Dorgelesse Nguessan, a single mother and hairdresser from Cameroon, was arrested while attending a peaceful protest demanding a better future for her family and her country. Now she has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Dorgelesse always dreamt of owning a thriving beauty institute. Two years ago, the single mother and hairdresser was just starting to expand her hairdressing business to include manicures.
On 22 September 2020, Dorgelesse’s dream was shattered when she was arrested during a protest in Douala, Cameroon. This was the only protest she had ever attended. Dorgelesse was not politically active, but her concerns about the state of Cameroon’s economy led her to join the demonstrations.
When the peaceful protest began, security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters. As Dorgelesse turned into an alleyway, police followed her and fellow protesters and blocked them in. They arrested her and took her to a police station, where she was held in terrible conditions for exercising her right to free speech, in a cell with 22 other people.
On 29 September 2020, Dorgelesse was transferred to Douala Central Prison, where she remains. She was charged with “insurrection, assembly, meetings and public demonstrations” and tried by a military a court. She was sentenced to five years in prison on 7 December 2021.
Dorgelesse is the breadwinner of her family. Her son has sickle cell anaemia, and the family are struggling to pay for his medication. Dorgelesse and her family are desperate to be reunited