media users from all over the world and human rights groups such as the Human Rights Foundation are asking the organizers to cancel the summit.

Human Rights Watch says the following about Obiang and his government:

Equatorial Guinea remains mired in corruption, poverty, and repression under President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has been in power since 1979. Vast oil revenues fund lavish lifestyles for the small elite surrounding the president, while most of the population lives in poverty. The government regularly engages in torture and arbitrary detention. Journalists, civil society groups, and members of the political opposition face heavy government repression. To date, President Obiang and his family are the subject of multiple foreign corruption investigations.

In October 2010, UNESCO suspended plans to grant a controversial prize named after Obiang after human rights groups criticized the UN agency citing Obiang's poor human rights record.

The Leon H. Sullivan Foundation has responded to criticism by releasing the YouTube video below:

Accompanying the video is this message:

Vocal Civil Rights organizations in the US are pressuring the Leon H. Sullivan Summit to CANCEL its Summit in Equatorial Guinea. This video expresses the rationale for our steadfast decision to continue our plans to hold the 9th Sullivan Summit of African nations in the country which hosted the African Union just last year. The President, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, elected by the leaders of African nations as their Chairman.
The Leon H. Sullivan Summit hosts this summit every two years in African countries that are in good standing and members of the African Union.
Please join us. The Sullivan Summit is a diaspora driven conference that celebrates all of Africa.
One love.
We will not be moved.
Peace,
The Sullivan Summit

The Human Rights Foundation responded with this press release and this tweet:

@HumanRightsFdn: @SullivanFound just released video responding 2 us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4iAd68kWjw&feature=autoshare … Doesn't explain anything, it answers nothing: http://humanrightsfoundation.org/media/sullivan-foundation-on-the-defense-8-7-2012.php …

Twitter campaign

The Human Rights Foundation launched an aggressive Twitter campaign to raise awareness:

@HumanRightsFdn: This is equivalent of organising conference on free speech in North Korea-then getting Kim Jong-un to cut the ribbon @guyadams @Independent

@africamedia_CPJ: @SullivanFound Dictator's talk of change has been spin, PR. Obiang continuing abuse. #sullivansummit will be shoe polish for his jackboot.

@EGJustice: Kudos to @HumanRightsFdn for fact-checking erroneous claims in press release by @SullivanFound. http://bit.ly/QHqIeP #SullivanSummit

@TutuAlicante: French gov't seizes Obiang mansion, but @SullivanFound @AmbAndrewYoung @yorubagal plow forward w/ plans to glorify Obiang at #SullivanSummit

@AfricaOnTheMove: This Sullivan Summit is shameful. Good for HRF [Human Rights Foundation] and Reuters for flagging it. @kelvinnews

@EGJustice: @KarenAttiah exposes effort by @SullivanFound to pressure journalists to give the #SullivanSummit favorable press. http://www.themorningsidepost.com/2012/08/08/commentary-hope-sullivan-masters-is-defending-the-indefensible/#.UCLHWH45bX0.twitter

@guyadams:Just some of Teodorin Obiang's spectacular corruption is detailed here http://ind.pn/Lu5w91 Amazed @sullivanfound will take his money

@KarenAttiah: My piece on the @SullivanFound “How A Dictator Pays for Influence”: http://bit.ly/PANEp8 #Obiang #sullivansummit cc @tmsruge @Semhar

@HumanRightsFdn: High volume of tweets to raise invitees awareness about @SullivanFound's dictator summit in Eq. Guinea. Help us out by RT'ing. Thanks!

Sullivan Summit advertisement on a bus in Washington, D.C. Image source: ‏@ThorHalvorssen

Name and shame

@HumanRightsFdn: Acc. 2 media, @RevJJackson offered trip, all-expenses-paid by #dictator Obiang, 2 @SullivanFound summit. Learn more: http://humanrightsfoundation.org/media/sullivan-foundation-on-the-defense-8-7-2012.php …

@HumanRightsFdn: Acc. 2 media, @TheRevAl offered trip, all-expenses-paid by #dictator Obiang, 2 @SullivanFound summit. Learn more: http://humanrightsfoundation.org/media/sullivan-foundation-on-the-defense-8-7-2012.php …

@HumanRightsFdn: Acc. 2 media, @IAmMikkiTaylor offered trip, all-expenses-paid by #dictator Obiang, 2 @SullivanFound summit. Learn more: http://humanrightsfoundation.org/media/sullivan-foundation-on-the-defense-8-7-2012.php …

@HumanRightsFdn: Acc. 2 media, @EarlMonroe15 offered trip, all-expenses-paid by #dictator Obiang, 2 @SullivanFound summit. Learn more: http://humanrightsfoundation.org/media/sullivan-foundation-on-the-defense-8-7-2012.php …

@HumanRightsFdn: Acc. 2 media, @PhyliciaRashad offered trip, all-expenses-paid by #dictator Obiang, 2 @SullivanFound summit. Learn more: http://humanrightsfoundation.org/media/sullivan-foundation-on-the-defense-8-7-2012.php …

@HumanRightsFdn: Acc. 2 media, @LouisGossettJr offered trip, all-expenses-paid by #dictator Obiang, 2 @SullivanFound summit. Learn more: http://humanrightsfoundation.org/media/sullivan-foundation-on-the-defense-8-7-2012.php …

Will you be attending? :

@HumanRightsFdn: @TerrieWilliams Media says you were invited to @Sullivanfound summit hosted by Obiang in Equatorial Guinea. Will you be attending?

@HumanRightsFdn: @randalpinkett Media says you were invited to @Sullivanfound summit hosted by Obiang in Equatorial Guinea. Will you be attending?

@HumanRightsFdn: @DrJeffGardere Media says you were invited to @Sullivanfound summit hosted by Obiang in Equatorial Guinea. Will you be attending?

Campaign bearing fruit?

@ayittey: Have managed to dissuade former prez of Ghana, John Kufuor, from attending the Sullivan Summit in Malabo, Eq Guinea.

@texasinafrica: Huge that @ayittey convinced Kufuor not to attend the tainted #SullivanSummit. One of Kufuor's nephews works @SullivanFound.

@ThorHalvorssen: keynote speaker at #sullivansummit cancels appearance .@johnhopebryant will not attend .@SullivanFound event in #equatorialguinea

@africatechie: Politicians Bow Out of High-Profile Summit Hosted By Africa's Longest-Serving Dictator http://bit.ly/O9yhXw #SullivanSummit

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site