Tag

Military

Browsing

Anglophone activists in Cameroon and the diaspora have accused Cameroonian government-backed security forces of burning dead bodies of secessionist fighters a day after the bodies were piled in a spot in Bali the North West region of Cameroon.

Mark Bareta a leading figure in the Anglophone struggle said, ‘La Republique (The Cameroon Government backed) military set corpses of 30 Young men Ablaze! Untold darkness, lamentation and melancholy unravel Bali in the Northern zone of Southern Cameroons’, he continues by lamenting ‘Oh Lord we can’t live with these people’.

Another staunch activist for the protection of Anglophone rights in Cameroon, Jude Mortimer Kehla posted two pictures of the harrowing incident on his Facebook page and cried to one Facebook user the pictures are of ‘Young men burnt in Bali (in the Northwest region of Cameroon)’, telling another, ‘Children reduced to so much charred meat’.  National Times could not post the pictures because they are too graphic.

National Times can confirm that the 17 dead bodies were of secessionist fighters killed in Bali. However, we could not independently verify the authenticity of the claims that the youths were killed by Cameroonian government-backed forces neither could we confirm that they were burnt by government-backed forces.

More than 1000 youths have died in the conflict between government-backed security forces and secessionist groups in Cameroon’s two Anglophone regions. While most of the casualties have been recorded by secessionist fighters, dozens of government-backed security agents have also been killed in the killings. Fighting between different secessionist groups have also led to the death of dozens of others.

This is the second instance where corpses of death secessionist fighters have been burnt instead of been buried. It is unknown why the perpetrators of this heinous practice decide to burn the corpses rather than burying them or returning the dead bodies to their various communities.

Get all latest Ambazonia, Africa and World News, Click here to follow SCBC TV on Twitter

Source: natimesnews.com

A priest serving in Cameroon has been killed by military gunfire, amid a military and political conflict that has rocked the country in recent years.

Fr. Cosmas Ombato Ondari was reportedly killed Nov. 21 in Mamfe, a city in the country’s southwest, CNA has learned. Onari, a member of the Mill Hill Missionaries, had been serving in the country since March 2017, when he was ordained a priest.

Ondari is the second priest killed in recent months in the country. Fr. Alexander Sob Nougi was killed July 20 in the same province where Onari was shot. Nougi was shot at close range, in an attack that Church officials said was a targeted assassination.

In October, a 19-year-old seminarian was killed in a neighboring province, the epicenter of the country’s military conflict.

Earlier this month, a group of religious sisters was kidnapped by guerillas in the country’s northwest and released the next day.

Since 2017, guerillas in Cameroon have been fighting for the separation of the country’s English-speaking regions from its French-speaking territory. The fighters declared in October 2017 the independence of a new nation they have named ‘Ambazonia.’

The nearly three-year conflict has led to several hundred deaths on both sides, and sent 300,000 refugees to Nigeria. There are more than 80,000 internally displaced persons in Cameroon.

The separatist fighters are known to dig up trenches on the main road leading from Bamenda, the capital city of the Northwest Region, to many other villages and towns surrounding it, mainly in a bid to prevent military transport and soldiers from reaching their hideouts.

On May 30, 2017, Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala of Bafia, Cameroon disappeared from his residence. His body was recovered in a river two days later, although an autopsy determined he had not drowned.

Cameroon’s bishops’ conference maintains the bishop was murdered and accuses the government of failing to investigate the crime. His death is not believed to be related to the country’s military conflict.

Source: catholicnewsagency

Get all latest Ambazonia, Africa and World News, Click here to follow SCBC TV on Twitter

A senior Cameroon military officer has revealed that the Ambazonian Restoration Forces are not losing in the Southern Cameroons war and that the Unity Palace needs a new occupant to bring peace to the divided nation. Speaking on Monday to our undercover reporter in Yaoundé, the military baron who hails from the Far North region and whose name we are withholding noted that relatively speaking nothing changed ever since troops were deployed to crush the Anglophone uprising.

Citing former French President Jacques Chirac, the top military officer said “No one ever wins a war and I can sincerely tell you that there is no military solution to the crisis in Anglophone Cameroon.”

The Head of State should engage the leadership of the Anglophones in the Diaspora and convince them that it was time to come to the negotiation table,” he added. Without going into some military details, the French Cameroun soldier further pointed out that Biya is currently making the path to reconcile the nation rockier. “I believe and fervently too that the key to solving the crisis in Anglophone Cameroon is to bring in the United States government to incentivize the Ambazonian Interim government to negotiate.” He said.

