Human Rights violation committed by the military between May and August 2020 in the North- West (NWR) and Southwest (SWR) Regions of Cameroon
The State Defence and Security Forces continue to engage in gross human rights violations in the NWR and SWR of Cameroon. The Anglophone crisis started in 2016 and had metamorphosed into an armed conflict by 2018, pitting government troops against non-state armed groups. Since then, Cameroonians have witnessed gross human rights violations and abuses, perpetrated against civilians by fighters on both sides.
On 13 August 2020, CHRDA issued a press release, calling on the armed groups to stop committing human rights abuses against civilians. The statement includes details of violations covering the full spectrum of war crimes, including, among others: murder, hostage-taking and ransom demands, recruitment of child soldiers, intimidation and harassment of the population as well as the use of lethal weapons within civilian-inhabited areas. The report featured the most recent beheading of a woman in Muyuka, SWR and another in Mile 90 in Bamenda, NWR.
The military is equally violating human rights. Between May and August 2020, CHRDA has documented gross human rights violations committed by the Defence and Security Forces. In such violations, civilians are the primary victims. There have been extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, looting and extortion, poor prison conditions, and inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees. Inhabitants have also seen their homes and villages burned down by the military in the two English-speaking regions, forcing civilians to flee from their homes and seek refuge in other towns as IDPs or simply flee to the bushes.
The massacre on 28 May 2020 in Buea, SWR
On Thursday 28 May 2020, the military conducted an offensive raid in the neighbourhood of Upper Bonduma, situated in Buea, the chief town of the SWR, which led to the killing of four unarmed young men. The incident took place in an uncompleted building, in which the young men were allegedly caught smoking cannabis before the military executed them. According to our sources, the army raided the building. The young men were then heard crying in pain from being beating for close to 45 minutes. And then gunshots were heard.
The authorities prevented the local population from accessing the scene of the incident. However, the bodies of the young men were subsequently moved to the mortuary after several Buea local administration authorities had visited the scene. They included: Mr Abba Abdouraman, Divisional Officer (DO) of the Sub-Division; Mr David Namange, Lord Mayor of Buea; and Mr Eyenga, commander of the motorised infantry brigade.
To document this case, CHRDA spoke to 4 eyewitnesses, one survivor of the attack and five journalists, who gave corroborative testimony of the incident. CHRDA could confirm these testimonies because the building in which the young men were killed is situated about 150 metres from CHRDA office building, and the gunfire in the building could be heard clearly at CHRDA’s main office.
A survivor of this attack said that they were 11 boys all together in the building. The army killed four, shot one of them in the hand and another in the leg. The rest sustained injuries but escaped. It was about 1 pm when they all gathered in the building to smoke cannabis, which they did there often. Seven soldiers (gendarmes) wearing face mask stormed the building. They came in a yellow taxi with tinted windows and an unregistered number plate.
When the soldiers appeared, the young men wanted to run away because the soldiers were masked and armed, but ‘Black’ (the cannabis dealer) told them not to panic and that he would handle the matter. The young men listened to him and stayed put. This was not the first time they had had an encounter with soldiers in the particular building, because soldiers often come there to smoke cannabis with them, during which ‘Black’ would also pay them a bribe. That day was different, however, because the soldiers had never come wearing face masks.
One young man, who survived the attack, said: “When the soldiers came, ‘Black’ went out to meet them, and told them he had money to bribe them. He had earlier told us (the survivors) that he had CFA 500.000 on him at that moment. ‘Black’ began talking to the soldiers, and we also join to beg them. We knelt on the floor, and Black offered to pay them off so they could let us go, but things turned sour when he told them he had CFA 500.000 on him at that moment, and they opened fire on him and began shooting us too. They killed Black and three other boys. We stood up and ran away. They chased us and shot one other person in his hand and another in the leg. Our only crime was that we smoke cannabis. We were never involved in any criminal acts. First of all, ‘Black’ would never let us do that (steal and harass people). He is the gentlest drug dealer I have seen. ‘Black’ had told us that he sold drugs because he wanted to raise enough capital to start a business. That is why he did not involve himself in crime, and that is why we became friends. I hear they say they found bullets and weapons in that house in which we were smoking. That is a lie. I can swear on that. We all take drugs – that, I accept, ‘Black’ sold all types of drugs – but it ended at that.”
