Michele Ndoki, imprisoned for the past six months, has been convicted by a military tribunal in Cameroon after leading a parade. Ndoki was sentenced to time served but continues to be held on more serious treason charges for which she might face execution. Ndoki and over a hundred of her political party members, including presidential candidate Maurice Kamto, face capital charges of sedition against the authoritarian regime of Paul Biya, one of Africa’s most notorious despots.
Ndoki is the vice president of the women’s wing of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, the main opposition party. Ndoki litigated against Biya contesting the October 2018 election and is one of the most recognized women in Cameroon. Biya is defending his rule in an ongoing civil war with Ambazonia rebels and is treating his opponents as though they are terrorists. Ndoki’s legal prowess was on display as her presentation in the post-election hearing was broadcast live on all local television stations marking her as an undesirable trouble-maker.
Ndoki is being held since February without bail in a nine-women cell at Kondengui maximum-security prison. Ndoki narrowly survived a police assassination attempt after leading a parade in January when she was shot three times. The well respected lawyer went into hiding after she was shot and was arrested when she tried to enter Nigeria for asylum Amnesty International, the United States, and the Cameroon Bar Association have all called for her immediate release. The United States has suspended military aid in the wake of repression by Biya’s security forces.
Ndoki is the co-founder of Freedom Generation, a human rights organization, and has been active working with the Association for Advancement of Homosexual Rights when she is not practicing election law. Previously, Ndoki was active with the Alliance for Democracy and Development and the Cameroon People’s Party.
In October 2018, shortly after the disputed election, Ndoki was beaten with batons by police. The January 2019 shooting of Ndoki signaled that she was marked for elimination. Now the bullets Ndoki has to worry about are not those embedded in her leg but those in the rifles of a firing squad.