The Francophone army commander said the Abuja action against the Anglophone leadership was a costly mistake and a diplomatic blunder that has made reconciliation between Francophones and Anglophones too far-fetched. He claimed that a majority of Francophone political elites sees no military solution to the Anglophone crisis.

Cameroon Intelligence Report gathered that Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo has placed a ban on media houses shedding fresh light on Cameroon military’s failure to contain the Ambazonian Liberation Forces and stabilize the territory. There are fears that with presidential elections just three months away in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, separatist fighters may gain strength as the Biya regime   in Yaounde struggles to monitor not only Southern Cameroonians but also the Bamilekes who are reportedly behind Prof Maurice Kamto.

We understand that the Southern Cameroons Interim Government decreed a county-by-county policing of the Ambazonian territory and this has cemented the position of fighters under the Ambazonia Security Council (ASC) who are now taking control over larger chunks of the rural areas while the Biya government had seen its control shrink. The Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) has failed to secure Southern Cameroons and have also suffered a high number of casualties in their battle against the Ambazonia Restoration Forces.

Author: Asu Vera Eyere and Sama Ernest

Source: cameroonintelligencereport

Get all latest Ambazonia, Africa and World News, Click here to follow SCBC TV on Twitter

13-year-old Ching Randy was seeking refuge in the bush in Bafia around Muyuka in Fako Division of Cameroon’s South West Region when he was shot by soldiers.
« The boy could barely survive because he was shot with live bullets in the head » a source revealed to Mimi Mefo info.

His family immediately laid him to rest in the bushes yesterday Wednesday, October 17, 2018, for fear of being targeted by soldiers who are in the area for surveillance.

Ching Randy was a student of Government Bilingual High School GBHS Muyuka.

The education of many youths in Muyuka and the entire North West and South West Regions of Cameroon have been interrupted since the anglophone crisis escalated in 2016.
Muyuka is now a no-go-area as the military continues to battle with pro-independence fighters.
The town, like neighboring Ekona has remained deserted for months now.

Author: Mimi Mefo

Source: mimimefoinfos

When Central African Republic (CAR) pleaded for help last year to fight marauding militias, former colonial ruler France offered guns it had seized off Somalia. But Russia objected and donated its own weapons instead.

By early February, Russia had sent nine planes with weapons along with dozens of contractors to train local soldiers and secure mining projects, marking the start of its highest-profile military foray in sub-Saharan Africa for decades.

Muscling in on a country dominated by France for years served as a statement of intent about Moscow’s renewed push for global prestige and influence, and is part of a wider campaign shaking up long-standing power dynamics on the continent.

Since Western nations sanctioned Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014, Moscow has signed 19 military cooperation deals in sub-Saharan Africa, including with Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, according to its foreign and defense ministries and state media.

The continent’s 54 member states at the United Nations – three of which sit on the Security Council at any given time –  form the organization’s largest voting bloc and one of its most coherent, making them attractive allies for Russia.

“The West is not very much loved by many countries. And many (see) Russia as the country that will oppose the West,” said Dmitri Bondarenko, an anthropologist and historian at Russia’s Institute for African Studies.

Besides sending arms and contractors to CAR, Russian national Valery Zakharov is a security adviser to President Faustin-Archange Touadera and Russia’s defense ministry said last week it planned to establish a five-person team at CAR’s defense ministry.

Russia’s moves come at a time when the defense ministry’s influence over Kremlin foreign policy is growing against a backdrop of heightened tension with the West.

SEIZED WEAPONS

When CAR made its plea in 2017, there was recognition that a spike in ethnic fighting could turn into a far larger conflict and that its security forces were too weak to tackle myriad armed groups.

CAR has been under a U.N. arms embargo since 2013 so weapons shipments must be approved by the U.N. Security Council’s CAR sanctions committee, made up of the Council’s 15 members, including France and Russia. It operates by consensus.

France first offered to help CAR buy old weapons but the proposal was too expensive. France then offered 1,400 AK47 assault rifles it had seized off Somalia in 2016, according to a Security Council memo and four diplomats.

Russia objected on the grounds that weapons seized for breaching the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia could not be recycled for use in another country under embargo, two diplomats said.

But mindful of the need for a quick solution, the sanctions committee approved Moscow’s donation of AK47s, sniper rifles, machineguns and grenade launchers in December, according to committee documents and diplomats.