A few journalists from the local media who visited the building said that no weapons were found in the building, only that the building is a location for cannabis consumers. The only items they saw when they entered the building were an old machete that appeared to have been used by the builders during construction, a plate and a spoon, which show that someone had just eaten there, an old pair of women’s underpants and cigarette butts.
A survivor of the attack, who was later arrested at a medical facility in Buea while getting treatment for his bullet wound, said that about four days before the attack, approximately 20 young men from the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Centre (DDRC) invaded the building and beat them severely. “They came and had us well-beaten. They told us that all drug points and dealers in Buea answer to them, and pay a certain amount to them. They told us that everyone, except us, was paying. After beating us, we pleaded to pay them money, and they accepted and took a sum of CFA 100,000. They took the money and left, but they kept coming back to take drugs too. They would often come before us and would leave before we arrived. Recently, before the shooting, they came there, and after they left, we came in to smoke and saw women’s underwear thrown around. We became afraid but did nothing because ‘Black’ told us that he would try to negotiate and pay them off. I suspect that they might have told the gendarmes that we had money since we paid them CFA 100,000 bribe.”
CHRDA spoke to other witnesses who explained that the neighbourhood has been calm. “They smoke, but they don’t trouble us. The tall Commissioner was the one trying to force words into our mouths. He asked us why we did not report the boys to them. Why should we do that? Some countries have legalised cannabis. Even if this is not [the case in Cameroon], the punishment for using it should not be murder. The Commissioner also said that they saw women’s pants in there, which meant that those boys were raping women and girls. Unless they (the soldiers) brought the underwear with them, I don’t know how that could happen. Nobody has raped a woman or girl around here. I know that they planned to kill those children, or else why did they not just arrest them and investigate?” he asked.
Another witness told CHRDA that they saw the soldiers when they arrived in an unregistered taxi but were not very concerned and did not suspect anything. When they drove down towards that house, they heard gunshots. Everyone was frightened and ran away from the road. After a while, following the shooting, people began to gather. Those who killed the children had finally gone, because initially they shot them, drove off and then quickly came back again. It was when people gathered around there that pictures of the victims were taken and circulated on social media.
This is not the first case of arbitrary executions in Buea, within the context of the Anglophone crisis. On Monday 30 July 2018, five young men in the locality of Bakweri Town were massacred under similar circumstances. On Thursday 27 September 2018, the military (Brigade d’Intervention Rapide – BIR) killed seven unarmed civilians in a compound on Ikundi Street in the Babuti neighbourhood of Buea town.
The execution of Ebangi Brice in Bangem, SWR
On Saturday 4 July 2020, Ebangi Brice, a native of Bangem was shot at close range and killed by the military. The military killed him for ringing a church bell. They claim he was alerting the local population to escape after they arrived in the village to carry out an operation. A family member of the victim told CHRDA that Brice was a very calm young man and youth leader in the Presbyterian Church in Bangem. Before his murder, he had accompanied the church pastor, who had been transferred from Bangem to Tombel. When he returned to Bangem, he stayed the night in the church house. In the morning, he went out and rang the church bell, as usual, to call Christians for morning prayers. On that day the military was conducting a raid in the village, and when Brice rang the Church Bell at 5 am, the army came and shot him dead. They said he had alerted separatist fighters to flee. They killed him and arrested dozens of persons, forcing them to sit on the grass. The army tortured some of them and wounded a young man in his right arm. He was beaten with the butt of a gun and bled so profusely that he had to seek medical attention outside the village. They also burnt down a private house and looted property.
Military operations in Menchum Division, NWR
On 20 July 2020, the military stormed Modelle Village, in Menchum Valley Sub Division, and attacked the civilian population in reprisal for the death of three soldiers killed by separatist fighters. A witness to the attack told CHRDA that when the forces of law and order arrived Modelle, they burnt down houses and shot three people. Among the victims was Igang Mica, a young man resident in Bamenda, who had arrived in the village that same day for his father’s memorial service and was arrested by the military. An eye witness said he pleaded with the soldiers, offering the sum of CFA 100,000 for them to spare the victim, to no avail. The military later took him in their vehicle to an unknown destination. Igang Mica’s corpse was discovered one week later by a woman on her way to the farm.
