- Cameroonian radio presenter Agnès Tailé was abducted from her home by three hooded intruders, who were brutally beating and strangling her so she lost her voice. The editor of 'Sweet FM' is now hosting her "Have Your Say" programme, and has already received threatening phone calls. The attackers so far have failed to tell what was annoying them about the show.
Three hooded men forced their way into Ms Tailé's home in the Kotto residential district of Douala on the night of 6 November, dragged her outside, stamped on her as she lay on the ground, hit her on the hands and neck, and even tried to strangle her. The men abandoned her near a ravine, where she later was found. Hospitalised with multiple contusions, she still has difficulties talking and her hands are immobilised by bandages.
Alexandre Lembé, editor-in-chief of the Douala radio station, has taken over presenting duties on the "A vous la parole" ("Have Your Say") show. He is now also receiving threats from unidentified callers. The callers have not revealed their reasons for sending the threats or for the attack on Ms Tailé.
Ten days before the attack, Ms Tailé received anonymous calls and text messages, threatening her with violence if she did not stop speaking on her programme. The programme features open debates on various subjects such as politics, society, culture and sports. In the show, which she has hosted since June 2005, listeners call in and talk freely about current affairs.
When she started receiving several anonymous calls - in which she was warned to stop her "hunt" - Ms Tailé went on air and condemned this attempted intimidation. In the days prior to the attack, she urged anyone who felt they had been defamed to use their right of response. During the assault, one of the attackers said: "You have asked for a face-to-face."
Both chief editor Lembé and programme host Tailé say they are completely in the dark when it comes to guessing what had triggered the attack. Mr Lembé adds that those currently calling him did not want to reveal their reasons for sending the threats or for the attack on Ms Tailé.
These threats to 'Sweet FM' have caused fear and uproar among journalist colleague in Cameroon and beyond. The Cameroon Journalists' Trade Union (CJTU) already has called on Cameroonian media owners to implement better safety measures and offer medical and other types of insurance to their employees in response to the attack on Ms Tailé.
"We call on our colleagues, the Cameroonian authorities and the international community to put an end to attacks on journalists, which have increased significantly in recent months in the country," said Jean Marc Soboth, First Secretary-General of the CJTU. He was today supported by the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
"We condemn this cowardly attack on our colleague Agnès," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. "We wish her a speedy recovery and we are calling on the government of Cameroon to conduct an urgent investigation into this case and bring to justice the perpetrators of this brutal act of intimidation."
Also the Paris-based media watchdog group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) today strongly condemned the attack, calling it a "cowardly and disturbing act of violence." RSF urged Cameroonian authorities to assure there was no impunity for attacks on the press and that the assaulters were brought to justice. "Sweet FM's staff will not be able to work properly as long as they know thugs could come after them at any time," RSF said.
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