“We presented our problem and Russia offered to help us, subject to Security Council approval,” said Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, CAR’s presidential spokesman. “If peace is restored tomorrow in CAR, I think everyone will be happy.”

Russia’s foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment about committee proceedings.

France’s foreign ministry said Russia must strictly respect the terms of its arms embargo exemption to keep the weapons out of the wrong hands.

‘WE’RE NOT INTERESTED’

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union forged close military and diplomatic ties with many African countries. It was involved in proxy wars in states such as Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique and helped independence movements fight Western colonial powers.

Russia is now trying to revive some of the relationships that lapsed after the Soviet Union’s collapse. It joins a number of countries such as Turkey and the United Arab Emirates looking to set up bases in Africa, mediate in diplomatic stand-offs and strike business deals.

China has long had a major economic presence in Africa but it has shied away from any military involvement. It did go a step further last year, however, opening its first military base outside China in Djibouti.

Near the world’s busiest shipping lanes, Djibouti is also home to a large French base, the only U.S. base in Africa, an Italian camp and Japan’s only overseas base.

Djibouti blocked Russian attempts to set up a base, however, saying it wanted to avoid becoming the terrain for a proxy war. Moscow is now planning to build a logistics center at a port in neighboring Eritrea.

While France has a military bases outside Djibouti in former colonies Gabon, Ivory Coast and Senegal and its soldiers also operate in Chad, Mali and Niger, analysts say Washington’s influence is on the wane.

Its trade with the continent has halved in the past decade, though much of that is due to U.S. shale replacing oil imports from Africa. Diplomatic posts have gone unfilled and a task force based in CAR tracking warlord Joseph Kony left last year.

“Our actions on the diplomatic and military side have sent a huge signal to our partners that we’re not interested in Africa,” said Donald Bolduc, who commanded U.S. special forces across the continent until last year.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy said Washington’s commitment to Africa was unwavering but, “there is space for other countries to play a positive role in the region”.

AFRICAN DEALS

As part of Russia’s renewed push, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went on a five-nation tour of Africa in March, attended a summit in South Africa in June and visited Rwanda, chair of the African Union, this year.

Russia has also struck military cooperation deals with many African countries since 2015, though some have yet to come into force. The agreements typically involve providing weapons and training in areas such as counter-terrorism and piracy.

Analysts caution that the deals often appear more symbolic than transformative and say it’s not clear if Russia has the resources, or desire, to continue expanding its presence.

But as in the Cold War, military deals can come alongside economic links, such as mining and energy agreements. Ethiopia signed its deal in April, a month after Lavrov visited to discuss nuclear energy, agriculture and transportation projects.

Russian firms have signed mineral deals in Sudan, which cooperates with Moscow in defense technology, and Russia is looking at diamond and platinum projects in Zimbabwe as well as energy projects in Chad.

Over the past decade, Russian trade with sub-Saharan Africa has increased fast, albeit from a low base. From 2010-2017, total trade rose to $4.2 billion a year from $1.6 billion, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies www.csis.org.

During the same period, China’s total trade with sub-Saharan Africa nearly doubled to $165 billion while U.S. trade more than halved to $37 billion.

WAGNER GROUP

Since arriving in CAR, the Russians’ remit has expanded beyond military advice and into various economic and diplomatic activities, a Western diplomat and security source said, fuelling the beginnings of a Western backlash.

In August, France, the United Kingdom and the United States blocked a Russian request to send more weapons. The U.S. mission to the United Nations said in a note to the sanctions committee that it was awaiting, “confirmation that measures had been taken to ensure the secure management of the previous donation”.

Estimates of the number of Russians in CAR vary widely, from 250 to 1,000. Touadera’s spokesman declined to provide details, nor say what activities the Russians were engaged in.

Yevgeny Shabayev, head of a chapter of a paramilitary Cossack organization who has ties to Russian security contractors, said there could be 1,000 in CAR and 5,000 to 10,000 across Africa, including in Sudan, South Sudan and Libya.

One Russian private military contractor, the Wagner group, was thrust into the spotlight in July when three Russian journalists were killed in CAR while investigating its alleged presence there.

Reuters has been unable to confirm whether Wagner contractors are in CAR. People with ties to the group have told Reuters it has carried out clandestine combat missions on the Kremlin’s behalf in Ukraine and Syria.

Russian authorities deny Wagner contractors carry out their orders. They have denied any role in the journalists’ deaths.