Another witness told CHRDA that a man called Mr Kuta Daniel was equally arrested and tortured to death by the military. He was arrested in his compound while clearing his farm and taken to a quarter called Bouzeh, where the soldiers made him drink whiskey. Kuta Daniel rejected the offer, as he didn’t like alcohol and was in pain from the soldiers’ beatings. He was immediately shot dead by the military. After they had killed him, they arrested another young man called Iba, who was on his way to sell goat meat. They ask him to show them where separatist fighters were hiding. He said he did not know, but they took him to the house of General Agha Robinson, a top-ranking military official and killed Iba by stabbing him in the neck. Soldiers were on guard at the General’s compound at the time.
The shooting of three children in Tiko, SWR
On 13 August 2020, the Defence and Security forces open fire on three children in Tiko, Fako Division of the SWR, and killed a 17-year-old girl called Bessem Blandine,in Form Two. The military took for a separatist fighter and shot her in the backyard of her home, as she and two other boys searched for snails. Her neighbour’s son, 14-year-old Elijah, escaped with a bullet wound after he was shot in the hand and was later taken to the hospital by his family where he is receiving treatment. The other boy is 16-year-old Ojong, who ran into the military, was arrested and taken to the army camp. He was released later on after his family had searched for him for several days and after the local women had staged a street protest in front of the DO’s office in Tiko. The shooting took place at about 8:30 pm, at Ebanja Rubber Camp in the CDC Plantation in Tiko. The lawyer for the victims, Barrister Ayokotang Ndep Nkongho, who went to follow up on the case, was arrested by gendarmes and kept in custody for one night at the Limbe Gendarmarie command post.
Military operations in Mautu, SWR
On 13 August, soldiers raided Mautu village on the outskirts of Ekona in Muyuka Sub-Division of the SWR and shot dead seven unarmed civilians. The victims, including an old man and a pregnant woman known as ‘Mami Blessing,’ were shot in their home at close range. Before these killings, the military had raided a local church on the outskirts of Mautu town and shot the church’s pastor and three other boys. The soldiers executed two boys alongside the pastor and shot one as he tried to escape. The soldiers invaded the church because the worshipers share a separatist ideology. In videos received an analysed by CHRDA, the worshipers are seen singing songs of praise in a local church, with the separatist flag hoisted on the roof and a signpost at the entrance to the church with the inscription “Repentant Servants Church of Ambazonia.” In another video, the military is seen interrogating the pastor in French. He is seated on the ground with two other boys behind him, with the separatist flag on them. The soldiers killed them later on. This is the second time in five months that the army is raiding the locality of Mautu. Earlier in January, the military raided the same locality and shot dead five unarmed civilians. The incident took place on Thursday 24 January 2020, when the army raided the village and killed Nkafo Hesten, Francis Bobe, Small Adi, Cletus and Eric. They were all taken out of their home and shot. The soldiers also raided motorbikes, looted property and tortured civilians.
On 27 June 27, soldiers searched the home of Mr Wirkom Mohamadou and took him away. Mohamadou, a suspected cannabis seller in Takijah village, Kumbo, Bui Division, NWR, was killed on the same day. His body was found the next morning at a quarry in Ntonghi, a village in Nso, located around Kikaikelaki. Family sources told CHRDA that Mohamadou was 47 years old and owned a provision store and a grinding mill at Takikah, where he went to work every morning. On that day, the BIR arrested him an accused him of trading in cannabis. They searched his house and found nothing, but took him away nevertheless. He was found dead the next day.
