#Gabon: Open letter to His Excellency Eric Benjaminson, Ambassador of USA to Gabon

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Open Letter to His Excellency

Eric Benjaminson,

Ambassador

Head of the diplomatic mission of the United States to Gabon

Mr. Ambassador,

We are writing this letter to express our astonishment and concern regarding your actions, your doctrine and your fixism since you have been accredited as head of the diplomatic mission of the United States of America in our country. Since your appointment as the head of that diplomatic mission, in fact, not only have you never displayed an open mind when listening to opinions different from those favorable to the regime in power but, in addition, on the contrary, as months have passed, you have moved away from measure, circumspection, weighting, and the distance one would expect from a diplomat. You must know first, Mr. Ambassador, that we would have rather preferred to avoid the temptation to write this letter to you which would not have been possible just a few months ago. But in the space of a few weeks, you have intentionally crossed the acceptable red line. Your incomprehensible actions are what prompted us to decide to send this open letter to you. Maybe, a feeling of omnipotence has pushed you to believe that you could do anything, say anything and there will never be a Gabonese to answer you, anyway. Let us tell you, Mr. Ambassador, that you are mistaken. This time, we must meddle in what concerns us, even at the price of a call by the Gabonese military police. Whatever the consequences on our freedom, physical integrity and on our miserable lives! In any case, it would not have been acceptable for our humanity to let these indignities sit, these humiliations which make us indignant, not to speak of the consequences they will induce inevitably and permanently on our future.

Mr. Ambassador,

On December 28, 2012, in an interview with the online news site “Gabonreview,” you saw seen fit to justify the dissolution of the Union Nationale party and advise its leaders to create another political party. You have a curious conception, Mr. Ambassador, of the rule of law, of freedom and political competition! This is amazing! Do you know that the provisions of the Gabonese Constitution do suggest in any way the dissolution of a political party? Do you know for example that in the general principles of law, unless a group aims in its Constitution and explicitly calls for murder or hatred of others, there is no dissolution of political parties in a democracy? Do you know, Mr. Ambassador, you who call for the leaders of the Union Nationale to change their name – that your friend Ali Bongo took with an astonishing diligence an order with the sole purpose of preventing the leaders of the Union Nationale to found another political party?

How to understand this attitude from the representative of a country where the “Ku Klux Klan” exists since 1865 without- freedom oblige – ever being any question of dissolving it? As appalling as is its sole purpose, which is summarized in the destruction of ethnic minorities, as horrifying as are its calls to assassinate the U.S. President himself, that organization continues to exist in the country you come from, on grounds of the sacred principles of freedom of association and expression. How can you justify and support the dissolution of a political party which incidentally has never been violent, nor advocated violence, or even have as its goals violence as an instrument of access to power? How a citizen and representative at such a high level of a State which in its declaration of independence says: ” We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ” could accommodate such situations? How a representative of a country which is so convinced that it embodies a profoundly universal destiny, a country that proclaims the cause of humanity to be its cause, which says that its land is an asylum to all persecuted for freedom, can remain so blithely indifferent to the dissolution of the largest opposition party in a country where they are accredited? How the representative of a country that wages wars in the name of defending democracy, freedom and human rights in the world can be so against non-violent unarmed citizens who just claim their legitimate rights to live in a democracy, the rule of law and to seek their own happiness?

Mr. Ambassador,

Obviously, the only thing you propose to the Gabonese opposition is the injunction to turn the other cheek to be slapped even stronger, by the regime in power. You suggest to them to stop thinking and stop disrupting the sumptuous life of a nabob that your best friend Ali Bongo leads to the chagrin of our people.

Does this regimentation and allegiance of the opposition toward the regime, that you want at all cost correspond to the idea you have of democracy? Are these the teachings you have received during your training in History of Institutions and Political Ideology at the University of Oregon? Does this correspond to your faith as a man of God, committed to the truth?

Mr. Ambassador,

Your distressing statements about the fact that Gabon is a democracy where human rights are fully respected are an insult to the intelligence or at least the common sense of the people of Gabon. And even France which is known by all to appoint our Heads of State here in Gabon and guarantee their longevity in power and their drifts, their ambassador in our country, does not show such an ostensible bias in favor of the dictatorship under which we suffer here in Gabon.