Russia has also stepped into negotiations with militias in CAR, adding to Western misgivings about its presence.

According to a U.N. panel of experts, Touadera’s Russian adviser has met militia leaders several times to discuss disarmament and the distribution of natural resources revenue.

Russia said in August after brokering talks between armed groups that Touadera had expressed gratitude for its involvement and that it intended to continue its mediation.

Reuters was unable to contact the adviser, Zakharov, for comment.

“There is a real division between that guy and the rest of the presidential advisers,” the security source said. “When you ask, ‘Can we see your colleague?’ they say, ‘Who, our colleague? We don’t know him’.”

Author: Aaron Ross

 

The Biya-Kamto Impending Electoral Dispute

By Oswald Tebit
12 Oct 2018

With the US State Department stating that
“Any disputes should be resolved peacefully and through established legal channels”.

Which are those legal channels? The courts. Who appoints the Judges of the courts? Paul Biya, who is a player and referee in the electoral process.

Whether Kamto and Akere are lawyers is inconsequential.
Ask the SDF how many electoral cases & disputes they have filed since 1992. (Barristers, Kofele Kale, Ben Muna, Mbah Ndam etc).
I know many people will jump to say oh we are in 2018, it’s the android generation. And so what.
Will an android phone determine a case in court.

The 07th Oct 2018 Presidential Elections on Sunday was a ceremony. In fact a CPDM Ritual.
The reason why Ambazonian Strategist took the strategic move to ban the elections in Ambazonia.

The US State Department is requesting for all parties to follow due process.
And who has the institutions of due process in their favor – Paul Biya & CPDM.
Therefore being a lawyer is inconsequential if the courts and Judiciary are not independent.

I have said here time and again that electoral political transition in Africa through the ballot box is only possible through the following;

1) The establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission (Jerry Rawlings of Ghana and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria both establish Independent Electoral Commissions that led to their respective ruling parties defeat).

2) The goodwill and faith of the incumbent to concede defeat (Abdul Diouf of Senegal conceded defeat to Abdulaye Wade).

Case Precedence – Electoral Disputes in Africa

Camerroon Presidential Elections 1992
Paul Biya was declared winner.
John Fru Ndi was declared runner-up and placed under house arrest for 3 months. Paul Biya went on to govern without any serious threat from the SDF.

The 2003 Nigerian Elections
The results of the elections which were contested saw Olusegun Obasanjo won a second term.
The Nigerian Army was deployed to quell violence in several parts of the country.
Obasanjo went on to complete his second term of office.

The 2007 Kenyan Presidential Elections.
The results of these elections were contested by Raila Odinga who had 44% of the votes while Mwai Kibaki who won with 46% went on to be sworn President a few hours after the declaration of results due to the violence that erupted proceeding the declaration of the results.
The violence led to the death of over 1000 civilians in clashes with the Kenyan police.

The AU, EU & US intervened to negotiate a Government of National Unity which saw Raila Odinga become Prime Minister.
While Mwai Kibaki went on to complete his term of office.

The 2008 Zimbabwean Presidential Elections
The opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai won with 47% but short of the majority required with Robert Mugabe coming second with 43%.
Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round on grounds of violence against his supporters.
Mugabe went on to win. However, the tensions that proceeded the elections led to the negotiations of a Government of National Unity in which Tsvangirai became Prime Minister.
Mugabe went on to complete his term of office.

The Current LRC Presidential Elections.

With the votes being counted, Maurice Kamto, the candidate of the MRC party has declared himself the winner.
This has led to tensions as to what will happen if he is not declared the winner on or by 22nd Oct when the Constitutional Council will declare the results.

Going by electoral disputes precedence in Africa, it is likely that Paul Biya will be declared the winner, as ELECAM is not independent.
This is likely to trigger violent protest in some of the strongholds of Kamto’s MRC party.

Going by past precedent, the Cameroon security forces will use brute force to quell these protest.

There is the likely hood, Paul Biya will succeed in crushing any protest and maintaining himself in power.

Unwilling to concede defeat in case of victory by Kamto, Biya will be sworn in as President for the 7th term.

Just like in past elections, the international community may criticize the elections but will fall short of requesting Biya to step down.

The international community will only request Biya to step down if Cameroon threatens to tear apart.

The Kamto campaign has a huge challenge in overcoming the various institutions in Cameroon that hold sway to the results of the elections.

What options are therefore left for Kamto? Would he follow up on his statement to fight till the end?
How will he fight? Would he follow due process to challenge the results in court or Would he consider an armed struggle?