Military operations in Ikiliwindi, SWR
On Friday 20 August 2020, the military, in a search for separatist fighters, invaded Ikiliwindi, a locality in Meme Division of the SWR, and shot dead two unarmed civilians known by their nicknames ‘Pogba’ and ‘Bushfaller.’ Eyewitnesses told CHRDA that the military invaded the locality and people began fleeing into the bush, except for the two men who chose to hide in the house. The army came and arrested them. They presented their identity cards, but the military took them into the bush where they were shot and abandoned. An aid worker who has visited Ikiliwindi lamented the death of ‘Bushfaller’ as he was of great help to community aid workers in the locality. He told CHRDA that ‘Bushfaller’ was quite a good guy, very calm and always ready to help. “He was always drunk but was very friendly. On our last visit, he was talking of plans to relocate to Kumba after the cocoa season. Sadly, he had to die before realising his plans. This is just a brutal murder. The guy could hardly hurt anybody. I trekked with him for two hours, and he was all in my ear with his plans of relocation.” CHRDA also received and analysed amateur footage in which members of the community are lamenting over the bodies of the two victims, which they found in the bush, wishing they had they escaped when the alert was raised informing the community that soldiers were in the village.
ARBITRARY ARREST AND DETENTION OF CIVILIANS IN PRECARIOUS PRISON CONDITIONS
Arbitrary arrest and illegal detention are one of the methods employed by government forces to crack down on separatist fighters. Unfortunately, only the civilian population is suffering the effects. The military continues to arrest and detain civilians on the grounds of sharing separatist ideology, in precarious prison conditions. In July 2020, Rev. Tangem Thomas, a 57-year-old clergyman, who was part of the Mbengwi Monastery, NWR, died chained to his hospital bed in Yaounde. He was arrested in Mile 16, Buea, in 2018 and transferred to Yaounde where he was tortured in detention for two years without charge or trial. The poor prison conditions led to his deteriorating health and subsequent death in July 2020, handcuffed to a hospital bed.
Rev. Tangem’s case is no different from thousands of Anglophone detainees. The latter are arbitrarily arrested and detained in prison cells around the country, where authorities hold them for months without charge. In some cases, they are charged with terrorism, for which the penalty is death. This is the case with Nsom Glory, a 28-year-old student who was arrested in Penja, Wouri Sub-Division in the Mungo Division, and taken to Douala New Bell Prison in October 2018. Glory was arrested after the people of Bafang, who reside alongside Anglophones in Buba III, in Tombel Sub-Division, Kupe Manengouba Division in the SWR attacked Anglophones with support from the military and burnt down their houses on 11 September 2018. Glory, a student in a private school in Douala and who was in Buba for the weekend, fled to the bush with many other Anglophones where he remained until October 2018 when he came out of the bushes to Penja town. He had harvested plantain and cocoa from his farm, which he planned to sell and go back to school. The Bafang people apprehended him and handed to the military, claiming he was a separatist fighter who had come out of the bush.
The military took him to New Bell Prison where he has been for two years, charged with terrorism, for which he could face the death penalty. On 3 October 2019, after the conclusion of the Major National Dialogue, 102 persons benefitted from Presidential amnesty, including everyone arrested in Buba III, except Glory. After the fires in New Bell Prison in May 2020, a family member visited Glory and told CHRDA that Glory is losing his eyesight in prison. The detainee could not recognise his relative during the whole period of the prison visit. His health is deteriorating like with Rev. Tangem Thomas.
On 15 May 2020, the military arbitrarily arrested an Anglophone journalist in Douala, Mr Kingsley Njoka, and detained him incommunicado for several months. He was later traced to the Secrétariat d’Etat à la Défense (SED) in Yaounde. The search for Mr Njoka was massive, and human rights bodies all condemned his arrest, calling it arbitrary and urging the state to release him. He has since remained in detention. Journalists in Anglophone Cameroon have come under attack from the military, who accuse them of sharing separatist ideology. This is the case with Samuel Wazizi, who was arrested and tortured to death by the army in Yaounde. Several young men have been arrested and taken to a makeshift BIR camp located inside the Tole tea factory and to the army’s 21st Brigade d’Intervention Mobile (BIM) at the Reunification Monument in Buea, where the soldiers torture them. The soldiers violate the rights of persons detained in these two facilities, as they are prevented from receiving family visits, have no access to lawyers, and are held and tortured for months without charge.
