On November 8th, a peaceful march of about 500 members of the Musicians' Union of Cameroon (SYCAMU) was brutally attacked by police in the country's capital, Yaoundé. Artists, including 85 year old Anne-Marie Nzié, known as the "Queen of Cameroonian Music" were dragged to the floor and beaten. Sixty-three musicians were arrested and held for hours before being released.
Roméo Dika, the union's president and a musician himself, faces accusations of fomenting an insurrection. If these turn into formal charges, the consequences could be life imprisonment, or even the death penalty.
In reality, SYCAMU members were only protesting that a new agreement for the payment of royalties to artists has not been properly enforced.
Earlier this year, SYCAMU hit the headlines when they protested against low performance fees paid by MTN, a telecommunications giant who organise a lot of the biggest gigs in the country. Unions like SYCAMU are important both for securing fair treatment for artists at live shows, and making sure artists can make enough money from the use of their own recorded material.
To show your support, please click here to send messages of protest to the authorities, and tell them that musicians and artists internationally won't stand for this brutal treatment of their brothers and sisters in Cameroon. We want people to share the campaign page as widely as possible to get more artists on board.