Only time will tell.

As Cameroon heads to elections, experts warn of the fallout from an ongoing separatist crisis in the Anglophone regions.

by Eromo Egbejule

WHAT IS THE ANGLOPHONE CRISIS?

  • Bilingual Cameroon, a union of two parts colonised separately by the British and the French, has long had a fragile harmony.
  • In 2016, the fissures grew larger as the Anglophone minority, protesting the imposition of French systems in the courts and schools were attacked, triggering a war between the government and separatists.

Yaounde, Cameroon – Last October, Fred Assam watched from his hiding place as government soldiers spoon-fed acid to the village chief’s son.

The 24-year-old knew it was time to flee his homeland.

He escaped his village of Mbenyan in southwest Cameroon with a small bag of clothes, abandoning the life he knew behind to the safety of neighbouring Nigeria.

“The soldiers were shooting everyone they saw,” he says from Agbokim, in southern Nigeria. “They killed so many young people in Mbenyan and other villages across the Anglophone regions.”

Assam is one of over 30,000 Cameroonians – including his parents with whom he reunited three months ago – from the English-speaking northwest and southwest regions of the country who now live in refugee camps and settlements in southern Nigeria.

Discrepancies between the French and English academic, legal and administrative systems which have always existed concurrently, as well as cries of political and economic marginalisation, crystallised into a series of protests and riots in 2016.

That soon turned bloody as the government, in a bid to quell dissent, first ordered a three-month internet shutdown and deployed soldiers.

In January, separatists including Julius Tabe, the leader of the interim government of “Ambazonia” – the self-declared state consisting of the Anglophone regions – were arrested in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, on charges of terrorism.

Back in Cameroon, young untrained fighters are embroiled in a battle with government soldiers, countering sophisticated weaponry with homemade guns, machetes and charms called “odeshi” to make them invisible and invincible.

Trapped in the middle of all this are the estimated 17 million Anglophone Cameroonians who form roughly one-fifth of the population.

I was detained alongside suspected Boko Haram insurgents. There was this lady who was only released recently – she gave birth to her baby in prison.

AGBOR NKONGHO, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN AFRICA

Local groups say the number of people displaced from both regions has doubled to around 200,000 people over the last month and there are about 50,000 refugees in Nigeria.

The International Crisis Group, which says the international reaction has been muted, estimates that at least 2,000 people have died in the conflict, with another 170,000 displaced.

An unknown number of people are also sleeping in open forests in the absence of formal camps. There is a shortage of toilets and proper hygienic conditions for menstruating girls and women in the informal host communities.

Still, the country is pressing on towards an election on Sunday, as incumbent President Paul Biya seeks a seventh term in office.

Meanwhile, the government is headstrong about hosting a continental football competition next January despite the Anglophone crisis.

Observers and civil society leaders are worried about the government’s preoccupation with holding the elections and believe it is an attempt to paper over the cracks and present a united front to the international community.

“The reason I’m not contesting in this election is because of the current security situation,” says Kah Wallah, leader of the Cameroon People’s Party (CPP) which is not presenting a presidential candidate.

“You have people sleeping in the open forests. There is conflict in six of the 10 regions in Cameroon. There is intense conflict in the northwest and southwest, then in the Far North [Region], you have about 300,000 people displaced by Boko Haram.

“In the East [Region], there is a spillover from the insecurity in Central African Republic. In Adamawa and the North [Region], there is spillover of the crisis in the East and Far North. There were over 71 kidnappings in Adamawa last year alone. I can’t contest an election with all this happening.”

Along with the secessionists are innocent citizens who have been arrested, detained and in the cases of some jailed for 15-year sentences or longer, on trumped-up charges of terrorism, says Agbor Nkongho, director of Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) in Buea.

Nkongho himself was detained for eight months last year at the Kondengui prison in Yaounde and his trial was adjourned six times before a military tribunal acquitted him last August.

“I was detained alongside suspected Boko Haram insurgents,” he says. “There was this lady who was only released recently – she gave birth to her baby in prison.”

Mental health concerns

Beyond the detentions and displacements, there are concerns about the lingering trauma that could significantly hamper the healing and reintegration process for survivors.

Widows who have lost their spouses to flying bullets, children separated from their parents and citizens who have lost their incomes could have no life to return to.

For secessionist fighters, the option of an amnesty programme and “de-radicalisation” therapies are not on the table, as the government has reportedly backed a shoot-at-sight order with them as the targets.

