Published: Tue, August 15, 2017
World | By Lorena Waters

Equatorial Guinea's Most Important Living Writer Forced Into Hiding & raquo; BLARB

By David Shook Juan Tomás Avila Laurel is Equatorial Guinea's most important living writer, but he is often persecuted by his own state for his outspokenness regarding his blatant Disregard of human rights. This week that disregard has turned dangerous, Malabo's infamous security forces have forced Avila Laurel, 48, into hiding for his work as activist. Avila Laurel had planned a sit-in protesting a recent wave of police brutality, and had requested official permission to stage the event, as required by national law. Soon after being denied the requested permission, Avila Laurel was informed that political party The Elephant and Palm Tree, which had made the official request, had been declared dissolved by the Guinean government, and that he was one of several Activists targeted for arrest without formal charges. The Elephant Craft and the Palm Tree, known for its peaceful protests of police and government brutality, and is officially focused on the arrest of party founder Salvador Ebang Ela. P> Avila Laurel, whose first book in English is forthcoming from And Other Stories in a superb translation by Jethro Soutar, is no stranger to government harassment. After declaring a hunger strike in February 2011, he has sought to exile in Spain at the recommendation of national and international observers concerned for his safety, where he lived for two years before having his request for asylum denied. Since his return to Equatorial Guinea, Avila Laurel has been active in organizing peaceful protests of the Obiang regime, especially its police brutality.

Corruption, poverty, and repression continue to plague Equatorial Guinea 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 Those who question this disparity are branded "enemies." Despite some areas of relative progress, human rights conditions remain very poor. Avila Laurel's extensive work includes novels, short stories, plays, and poetry, as well as poetry, poetry, poetry, poetry, poetry, poetry,

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