On 12 August 2020, one day after the brutal murder of Comfort Afiri by separatist fighters, the military invaded Muyuka town and searched all the neighbourhoods. They brought out hundreds of civilians from their homes, seized motorbikes and farm tools, loaded more than 70 men in their military truck and took them to Buea where they are being held in custody. The Courts in Muyuka, which have jurisdiction to hear the matter of the arrested persons, was burnt down in 2018 by separatist fighters.
HARASSMENT AND EXTORTION OF CIVILIANS
The harassment and extortion of civilians is a daily reality in the NWR and SWR. On several occasions, civilians have been arbitrarily and unlawfully detained, and have paid a bribe to regain their freedom. Some die in the process, killed by the military. The military continues to fight in civilian-inhabited areas, and stray bullets have killed several civilians. On 30 July 2020, a carpenter called Cosmos was killed in his workshop when security forces opened fire in the Travelers neighbourhood, Nanga Junction in Bamenda.
On 6 July 2020, the military conducted a mass, cordoned search of Mamfe, Manyu Division, SWR, harassing and arresting over 60 persons, and later detaining them at the Mamfe Police station. Fifty were subsequently released, while ten remained in custody. The military launched the operation, following the circulation of notes and pamphlets purported to have been shared by the ‘Red Dragons,’ an armed separatist group, demanding a contribution of CFA 15,000 per person from the general population to buy weapons and ammunition. Among those not released were staff members from the Baptist Health Centre who, on 8 July 2020, were charged in the Mamfe High Court with failing to report separatist activities. They pleaded not guilty and were granted bail, leaving behind them others whose hearing was scheduled for 29 July 2020.
Some of the Baptist Health Centre staff were arrested in their medical uniforms. The matter against the Baptist Health workers eventually ended on 13 August when they were found not guilty. The harassment of health workers by the military is a common phenomenon in the two Regions. On 2 May 2020, the army shot and killed Mr Stanley Simo, a nurse in Kumbo, Bui Division, NWR; and on 21 July 2020, soldiers invaded the Shisong Hospital in Kumbo in search of suspected separatists. Before the invasion, shooting was typical around the hospital premises, and some patients have had to forgo treatment and run home to safety.
On 7 May 2020, the military began shooting at a market in Bali, Mezam Division, NWR. They had a confrontation with separatist fighters in the market and fired shots indiscriminately, disrupting market activities. Everyone abandoned their merchandise and ran for safety, with some people sustaining injuries. Following the shooting took place, the bodies of three young men were discovered at the entrance to the market the following morning.
On 7 July 2020, 39-year-old Ben Uze was tortured and maimed by the military in Wum, Menchum Division, NWR. Soldiers tortured him because he sold 10 litres of palm wine and some pineapples to soldiers who took the items but refused to pay. An eye witness said to CHRDA that Mr Uze reported the matter to the army commander who accused him in turn of associating with separatists. As a result, the soldiers beat him up and punctured his eyes and testes. They burst his testes with a knife and put sand on the wound. Mr Uze died of his injuries wounds in a hospital in Wum.
On 13 July 2020, a checkpoint jointly controlled by the Police, Army and Gendarmerie launched a mass arrest at Campaign Street in Buea, SWR. They went from door to door, pulling everyone out whether male or female, old or young. The lined them up in the street and asked them to sit on the ground. More than 700 people were taken out of their homes, whether they had an identity card or not. Personal information was collected from them by force (address, names and names of parents) and entered onto a list. The soldiers did not explain why they were establishing the list. They released most people later on but continued to detain those who did not have identity cards on them. Some people said that they had paid a bribe to be released. Similar operations, commonly referred to as ‘Cale Cale’ have taken place around the Bomaka neighbourhood in Buea, SWR.
