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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.

Source: news-af.op-mobile.opera

Kumbo Town is the second largest town in the North West Region of Cameroon, one of the restive English-speaking regions clamouring for autonomy. In recent times it has become an epicentre in the on-going conflict between Cameroon military forces and restorationist forces of the putative Republic of Ambazonia, often known as the Amba Boys. An unprecedented wave of violence has taken the town captive and is rooted in the New Year’s message of President Paul Biya as he approaches his 86th birthday, to use crude military force to quell the uprising if the terrorist/rebels do not lay down their arms.

In the early hours of January 1st, at 00.05am, to show allegiance to Biya (now in power for over 26 years), there was a deafening and frightful salvo of gunshots in all military facilities in the town causing the inhabitants flee to safety. The war had started.

The Score Board
In this month of January 2019 areas of the town such as Mbev, Ndzenji, Squares, SAC Junction, Mantum, Ber, and Meluf have been deprived of the right to own and live in decent houses. The conflagration of military fire has reduced many houses to ashes and forced many people to flee to unknown destinations, paving the way for mass looting from the forces of lawlessness and disorder. Many doors of houses are standing ajar after their crude acts. Soldiers come in waves and depart with looted material, especially Android appliances and food items. This probably is a well orchestrated and planned tool and strategy in this war of attrition. Target killings, extra-judicial execution, disappearances and abductions have become the hallmark of their presence.

In Mbve on January 18th, a pregnant nurse on her way to resume work at Shisong General Hospital was mercilessly gunned down by soldier from a rooftop.Two days later an early dawn raid was effected by the military within the premises of Shisong Hospital causing double trauma for the hospital patients as well as the Cardiac Unit. A young Internally Displaced boy of 17 who had never witnessed heavy military presence ran into the house where he was hosted for safety, but was unfortunately pulled out and riddled with bullets beyond recognition. Shisong, which hosted many IDPs, is experiencing a re-displacement, making a bad case worse. There is almost daily military presence and shooting around the hospital in the night and the IDPs plus their hosts have all flocked into the wards. No one can be certain of what is to come. There is an atmosphere of foreboding.

Everyone seems resigned to their fate. The military units making their entry from the West Region into Kumbo are leaving behind a trail of destruction of houses beyond imagination. Food stuff for people’s consumption is set ablaze. This is scorched earth policy. The civilians must pay the price.
January 21st a young bike rider at Squares-Kumbo round-about, who had just dropped off a passenger, ran into a military convoy returning from Shisong and was pulled off his bike and slaughtered with impunity. In Tankum Quarter, the story was no different; two young boys in their teens had their throats slit open by the military on allegations of being Amba affiliates. Minutes later military canisters were directed to another quarter, Kongir, setting a house ablaze, killing a two year old child therein, and wounding the sister and mother, who were lying in bed. Also, women have been raped with impunity. Goats and chickens have equally paid a price with their lives for roaming freely in town. They are shot and packed into military vans possibly for consumption. Beer parlours with stocks of beer that have been locked are invaded by these unfriendly visitors who consume the stock to excess and then shatter the remains into bits and pieces, thereby ruining the business of a proprietor.

Kumbo Town which used to be bustling with activity has become a dead town, a ghost town, a town abandoned to fate. About seven out of every ten houses have been abandoned. Frequent electricity black-outs or cuts are alarming. The cost of petrol and diesel has risen to absurd heights. The prices of basic foodstuffs have risen considerably. Getting water for use and consumption has become a Herculean task. Many people die in homes because they cannot afford the means to reach hospital. Many pregnant women have escaped into the bushes and far off villages for safety, disregarding anti-natal checks and clinics.

Commercial activities are at a standstill, with a gross shortage of basic commodities – even those that are available are sold at unbearable prices. Educational facilities are completely shut down and unemployment has soared. Dead IDPs are buried in the absence of relations by people of good will. Houses along the main road in the town are branded with bullet holes. Civilian farms within the precincts of military facilities have been torched and destroyed in order to create a buffer zone. Fugitives and IDPs moving into other regions are not free from harassment and death-threats. In Douala, IDPs are forced to pay a tax before being accommodated. Some are demeaned through innuendo and ethnic slurs. Many people wearing clothing of certain colours have become targets for the military. Wearers of black, the classic icon of tough guys, and red the emblematic insignia of Amba Boys, have become targets for elimination by the military. Bike Riders have not been spared from this fate.

On the other hand, Amba Boys that shoot for restoration forces, though defending and fighting for the marginalised, have equally left their own mark. Government sympathisers and those critical of them are whisked-off to unknown destinations where they are tortured beyond recognition and released only when a ransom is paid. They have frequently interrupted the little attempted commercial activity with death threats. Any Amba critic or sell-out receives the crown of brutality from the Amba Fist of Fury. Transit fees/fares demanded by Amba affiliates are heartbreaking. Moving from one Administrative Division to another is a nightmare with numerous check-points for both Amba and military forces. Having identity papers with a Cameroon Government Logo is nauseating and acrimonious to Amba Boys and a lack of them at Cameroon Government checkpoints is an occasion for arrest, torture, incarceration and death. This is the predicament of the inhabitants of Kumbo.

Reflection: “Actions that are designed for the methodical extermination of an entire people, nation or ethnic minority are always to be condemned as horrendous crimes” (Gaudium et Spes 79). “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation” (Gaudium et Spes 80). The obligation of preventing war lies on all nations. A world organisation that has Supreme legitimacy and authority seem to be the most apt means of preventing war and promoting peace.

Conclusion: Pride which is the spurious feeling of superiority leads to errors of judgment with the consequences of disgrace, destruction, opposition, and downfall. There is the need for upgrading the call to the international community to intervene and force the warring parties to the bargaining table in an inclusive dialogue; for the pen is mightier than the sword. If the present trend of events continues unabated, there will surely be a replay of the Rwandan episode, plunging the entire Central African Sub-region into a morass. A stitch in time saves nine! For now, “as wanton boys are to the flies so are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport.”
Source: Independent Catholic News.

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