Tag

Violence

Browsing

The United States demanded an immediate end to violence in Cameroon on Thursday and a speedy start to talks between the government and Anglophone separatists without preconditions.

U.S. deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the Security Council that security and humanitarian conditions in Cameroon’s English-speaking North West and South West regions “have significantly deteriorated.”

October was the most violent month on record in recent years — and November is likely to surpass it, he said.

Hundreds have been killed in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions in months of fighting between the military and separatists who claim they are marginalized in the largely French-speaking country.

“The violence must stop now,” Cohen said. “The United States calls for an immediate and broad-based reconciliatory dialogue, without preconditions. … We urge all sides to foreswear violence, to restore peace, and to resolve their grievances through political dialogue.”

He said the escalating violence is obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid to over 430,000 internally displaced people as well as education and health access to children in rural areas.

Reena Ghelani, director of U.N. humanitarian operations, warned that Cameroon is “one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa,” saying that in addition to those who have fled their homes and remain in the country over 30,000 Cameroonians have crossed the border into Nigeria seeking refuge.

The majority of internally displaced Cameroonians “are hiding in dense forests, without adequate shelter and lacking food, water and basic services,” Ghelani said. “Schools and markets are also disrupted and there are alarming health needs.”

“We note with great concern the deteriorating situation with respect to the protection of civilians, including reported killings, burning of homes and villages, extortion and kidnappings in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon,” she said, adding that there have been multiple attacks on schools and threats to students and teachers.

British deputy ambassador Jonathan Allen said the United Kingdom takes Ghelani’s warning very seriously and announced a $3.1 million contribution from the government to the U.N. appeal for the Anglophone regions to address immediate humanitarian and medical needs.

This represents 20 percent of the U.N. appeal, he said, urging other countries to contribute.

Both Allen and Cohen stressed Cameroon’s important role in fighting against the Boko Haram group and other Islamic State extremists.

Cohen noted Cameroon President Paul Biya expressed confidence in his inaugural address on Nov. 6 that “there is an honorable way out in everyone’s interest.”

The United States encourages Biya “to make good on his commitment to accelerate the decentralization process” and implement recommendations of a Cameroonian commission on bilingualism and multiculturalism, Cohen said.

Allen said that “words alone will not improve things” and strongly urged Cameroon’s government to take urgent action to start a dialogue, undertake confidence-building measures, allow humanitarian access throughout the country, and ensure “accountability for all those responsible for human rights violations and abuses.”

Source: Foxnews

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

Incumbent Paul Biya has won Cameroon’s presidency for a seventh time, taking a reported 71 percent of the vote. DW’s Fred Muvunyi says it’s another seven years of pain that Cameroonians will have to endure.

Now that Paul Biya has been declared the winner of Cameroon’s presidential election, the country will continue on its downward trajectory, with the possibility of increased violence and the same sort of audacious impunity that has long characterized his 36-year rule.

For me, it’s another missed opportunity to get rid of a dictator. A missed opportunity to give hope to the majority of young Cameroonians who have not seen any other leader in their lives. The opposition says the October 7 vote was rigged in favor of the incumbent.

After failing to oust Biya through the ballot box, opposition politician Kah Walla told me that she would stage protests to take down Africa’s second longest-serving leader. It’s a risky option to remove Biya by force, but given the anger and frustrations of Cameroonians, this seems to be the only left option. However, they should also expect a heavy-handed response from the man who has ruled with an iron fist for nearly four decades.

When I touched down in Douala early on the morning on October 5, Biya’s high-elevated billboards were all over the town, shamelessly proclaiming “La force de l’experience” — loosely translated in English as “the power of experience.” When I asked people what message he had been selling on the campaign trail, the answer was “nothing.”

The 85- year-old managed to show up only once in Cameroon’s far north, one of the country’s most impoverished communities. One opposition leader told me that Biya had no reason to campaign because the voters’ choice doesn’t matter. What matters is Biya’s well-positioned allies that rig the election for him.

Who else can win the election by merely showing up on the ballot paper without campaigning? Biya never bothered appealing to Cameroonians to vote for him. He is arrogant and has lost touch with ordinary citizens in the country. Now he claims to be the winner with 71 percent of the votes. What a joke!

Corruption is rot

Although I had valid documents to travel and work in Cameroon, I had to pay money to be allowed to pass through every police and military checkpoint. Even at the international airport in Douala, staffers there extort money from passengers. I’m not recounting a story of someone else: It’s my personal experience. Bribes are evident in most African countries, but Cameroon is on another level. An anti-corruption organization, Transparency International, puts Cameroon among the most corrupt nations in the world, taking the 153rd spot out of 175 countries.

Biya is taking the lead. He himself has spent at least four and a half years in total on private trips in the 36 years he has been president, according to research supported by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Biya has made himself at home in Geneva’s five-star Intercontinental hotel, paying the total bill and chartered jet costs of around $182 million (€156 million).

Violence all over the country

While in Cameroon a few days ago, I saw how the central African nation is sliding into a terrible civil war that the world will only wake up to when nobody is left to save.