On Thursday 6 August 2020, a joint team of Police, BIR, Army and Gendarmerie invaded Tarred Malingo Street, in Muea-Buea neighbourhood, SWR, harassing civilians and extorting money. At about 6 am, three military officers went to a man’s house and asked him for his identity card, which he provided. They questioned him about his occupation, and he told them that he did menial work. The soldiers gave him back his identity card and left. A few minutes later, another group of 9 police officers, gendarmes and soldiers forcefully demanded a sum of CFA 5,000 with no explanation. Out of fear, the man offered them CFA 2,000, which he said was all he had. They threatened to take him away and kill him if he didn’t pay the money. They took him a few metres away from his home and showed him their leader (who the man described as wearing a BIR uniform with a 3-star rank on it). One of the officers sent put his hand into the victim’s pocket and removed the CFA 2,000. They nevertheless insisted that he make up the difference so that they would get the CFA 5,000 they wanted. The man borrowed CFA 2,000 from his neighbour, which he handed to the officers. They, therefore, took a total of CFA 4,000 from him in exchange for his freedom. As he left the scene, he noticed that the military had brought five trucks. They had parked these on the roadside. Many other inhabitants of the area had been arrested and put into trucks.
Another victim told CHRDA that she was in front of her house with her children when the military came and asked for her identity card, which she gave to them. One of the soldiers pushed her into the house and out again. The others entered the house and ransacked every corner of it. They did not have a search warrant, nor did they explain their action. They took her wallet, which she said contained CFA 27,000. They took out CFA 25,000, leaving her with CFA 2,000. The military threatened her by saying that more of such operations would occur if the inhabitants do not expose the hideouts or identities of separatist fighters in the area.
Another victim, a 26-year-old lady, said that soldiers forced their way into her bedroom while she was asleep in bed and half-naked. They asked her to leave her room and sit on the ground outside. She refused to comply with the order because she was not adequately dressed. She was threatened and dressed up quickly. She then sat outside as instructed while they searched her house but took nothing. She also stated that she sat beside a group of persons who had been arrested in the raid. They were later taken away, spent one night in detention and paid a bribe the next day to be released.
On 25 August 2020, soldiers launched an operation in the Rendez-Vous neighbourhood in Bamenda, NWR, harassing civilians and causing malicious damage to property. The operation was in reprisal of the killing of one of their colleagues by armed separatist fighters in a neighbourhood called Mulang. The military invaded the area and burnt houses and motorbikes. They also ransacked business premises, destroying merchandise and beating unarmed civilians. Soldiers reportedly shot two people during the attack. At the time of writing this report, CHRDA cannot verify independently. This is not the first time the military is conducting such an operation and burning houses in Bamenda. In early 2019, soldiers burnt down over 50 homes in Mankon, in reprisal for an attack against them by separatist fighters. The Government reacted by issuing a statement in which it said that the soldiers were confused by the attack against them, and this is why they burnt down entire neighbourhoods in Mankon.
On 25 August 2020, soldiers launched a raid in Belo, Boyo Division, NWR, burning down homes and looting property. The soldiers carried out the invasion to dismantle a separatist fighters’ camp at a place called Aboh. Before they got there, the separatist fighters had escaped. The soldiers moved to another community called Anyajua, with over 15 trucks, and burnt private homes. Victims and eyewitnesses also said that they looted bags of potatoes as it was harvesting season in the area, which is well-known for growing potatoes. They also broke into shops and stole beer. At the time of writing this report, the military raid is still ongoing in Boyo, marked by human rights violations.
ARSON OF HOMES
In a publication of April 2019, CHRDA noted that over 206 villages were burnt down by the military, causing the displacement of more than 50,000 refugees and more than 500,000 internally displaced persons. The burning continued in 2020. In recent weeks, the Government announced a plan for the reconstruction of the NWR and SWR. This move, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), saw the creation of the Reconstruction and Recovery Commission. The Commission visited the NWR and SWR for a fact-finding mission and to seek collaboration with the local population and to set the reconstruction and recovery process in motion. Unfortunately, soldiers have continued to burn down homes and villages in the NWR and SWR.