“Election is overshadowing the crisis especially in the Francophone regions,” concurs Nkongho. “It is a non-issue in the south given the threat by the Ambazonia boys … We’ve not seen any plans to properly take care of the displaced people and the government is not admitting that there are refugees outside the country.”

Many are going through some torture, losing properties and going through serious psychological distress. They don’t know what will happen because things are so unpredictable. Parents watching their children get killed and children watching their parents murdered.

DR ERIC GOLA, MENTAL HEALTH SPECIALIST

The government’s humanitarian response has been underwhelming, say civil society leaders who point out that its relief programme factored in just 160,000 people, a number likely picked up from a UNOCHA report released earlier this year. The plan does not also address the urgent need for psychosocial support for the displaced population.

“The plan didn’t acknowledge refugees and so made no provision for those in Nigeria,” says Nkongho.

“Also, those who were to manage it are some of those seen as the enemy by the displaced and have no moral authority to implement things and distribute relief. We asked them to include civil society and the clergy who are neutral, but this wasn’t done. It has failed and it’s just a political scheme to show that President Biya cares.”

The CHRDA, which already provides legal aid and relief items to the vulnerable, is in discussions to get immediate psychological help for all those affected by the conflict.

Local churches are also gradually stepping in to fill the void by organizing small-scale trauma healing workshops, but there are few seasoned professionals to join in the process.

Abuse of substances like cannabis and tramadol is also common across both regions, warns Dr Eric Gola, a mental health specialist in Kumbo, in the northwest region.

Since the conflict began in 2016, he has been working with Berikids, one of the few rehabilitation centres nationwide.

“Many are going through some torture, losing properties and going through serious psychological distress. They don’t know what will happen because things are so unpredictable. Parents watching their children get killed and children watching their parents murdered. Soldiers raping.

“The Ambazonia boys are now taking up arms and getting involved in substance abuse to get courage to fight since they are untrained. It is affecting them mentally and rehabilitation centres will face a deluge in the post-war future because most families will have serious psychiatric cases because of the trauma of war.”

Gola was contacted a few months ago by some Catholic priests who wanted to establish centres for managing psychosocial disorders and post-traumatic stress conditions pending the outcome of the conflict. It’s a drive that he wishes the government had.

“The president declared war on Southern Cameroons,” he laments. “He has the yam and the knife to stop the war, release those in detention in connection to the crisis, demilitarise both regions and organise a dialogue with all parties concerned.”

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Soldiers in Buea have shot dead two unarmed boys at Campaign Street Two, Great Soppo, Buea.

A witness narrates,  » I saw the military passed as I was carrying water downstairs and then they shot about four times. I thought they were shooting in the air then I heard people crying and went out and saw two corpses. They are just boys from the quarter ».

Relatives of the victims are in shock after today’s ghost town day morning shootings.
The incident happened around 9:00 am. The two boys are said to be working at a carwash and where at their job site where they were gunned.

« The military asked them to identify themselves which they did. And then the soldiers told them to run away…Unfortunately, the same soldiers shot at the boys as they obeyed the instructions, » a local told Mimi Mefo infos.

Author: Mimi Mefo

Source: mimimefoinfos

Before Anglophone teachers and lawyers went on strike, before several mass protests in major English-speaking towns, before the Cameroonian government started arresting and imprisoning protesters,  Nti was a farmer and waterside worker helping boat drivers offload their bags of cocoa and other goods.

After several attempt to get into the police, army and customs, Nti felt he had no chance of landing a job in his village near the city of Mamfé in Cameroon’s southwest region. His elder brother who had a degree also had difficulties getting a job.

Many young men in the English-speaking regions like Nti have similar stories of struggle and frustration. Today, both 22-year-old Nti and his brother have joined thousands of other separatists fighters caught up in a deadly wave of violence with government security forces since November last year.

As of May this year, the crisis has displaced at least 180, 000 people, including more than 21,000 who fled to Nigeria. Nigerian emergency officials and NGOs estimate that the number might be as high as 50, 000.

What started as a strike by lawyers and teachers in late 2016 to protest the use of French in courts and schools in Cameroon’s English-speaking northwest and south-west regions has morphed into a vicious crisis.  At least one person was shot dead on the first day of the protests in November 2016. Then  on 1 October, 2017 when the new state of Ambazonia was declared by separatists, Amnesty International say at least 17 people were killed during demonstrations.  And in November 2016, security forces arrested some 100 people in the city of Bamenda and many people treated with bullet wounds in hospital in the city of Bamenda, capital of the northwest region.

