Bertrand Teyou

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Bertrand Zepherin Teyou
Nationality Cameroonian
Occupation Author
Known for 2010-11 imprisonment

Bertrand Zepherin Teyou (born 1969) is a Cameroonian author.

His Book and his arrestment[edit]

Teyou is notable for his book La Belle de la république bananière : Chantal Biya, de la rue au palais (English: "The Belle of the Banana Republic: Chantal Biya, from the Streets to the Palace"), where he traces Mrs. Biya's rise from ordinary origins to become the First Lady of Cameroon.[1] He was imprisoned on charges of insulting Chantal Biya, the wife of President Paul Biya in his book and for trying to hold a public reading of this book.

On 3 November 2010, Teyou was arrested at a hotel in Douala where he had organized a book signing; copies of his book were seized and destroyed.[1] On 10 November, he was tried by the High Court (Tribunal de première instance) in Douala[2] and found guilty of "insult to character" and organizing an "illegal demonstration".[1] The court sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment or a fine of 2,030,150 CFA francs (approximately 4,425 US dollars).[2] Because he could not pay the fine, he began serving his sentence in New Bell Prison in Douala.[2]

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN protested his trial and called for his immediate release.[1] Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience.[2]

Hunger strike, imprisonment and release[edit]

In February 2011, Teyou went on hunger strike to protest conditions in New Bell.[1] On 8 March 2011, Le Jour reported that Teyou had been hospitalized.[3] Amnesty International also issued an "Urgent Action" over concerns for his declining health, stating, "He is said to suffer from heavy bleeding caused by acute haemorrhoids, reportedly exacerbated by poor prison diet. Overcrowding is a problem in Cameroonian prisons and the food is known to be of poor quality and inadequate."[2] Amnesty International had previously described general conditions at New Bell as "often life-threatening".[2]

In a March 2011 interview, Teyou described his motives for writing his book, saying, "We are entitled to rise against the injustice that is crippling our country. We cannot let evil go unquestioned... This book is the expression of my dissatisfaction with what is going on in Cameroon, especially the macabre system that gives Chantal Biya the leeway to treat people around her with extreme cruelty."[4]

On 2 May 2011, Teyou was freed when the London chapter of International PEN agreed to pay his fine from its emergency fund in order that he might immediately seek medical treatment for his worsening condition.[5] He then received treatment.[6] The chair of African literature at the University of Bayreuth also offered to pay the expenses for La Belle de la république bananière to be reprinted in Germany.[5]

Arson in Besançon[edit]

June 26, 2015 parts of the city hall of Besançon were destroyed by a fire caused by two Molotov cocktails.[7] Arrested Suspected for this arson is Bertrand Zepherin Teyou, who lives in France as a refugee since May 2013.[8] He wanted to start his own publishing house, but could not do so because of lack of funds. He then asked for assistance of an association which helps people to start their own business, but felt that the support he had obtained was not satisfactory.

Some weeks before the arson, Teyou had made two sit-ins at the City Hall, forcing police to intervene to dislodge him. During his second sit-in, had threatened the staff of the municipality by saying he would "all burn down", if his demands we not met.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e "CAMEROON: Author jailed for insulting President's wife". International PEN. 25 March 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Urgent Action:CAMEROONIAN WRITER HELD IN HARSH CONDITIONS" (PDF). Amnesty International. 12 April 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Théodore Tchopa (8 March 2011). "L'état déclinant de Bertrand Téyou". Le Jour. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Dr. Peter Vakunta (15 March 2011). "S.O.S Bertrand Teyou!". Up Station Mountain Club. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Cameroun: L'écrivain Bertrand Teyou Sort De Prison". 2 May 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Cameroon: Author Jailed for Insult Released". Writers in Prison Committee, International PEN. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  7. ^ France3 Regions: Besançon : émotion après l'incendie de l'hôtel de ville
  8. ^ L' Est Republicain: Besançon : l’incendiaire présumé toujours en garde à vue, un deuxième homme interpellé
  9. ^ Incendie de Besançon : le suspect avait menacé de "tout faire brûler" il y a plusieurs jours