Friday, 17 March 2017

See How Africa Has Ignored Cameroon's Crisis As Human Rights Abuses By President Paul Biya Mounts

Security forces shooting dead unarmed protesters, arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, disappearances, harassment and intimidation are some of the reported human rights abuses that have been continuing for more than four months now in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.


"I write to you in hiding and with so much fear that at anytime, anywhere, I can be picked up by the police or military and immediately tried for felony for just sending this email."

These are the desperate words of a Cameroonian activist, contained in an email message sent to me, that point to a deeply concerning and worsening human rights crisis in Cameroon.

By Kumi Naidoo
"The situation in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon is so scary. A walk in any part of the regions, you will automatically feel like you are in a war zone".

The war zone effect that this activist, who did not want to be named, is referring to is a result of a brutal, militarised crackdown by the authorities in response to peaceful protests, which has created a climate of repression, fear and intimidation in the English-speaking South West and North West regions. The shooting dead of unarmed protesters, arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, disappearances, harassment and intimidation by security forces are some of the reported human rights abuses that have been continuing for more than four months now. Regular "Ghost Town" boycott protests, also begun months ago, leave city streets deserted, schools closed and businesses shuttered.

The activist had to risk traveling to a neighboring Francophone region just to send me her email. An internet blockade that has been in effect since mid-January has cut off internet access and disrupted cellular services for millions of Cameroonians in the English-speaking regions.

In October, lawyers and teachers launched strikes to demand greater inclusion of English-speaking professionals in the legal and teaching sectors. Weeks later, civil society organisations called for public demonstrations in support of the strikes and in protest against the "marginalization and deprivation" of English-speaking Cameroonians by the Francophone-dominated government of President Paul Biya. The government response was to dispatch security forces to quash dissent.

The hiding activist's email ends with a heartfelt appeal to the international community to come and bear witness to what is going on and intervene to help bring an end to the crisis.


In response to such appeals, Africans Rising - an emerging movement of people and movements, working for peace, justice and dignity - embarked on a fact-finding mission to Cameroon in February. Our goal was to investigate the conflict and better understand it and its context and to join in solidarity with the people of Cameroon in efforts to help bring about lasting peaceful and just solutions to the crisis.

I led a four-person delegation that traveled through the militarised regions to meet discreetly with stakeholders including activists, religious leaders, youth, lawyers, trade unionists and ordinary residents, many of whom requested anonymity out of fear for their safety. They shared eyewitness accounts of human rights violations and their impact on local communities. What we discovered and the actions we recommend are contained in a report just published on the mission.

In Bamenda and Buea, the capital cities of the North West and South West regions respectively, we were told that citizens could be targeted for arrest, interrogation and prosecution merely for discussing the protests, let alone supporting them or the demands they promote.

See How Africa Has Ignored Cameroon's Crisis As Human Rights Abuses By President Paul Biya Mounts
Inside a car in a church parking lot, a religious leader who had been subjected to raids on his home by security forces described the impact of heavy-handed security tactics. "They really go after the boys," he said, explaining that, in a country with 60 percent of the population under 25, authorities appeared to especially target male youths. Indeed, an investigation by the statutory National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms found that minors were being held in Cameroon's notorious prisons as part of the clampdown on protests and called for their immediate release.
Copyright © Real Info Zone. All rights reserved. Distributed by Real Info Zone Global Media (www.realinfozones.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

Real Info Zone publishes around multiple reports a day from more than 40 news organizations and over 100 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which Real Info Zone does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify Real Info Zone as the publisher are produced or commissioned by Real Info Zone. To address comments or complaints, Please Contact Us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *