Rev. Fr. Humphrey Tata Mbuyi, Director of Communication for the Archdiocese of Bamenda has said soldiers shot round the Bamenda Metropolitan Cathedral on Thursday, April 18 (Holy Thursday) and Friday, April 19 (Good Friday), forcing faithful to run into the Catholic Cathedral for refuge.
The prelate was talking to ‘Focus on Africa’ on the BBC. He said what is going on in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions is alarming, describing it as genocide.
His words: “The statistics are alarming and I will at this moment even fear to even give them because they can shock every one of us. But I can take the ones that are already online. Those are the ones from the Diocese of Kumbo. And these are statistics from 19 out of 36 parishes which are telling us that in the last three months only, 750 houses have been burnt, 250 people have been killed and over 10, 000 are internally displaced. These are statistics from that diocese. That is indicative of what has happened in a place which was not as hardly hit as the Kumba Diocese.
“So, when you put all of these together, it is indicative of things that are more frightening. Nobody wants to soil the image of Cameroon. No one wants to make us look demonic. But it is about time that we turned round and looked at ourselves and say if everybody is shouting, there must be something that is making them shout. Can we just sit down and be humble enough to look at what is happening?”
On whether the military presence in the restive regions is assurance enough for the security of the population, the priest responded in the negative.
Hear him: “It is very sad. It will take another generation for people to establish confidence in their military. This is the worst thing that can happen to a country; where the population itself starts being afraid of the people who should be protecting them. We were coming out of church on Holy Thursday and Good Friday in the Cathedral when there was just rampant shooting, and they were military people, round the church premises, when people were coming out. And people ran back. Who provoked it? What was the problem? What was happening? So, when you have these kinds of things repeatedly happening, when you see clearly houses burnt, villages burnt and people can identify who is burning them; when you see property being looted and people can identify who is looting them; these are not things that are done in the dark. When a priest is shot and we can see the people who have shot, how do you expect people to still have trust when all these things have repeatedly gone on? When people are molested for no reason, some who don’t even know what is happening.”
The Director of Communication for the Archdiocese of Bamenda maintains that the goings-on in the North West and South West Regions amount to genocide.
“What is genocide? Genocide is when somebody is killed, even if it is just one person, precisely for not doing anything, but because he belongs either to this group or because he belongs to this region. That is what genocide is. Why are people being killed? When they go into a village in Wum and they are shooting everywhere, is it that everybody in Wum has suddenly become a terrorist? I would like anybody to define genocide, and look at what is happening and tell me whether we have genocide or not.
On whether the government has been responding appropriately to the ongoing crisis, Rev. Fr. Humphrey Tata said:
“If they were responding appropriately, we wouldn’t be three years into the crisis. Anywhere on planet earth, might, military response has never ever solved a problem. Never! So, let us not dream that we would be the first people to start on planet earth. Nowhere! When you have fought and killed, it is when you sit down and talk, then you resolve the problem. Why not just sit down and talk? And the more you kill innocent people, the more you radicalize their relatives and their sons to join the amba and to fight against. I have had the opportunity, it is just that unfortunately, military people don’t have to talk openly, but I have had the opportunity of some soldiers coming to visit me and crying because they cannot understand what they are doing themselves. I feel very sorry for them. These are young Cameroonians.”
He said some soldiers wonder why they have to kill. “They tell me, ‘Why have we to shoot?’ Like the case of this guy who comes, he is not even from this English speaking regions, he says he has never in his whole life beaten somebody. Now he has killed about ten people. He cannot sleep… and that is what frightens me that many people don’t seem to see. The real problem is going to come with the trauma after.”
Enter Rene Sadi
Cameroon’s Communication Minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi has however rubbished claims of military excesses. “Contrary to widespread allegations, the Cameroonian Defence and Security Forces carry out their mission with a high sense of responsibility, professionalism, discernment, bravery and dedication.”
“The Government, once again, uses this opportunity to strongly condemn these repeated attacks against Cameroon, which reflect a real desire to weaken our institutions and undermine the morale of our Defence and Security Forces, in their missions to restoring order, preserving the territorial integrity and protecting the property and people living within our borders, when the situation in the North West and South West regions is gradually getting under control,” Sadi said Monday.