On 17 July 2020, soldiers set fire in the village of Ikata, Muyuka Sub-division of the SWR. The burning of the village happened during a long week of military oppression in Muyuka. This was preceded by the gruesome beheading of a woman by separatists on 10 August 2020. The military had passed through Ikata the previous day and shot two unarmed civilians, killing 1, and leaving the other in a critical state in the hospital. To document this case, CHRDA spoke to the family of 24-year-old Otia Alain, who was shot dead by the military. CHRDA also talked to a couple of witnesses who said that Mr Otia Alain, a cocoa farmer, left the house that day despite a warning signal of a bell that the military was going past on their way to Muyenge, a locality in Muyuka Sub Division for a rotation of soldiers. After they had passed through Ikata, the villagers came back to their houses to continue with their normal daily activities. Someone gave a warning signal As the military was on its way back toMuyuka, a warning signal was given to the villagers about the return of the soldiers. The villagers again ran into the bushes for safety. Otia Alain left the farm, in which he had been for safety, to check on his father Otia Lucas who could not run. The soldiers were on their way to Muyuka, passing through Ikata. Unfortunately for Otia Alain who did not hear the second bell signal, the army caught up with him, opened fire, and the bullet hit him in the chest. His old father, who could not run, was also shot in his arm. Otia Alain died on the spot. His father was rushed to the regional hospital. The military raided the town of Muyuka in reprisal for the killing of Comfort Afiri by separatist fighters and shot two unarmed civilians on Thursday 19 August. The victims included a woman and a man who sells cocoa.
On Friday 17 July, soldiers set fire on five houses belonging to Messrs. Nsemeng Emmanuel and Mbah Julius Kese, in Pinyin, Santa Sub-Division, NWR. This occurred during a raid against separatist fighters in Pinyin. The attack resulted in a new wave of displacement as civilians fled into the bushes with their belongings. The attacks in Pinyin were followed by a similar operation on Saturday 25 July 2020, in which the military reportedly set fire to houses in the village of Mbuasoh in Bangem, Tombel Sub-Division, SWR. According to victims’ testimonies, the incident happened at about 6 am. The smoke from the burning houses and the sound of gunshots woke inhabitants. Another witness told CHRDA that he had to used his whistle to alert others of the danger so that everyone could flee. Soldiers burnt the houses after the military accused inhabitants of keeping and conspiring with separatist fighters. Although no death was registered, inhabitants lost valuable property. Inhabitants have been forced to flee their homes and return to the bushes, in fear for their lives.
CHRDA strongly condemns the conduct of soldiers against the population in the NWR and SWR, whether committed against armed separatist groups or the civilian population. Torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, as well as extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests and arson of homes, is unacceptable in any civilised society and completely prohibited under international law. This institutionalised culture of impunity, unaccountability, and widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses, which has become the norm in the Anglophone regions, must stop.
Unfortunately, nothing has changed on the ground since the start of talks between separatist leaders imprisoned in Kondengui, the Yaounde Central Prison, and the government authorities in Cameroon. Instead, there has been an upsurge in security incidents, targeting civilians.
CHRDA calls on the Government to investigate all the atrocities documented in this report, bring the perpetrators to justice and put an end to human rights violations and disrespect for the rule of law. The Government must protect, promote and fulfil human rights. Doing this will rekindle trust and collaboration between the rights bearers (civilians) and public authorities.
On 14 August 2020, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General spoke of the deteriorating human rights situation in Cameroon. He stated that the Secretary-General’s Office had seen recent reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in the country, and strongly condemn these atrocious acts of violence. He called on government authorities to swiftly and unequivocally conduct investigations into these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. He also called on non-state actors to respect international human rights and humanitarian law and refrain from attacks against the civilian population. Finally, he also called on the warring parties to embrace the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire as the world fights the Covid-19 pandemic. In conclusion, he reiterated the readiness of the UN to work with all stakeholders. They would do this to find a political solution to the crisis in the Anglophone regions of the country, through meaningful dialogue.
This report is based on research conducted in the NWR and SWR by CHRDA human rights monitoring and reporting officers. It includes the testimonies of victims and eyewitnesses, collected through interviews and written complaints forwarded to CHRDA by victims and concerned individuals. Documentary and audio-visual evidence, showing acts of violence committed by the military, were also received and analysed by CHRDA.
Article Source: https://www.chrda.org/human-rights-violations-committed-by-the-military-between-may-and-august-2020-in-the-north-west-nwr-and-southwest-swr-Regions-of-cameroon/
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