AFRICA/CAMEROON - New clashes in the English-speaking regions: law enforcement agencies accused by NGOs

Tuesday, 3 October 2017 violence  

Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) - 17 people were killed in the clashes with the security forces in the English-speaking region of Cameroon on Sunday 1 October (see Fides 2/10/2017) according to Amnesty International, which calls for the opening of an international inquiry. Law enforcement fired on crowds in several cities such as Bamenda, Ndop Kumbo (in the northwest), and Kumba (in the southwest).
On 1 October, the Independence of Ambazonia was symbolically proclaimed, by its president, Sisiku Ayuk. Secessionists have apparently composed a national anthem, stamped passports and coined a national currency.
The violent reaction of law enforcement, which imposed a curfew and isolated English-speaking areas, suggests that the crisis has worsened and that there is a threat of civil war.
Cameroon is now accused of violating human rights by two of the most important international humanitarian organizations. By the end of September, the Cameroonian army had been accused by Human Rights Watch (HRW) of using "extreme physical violence" to expel at least 100,000 Nigerian refugees who had been welcomed in the northeast of Cameroon to escape Boko Haram. According to HRW, since 1979, the army in Cameroon has committed torture and violence of all kinds to force refugees to return to Nigeria despite the agreement signed by the authorities of Yaoundé with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure that the return of the refugees would take place on a voluntary basis.
On a domestic political level, the Country has been led since November 1982 by President Paul Biya. The lack of a change in power in these years has accentuated the authoritarian character of the State and the social tensions of the secessionists of the two English-speaking provinces. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 3/10/2017)