“We only started peaceful demonstrations, but the government started jailing us every day and becoming violent,” says Michael, a fighter with one of the rebel groups.

“This is something that could be settled with dialogue, yet the troops chose to use force against us. It was never a gateway for peace because boys will raise to fight back.”

Michael’s younger brother was arrested and is still in jail following the declaration of the independence for the new state called “Ambazonia” by separatist in October last year.

Nti, 22, says most young men join self-defence separatist groups out of frustration.

Nti, 22, says most young men join self-defence separatist groups out of frustration. (Linus Unah/TRTWorld)

Cameroon has a population of about 24 million people, some 20 percent are Anglophones. The country is divided into ten administrative, semi-autonomous regions of which two are predominantly English-speaking regions.  Majority of the population in the Anglophone regions often complain of lack of job opportunities, economic development and the predominance of French and French-speaking  people in official documents, and public offices.

The journey towards an insurgency

Though long-standing grievances resulting from a deep-seated feeling of discrimination have often pervaded the Anglophone community as far back as the 1980s, calls for either greater autonomy or secession have grown louder and more ferocious since late 2016.

The roots of the conflict run deeper.

Three years after British and French troops sent Germans away from Cameroon in 1919, the country’s 80 percent was administered by the French and 20 percent by the British. The British administrative zones were further divided into Northern and Southern Cameroons.

After French Cameroon gained independence in 1960 to become the Republic of Cameroon, the UN sponsored a plebiscite that allowed the British territories to either join Nigeria or French Cameroon. British-administered Northern Cameroon joined Nigeria, but the Southern Cameroons — now splintered into present-day northwest and southwest regions – joined French Cameroon to form the newfangled Federal Republic of Cameroon in 1961.

But the lure of federalism was stifled by a constitutional referendum that, in 1972, saw Cameroon change to a unitary state to become the United Republic of Cameroon. This disillusionment was further compounded by current president Paul Biya, who, after coming into power in 1982, changed the name of the country to the Republic of Cameroon. Mr Biya, who is now 85, announced that he will run for re-election next month. Currently, only three out of 33 Cameroonian generals and six of the 63-person cabinet members are Anglophones.

 ‘Joining the struggle’

Nti, the separatist guerilla,  spends most of his time in camps tucked away in the forest, while trekking for several days and clambering mountains as his group takes on the army. When he joined the separatist fighters in October last year, his parents protested and his mother would occasionally quarrel and harangue him whenever he came home for a short visit. But now, he says, they are used to his being fighter and only pray for him.

Nti belongs to the Ambazonia Defence Forces, which is fighting government-backed security forces alongside a slew of other self-defense groups such as Ambazonia Restoration Army, The Tigers of Ambazonia, and Southern Cameroons Defense Forces, most of whom are under the aegis of the Ambazonia Self-Defence Council.

“What do you want us to do?” he asks, adding: “We cannot sit back and watch the army kill our families and relatives and burn down our villages without reacting; so I joined the struggle out of annoyance.” Nti’s eyes rolls around almost like a predator in search of prey. He takes several seconds and sometimes minutes to reflect before he talks.

After using satellite imagery to evaluate 131 villages, Human Rights Watch said in a report in June that “several hundred homes showing signs of destruction consistent with arson in 20 villages of the South-West region alone.” The report further maintained that testimonies from villagers showed that security officials were responsible for the burnings.

Cameroonian refugees in Agbokim Waterfall village wait outside a centre to receive assistance.

Cameroonian refugees in Agbokim Waterfall village wait outside a centre to receive assistance. (Linus Unah/TRTWorld)

At one of the banks of several rivers flowing through the border area in Nigeria’s southeast, John bantered with his friends. Their talk segued from was a farmer and owner of a roadside petrol stall before the crisis uprooted people from their villages and turned boisterous towns into ghost towns. He said he “joined the struggle” because Cameroon is “designed to favour French people over us.”

John, 24, said he tried taking entrance examinations (widely known as concours) into the police. He says he spent more than $400 in getting required documents, buying physical stamps, and paying officials who promised to help him in the north-western Cameroon city of Bamenda.

But, in the end, nothing came of it.

“I watched as all the money I laboured to save from my hustle went down in vain,” he says, his eyes welling up with tears. “Then when the crisis started, I just knew I was going to join the fighters because we were getting frustrated and cheated by the [Francophone] every day.”