Could it be accepted accept in the United States that any public event that the Republican Party would want to organize, be subjected to the discretion of an official of the Obama administration and, more importantly, who is a zealous partisan of the Democratic Party? Could it be accepted in the United States that President Obama appoints as Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court – which is equivalent to our Constitutional Court, a member of his family who would then judge elections in which President Obama and his party would be candidates? It is not necessary for you to answer these rhetorical questions. We know that your answers will be negative. Well, imagine, Your Excellency, that we either do not support this! We are also beings of flesh and blood. What your fellow Americans take for intolerable is the same also for us! The indignation and nausea that such situations would cause in your country are equal to our indignation and nausea! That we too would like to experience the excitement and pride to finally have a President who was elected by a majority of Gabonese people! We also would like to have the opportunity to hold our leaders accountable and punish them electorally if necessary.

As if that was not enough – and this is the one trampling too many – you have seen fit to cancel without further ado the trip of Me Oyane Ondo who was to participate in a program of the State Department of your country in the category of “Women political leader!”

You allege, Mr. Ambassador, to justify the cancellation of this trip, which Me Oyane Ondo never sought, the excessive politicization of that event by the Press. Politicization of the information in the press you say? Really? The United States of America would direct their diplomacy at the whims of information and interpretations of the local Gabonese press? We are surprised to learn that America – the leading power in diplomacy, military and largest democracy – is so fragile!

A country whose diplomacy flickers and varies according to comments made in the Gabonese Press! Can you tell us exactly what it is? The truth liberates, it soothes, it assembles. And we can handle the truth!

Anyway, Mr. Ambassador, your attempt using unconvincing argument to explain the reasons for the cancellation of this trip is also an insult to the intelligence of Gabonese people, we are not simpletons! Why fabric inaccuracies, which we dare not call lies?

To our knowledge, Me Oyane Ondo is not running an NGO that cares for AIDS orphans. Nor does she direct the Women’s Cooperative producers of cassava from Agnisock (whom we respect and value by the way). But she is the founder of an NGO whose purpose is precisely to defend human rights and promote democracy! What can there be more political than such a mission as it is precisely the public power that violates essentially human rights in Gabon and that it is still the regime which denies the people democracy? Excellence, if not politics, what would have Me Oyane Ondo talk about during this trip?

Excellency, Mr. Ambassador,

We love America. We like some of its history of struggle to defeat the British colonization. We have infinite admiration for the great men and women who have made history: Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, etc… We are impressed by the willingness of America to preserve and defend freedom at all costs, even in the most painful circumstances! We adore, like many young Africans, its culture that inspires us so much. We are fascinated by its creative genius and innovation. We are most excited about the incredible vitality of its great democracy and its balanced political system with has evolved through centuries without many wrinkles. Alas, that your attitude is contrary to the ideals proclaimed by America, dismays us! For by acting as you do since your arrival in Gabon, you block the hopes of democracy for the Gabonese people; you stifle the desire for freedom the Gabonese have to write their history and the right to choose their destiny, you trample our human rights, you cultivate frustration, you want to encourage us – against our will – to hate America and display toward her a hatred that is not registered, as in some parts of the world, in our depths.

Your Excellency, you have taken too much water, your liabilities are starting to become a problem for you to continue to officiate here in Gabon, with credibility and relevance! You should know “leave things before they leave you,” says a popular wisdom. It is true that your legitimacy comes from those who have appointed you. But objectively and in good faith, what role would you continue to play in our country only if your only contacts are your friends from the presidential palace?

What remains for your effectiveness if other politicians and members of the civil society no longer give you the minimum esteem and confidence necessary for the mission which is yours?

You soil voluntarily, Mr. Ambassador, the image and discourse of America in Gabon. Therefore, we call on President Obama to proceed with your replacement. And hope following your departure, to host an ambassador who will not cause his country to shrink, who will not forget America’s mission in the world and the dream she arises in our countries including in the most remote areas.

We imagine obviously the sarcasm that this claim will elicit in you. But let us say that each week we will send a letter to the White House and the State Department about it until such time you are definitively relieved of your duties in Gabon. For your contempt for the Gabonese people who have the bad luck and bad idea to contradict your friends in Power in Gabon, is too obvious and unbearable!

Thereafter, nothing will prevent you from coming back, as a private citizen, in our country as you seem to appreciate the hospitality.

Thanking you in advance for the urgent and positive response that you will give this sincere and frank invitation to leave Gabon on your own, we beseech you, Excellency Mr. Ambassador, to kindly accept the assurance of our consideration.

For the committee, Desiré ENAME,

Journalist, defender of Human Rights

ramses.frank@gmail.com

(Journal Echos du Nord)

 

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