Tag

NGO

Browsing

THE US PUTS OUT MORE TROUBLING STUFF

The Human Rights Report card on Cameroon by the US State Department could be the same smooking gun the US could use to “refer the separatist conflict in Cameroon to an international forum”, (ie the International Criminal Court or UN Security Council).

You can read damning excerpts of the US State Department Report on Cameroon for 2018 here.

  1. “Government security forces were widely believed to be responsible for disappearances of suspected Anglophone separatists, with reports of bodies dumped far from the site of killings to make identification difficult.
  2. According to credible nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the government did not readily account for some of the activists arrested in connection with the Anglophone crisis.
  3. Family members and friends of the detainees were frequently unaware of the
    missing individuals’ location in detention for a month or more. For example, authorities held incommunicado Ayuk Sisiku Tabe, the “interim president” of the so-called Republic of Ambazonia, along with 46 other Anglophone separatists, from January 29 until late June when they were allowed to meet with their lawyers and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
  4. “There were credible reports that members of government forces physically abused and killed prisoners in their custody. In its July report, Human Rights Watch highlighted the case of Samuel Chiabah, popularly known as Sam Soya, whom members of government forces interrogated under harsh conditions and killed, following the killing of two gendarmes by armed separatists at a checkpoint between Bamenda and Belo in the Northwest Region. A video widely circulated on social media featured Sam Soya sitting on the floor and being questioned about the killings, along with one other suspect. In the video Sam Soya could be heard crying in agony and denying participation in the killings. Photographs were released on social media that showed members of security forces in uniform using a bladed weapon to slice open Sam Soya’s neck and the leg of the other man, both of whom were lying face down on the floor and in handcuffs.”
  5. To read complete report, please, open this link:https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/289187.pdf

NO CRIME IS PERFECT. THIS COULD BE THE SMOOKING GUN THAT WILL BE USED TO REFER THIS MATTER TO AN INTERNATIONAL FORUM. SO STAY TUNED.

DR. DAVID MAKONGO

In the past year, certain prominent NGOs have been peddling the impression that the violence taking place right now in Ambazonia is a conflict between two sparing parties. Invoking the value of political neutrality, they rush to always address what “both sides” are doing in “equal measure.”

This is equivalent to narrating the David and Goliath fight as a “fair match”.

In fact, the reality is more like a conflict between ten Goliaths who have each been given training and supplies by some of the biggest armies in the world (France, the US and Israel), and one David with a single slingshot. Any reasonable person can see that actual neutrality in narrating this conflict would be proportional attention to the harm being wrecked by this Goliath Army vs. by David’s slingshot. The politically biased behavior is to narrate the conflict as though there is a parity, when there quite clearly is not.

As we pointed out in our critique of Amnesty International’s June 2018 report on Cameroon, when US President Trump tried to say that there was “violence on both sides” during the August 2017 neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville, VA, a broad-based chorus of press and humanitarian voices unilaterally rejected this narrative wholesale, and correctly so. In the same way, we unilaterally reject this false equivalency between the Ambazonian resistance and the Cameroon military that the NGO-industrial complex is peddling.

What is the political motive to this distortion? While some people repeating this narrative may not be aware of it, the main function of this distortion is to distract people from the power dynamics at play, and to discourage attention to the actual political demands of the aggrieved party.

In the 1990s, the same sort of “equal violence on both sides,” narrative destroyed the international solidarity network that had formed around the pro-democracy movement in CongoDRC started by the Union for Democracy & Social Progress (UDPS).

Founded in 1982, UDPS introduced the continent of Africa anew to the General Strike, or “Operation Ghost Town” as it would soon become known all over the continent. With the power of this tool of mass nonviolent resistance, UDPS forced the national conference to revise the constitution, ushering in democratic reforms on the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Across Africa, others copied the Ghost Town tactic, introducing multiparty politics in Cameroon, bringing about the fall of the dictator in Congo-Brazzaville, and launching a wave of democratic reforms across the continent.

Then some regime holdouts in CongoDRC started instigating attacks and trying to stoke inter-communal violence in certain parts of the country. As some communities responded in self-defense, a group of mostly international NGOs and media outlets started in with the “equal violence on both sides” narrative. Soon international solidarity for the cause of the UDPS collapsed and all discussion shifted to these “violent parties” who had imposed themselves on the body politics of the CongoDRC, and how to help the “poor victims caught in the middle.” Everyone stopped talking about the actual grievances and demands of the UDPS. And the rest is history.

That is just one example. Below is a partial list of other examples where large human rights NGOs rushed to introduce “both sides/equivalency” narratives in situations of vastly unequal power.
Rwanda: Deliver Justice for Victims of Both Sides
South Sudan: New Abuse of Civilians by Both Sides
Ivory Coast: Both Sides Responsible for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity (Compare with this documentary from Italian Public TV)
Libya: Amnesty finds abuses on both sides
Eastern Ukraine: Tortured by Both Sides
Philippines: Both Sides in Marawi Siege Committed Abuses (also here & here)
Yemen: Both Sides Committing Abuses; No Justice for War Crimes

You’ll notice that most of these examples are in Africa!

That is why APOCS Network will not allow anybody to peddle the “equal violence on both sides” narrative on our just struggle. It is true that some communities did resort to the use of force to defend themselves following the cold-blooded massacre of peaceful protesters with helicopter gunship on October 1, 2017. But these actions, which came after 56 years of completely nonviolent resistance, are like David slinging a rock at a Goliath Army of bulletproof tanks. And the crushing lethal crackdown by the Cameroon regime in response is no more justified than if a gang of fully-armed Goliaths were to accost their tiny foe with the full force of their weaponry just because he managed to hit one of them with a single rock.

More importantly, our community’s use of force in self-defense is not more important than the REASONS our people are struggling in the first place. Any presentation that erases the actual grievances when narrating particular actions is participating in the process of erasing what is actually going on, which is a decades-long-in-coming uprising against an excessively unjust situation.

Another reason that respected NGOs are participating in this distorting narrative is that it plays into a longstanding racist idea that Africans are just particularly prone to fighting with each other. Perhaps some individuals propagating this narrative are not aware, but they are drawing from an old and powerful stereotype that has been used repeatedly to dumb down discussion of the specific drivers of conflicts in Africa.

The subtext is that African conflicts do not deserve to be narrated using serious political analysis that delves into the history, geopolitics and economics underlying them — which would require that Global North-dominated NGOs and policy makers put time and expertise to understand these complexities. Instead, African conflicts can just be narrated like a sports game, since what can you expect anyway when dealing with these inherently violence-prone Africans.

In this instance, when APOCS Network has introduce historical context and political-economic motives into the discussion, we have been repeatedly told “we aren’t interested in the content underlying the conflict.”

Of course this narrative helps the powerful party in the conflict! It does so by shifting attention away from the actual abuses they have inflicted that have led to the resistance. In most cases, that powerful party is a neocolonial dictator, or mercenaries recruited by European mining interest as was the case in CongoDRC. in this way, the “equal violence on both sides” narratives actively uphold the status quo of white supremacist control of Africa’s resources.

This is why we will fact check every report on our struggle no matter the reputation of the entity producing the report. Any entity or individual who actually cares about African liberation should take these critiques in stride and respond in good faith.

Source: ambazoniapocs

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!