Most fighters TRT World interviewed often call the battle with Cameroonian soldiers a struggle, so it is common to hear them say “I joined the struggle”.

“It is a struggle to better our lives and free our land from the French Cameroon who have been marginalizing us for many decades,” 26-years-old Michael, who is with the Ambazonia Defence Forces, explains. “When somebody comes to your house, kills your mum, kills your dad, kills your sister, what will you do?”

Before joining the ranks of fighters, Michael, who has a General Certificate of Education Advanced Level, has written at least ten concours for the army, police, gendarme, the Battalion d’Intervention Rapide (an elite combat unit of the Cameroonian army), customs, health personnel training institution, and more.

“When you put all these things together you can see why it is easy to become frustrated,” he  says.

Both sides have been accused of grave human rights violations. In June, Amnesty International released a report which found that security forces carried out arbitrary arrests, torture, unlawful killings, and destruction of property, including burning down villages in Anglophone regions.

The report, which is based on interviews with over 150 victims and eye-witnesses as well as satellite images, documents how armed separatists killed security forces and attacked some 42 schools between February 2017 and May 2018 for not participating in a boycott of schools in the Anglophone regions. Rebel fighters have also been accused of kidnapping and attacking civilians.

“Their heavy-handed response will do nothing to calm the violence – in fact it is likely to further alienate Anglophone communities and fuel further unrest,” Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Deputy Director for West and Central Africa, says of the military crackdown.

 Though 22, Nti’s furrowed forehead and calloused hands tell of his sojourn in the forest, sleeping in tarpaulin-covered camps with a cook and TV to help them keep abreast of happenings around them. After recruitment, fresh fighters received rapid series of trainings in kickboxing, handling guns and explosives, among others.

Nti uses a dane gun, and he says most fighter use this old-fashioned rifled musket and some use handguns and locally-manufactured hunting rifles.

But since the Cameroonian soldiers are not only well trained but also heavily armed with assault weapons, separatist fighters know better than to go to battle without any form of magic or protection.  Locally known as the Amba-boys or Amba warriors, separatist fighters also  wear amulets and necklaces for protection. This magic – which is known as Odeshi – is usually prepared by local medicine men and helps  separatist fighters stave off  bullets from the army.

“We all have Odeshi [charm],” Nti tells TRT World, as he ambles to a nearby thick undergrowth. He pluck a stem from a grass and boldly declares: “This is one of the leaves we use in preparing the Odeshi.”

Despite the use of Odeshi, some of the fighters who spoke to TRT World still have reverence for God. “Every morning when we wake we pray before we sing the Ambazonia national anthem,” Nti reveals.

“We even have a pastor in our camp. The government has declared, so we must use everything we have to fight back and save our people from oppression.

Author: LINUS UNAH

Source: trtworld

FOR MORE AMBAZONIA NEWS AND LATEST UPDATE, CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW SCBC TV ON TWITTER

Amnesty International says its experts have verified two videos from Cameroon’s Anglophone regions that, two years after peaceful protests were met by military force under President Paul Biya, now demonstrate escalating violence in the West African nation.

The first video shows the decapitation and mutilation of a gendarme, presented by someone claiming to be a member of the Amabazonia armed separatist group. The second video is connected to the first and adds information about the seizure of the gendarme’s AK Chinese Type 56 weapon.

“Amnesty is not yet in a position to independently confirm the exact location of where the videos were shot, but analysis suggests it might be in the area of Belo, in the North West region which has been badly affected by the crisis,” the international NGO said.

Amnesty also documented attacks on ordinary citizens and students, and appealed to the armed separatists to stop.

“With the upcoming elections in Cameroon, we have reason to fear a further upsurge in violence,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “We may well see an escalation in the number of security incidents and increased activity by armed separatists threatening to disrupt the electoral process at all costs in the Anglophone regions.”

Some 400 people have now been killed by either government forces or the separatists. Many Anglophone leaders also remain in detention. Cameroon’s crisis has sparked tensions with neighboring Nigeria, and is a regional stability concern as well as an international security issue.

“The situation is reaching a critical threshold and the risk of mass atrocity crimes occurring in the immediate future is very high if effective preventive action is not taken,” warned the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect on Friday.

Author: AT editor

Source: africatimes

FOR MORE AMBAZONIA NEWS AND LATEST UPDATE, CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW SCBC TV ON TWITTER

error: Access Denied!