The worsening crisis is mostly the result of the Biya regime, using brutality and indiscriminate violence as a first resort, instead of dialogue, to address valid grievances from the country’s English-speaking minority. In silencing them, soldiers have killed about 4,000 Anglophone civilians, according to the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, a nongovernmental organization based in Buea, the capital of southwestern Cameroon. Around 500,000 people are displaced — many live in forests fearing government soldiers.

There are no signs the violence will stop anytime soon.

While I was in the war-ravaged regions, guns could be heard day in and day out. Bodies were scattered on the streets, and most places were completely deserted, instead occupied by heavily-armed government soldiers.

I come from Rwanda, a country that went through civil war and genocide two decades ago. I lost my close relatives when the international community looked away, abandoning minority Tutsis who were being slaughtered at the time. I’m afraid that Cameroon is taking the same path Rwanda took 24 years ago.

I’m not pleading to the international community to stop the violence and the rogue regime of Paul Biya, because I’m already disappointed with the West. I’m merely asking Cameroonians, both English and French speakers, to stand up for their country and take down selfish leaders who are tearing them apart. Thirty-six years of pain and anguish is too much to endure. Don’t take it anymore and don’t let Biya play over your life again.

Author:  Fred Muvunyi

Source: allafrica

Click here to follow SCBC TV on Twitter

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

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

• New video shows gendarme’s decapitated head
• 160 members of security forces killed by armed separatists 
• More than 260 security incidents perpetrated by both the armed separatists and security forces in 2018

The brutal attacks against ordinary people and security forces are further proof of the horrific escalation of violence in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions, Amnesty International said today.

The organization’s forensic experts have authenticated two videos which were received late last week. In the first video, an individual identifies himself as being a member of the armed separatist’s group “Ambazonia Liberation Forces”. The same video shows images of a gendarme’s decapitated head.

In the second video, which is believed to be a continuation of the first clip, a voice can be heard saying that the armed separatists had taken the gendarme’s rifle, which Amnesty International identified as an AK Chinese Type 56, a model that is ubiquitous in the region.

The situation in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon is becoming increasingly desperate with no one spared from the violence which is spiralling out of control

Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa

“The situation in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon is becoming increasingly desperate with no one spared from the violence which is spiralling out of control,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

According to Amnesty International’s forensic experts, the gendarme had bruises on his head, which was laid on a blood-soaked white cloth with what could be his genitalia placed nearby.

Amnesty International 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. Belo is also close to Njinikom, a town and commune in the North West Region of Cameroon, where the armed separatist’s group “Ambazonia Liberation Forces” is known to operate.

“By also attacking and kidnapping students and teachers, we have reasons to believe many other lives of ordinary people are now at risk with the violence carried out by some members of the armed separatists groups. This must immediately stop,” said Samira Daoud.

400 ordinary people killed

As a result of the violence in the Anglophone regions, up to 400 ordinary people have been killed since a year by both the security forces and the armed separatists.

Amnesty International has also recorded more than 260 security incidents since the beginning of the year, ranging from clashes between armed separatists and security forces, kidnappings of members of the general population and the killing of security forces by armed separatists. The incidents also include unlawful killings by the security forces and the destruction of private properties by both sides.

“Perpetrators from both sides who have attacked and killed people or destroyed their properties must not continue to walk free. The authorities in Cameroon must commit to urgently, promptly, independently and effectively investigating these crimes,” said Samira Daoud.

Since the start of the crisis in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions in late 2016, Amnesty International has documented the deaths of more than 160 members of the security forces at the hands of armed separatists. However, the death toll could be much higher as attacks go underreported.

On 3 September, in the town of Bafut in the North West region, armed separatists kidnapped seven students and the head of the Presbyterian Comprehensive Secondary School (PCSS), who was tortured and seriously injured while in captivity. The hostages were released in the following days and the head of the school was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Also around 10 September, armed separatists attacked the positions of soldiers stationed near the well-known St. Joseph’s College Sasse in the town of Buea, causing an intense exchange of fire between them and the security forces. People living around told Amnesty International that they have heard heavy gunfire for a few hours on the night of the incident.

Violence will only fuel further incidents, crimes and untold suffering. The government must act immediately against this in an attempt to restore peace in the Anglophone regions

Samira Daoud

“With the upcoming elections in Cameroon, we have reason to fear a further upsurge in violence. 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,” said Samira Daoud

“Violence will only fuel further incidents, crimes and untold suffering. The government must act immediately against this in an attempt to restore peace in the Anglophone regions.”

Background

In its June 2018 briefing, A turn for the worse: Violence and human rights violations in Anglophone Cameroon, Amnesty International highlighted a series of acts of violence committed by armed separatists in the two Anglophone regions. The document featured cases of ordinary people, including teachers and traditional chiefs, who were assaulted and abducted by armed separatists.

The June briefing also documented how security forces have burnt down villages, indiscriminately killed, arrested and tortured dozens of people during military operations which have displaced thousands of civilians both within the Anglophone regions and in Nigeria.

Author: Samira Daoud

Source: Amnesty International

error: Access Denied!