Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) - "Unfounded accusations". This is how Cameroon’s Minister of Communication, Issa Bakary Tchiroma considered the reports of the massacres of demonstrators in the North west and South West Anglophone regions, perpetrated by the army on Sunday, October 1, when in the country the independence of Ambazonia was symbolically proclaimed, the name given to the two regions by the secessionist movement (see Fides 3/10/2017).
Among those who denounced the violence are the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province (BAPEC), who in a statement on October 4, sent to Fides, stigmatize "the various forms of violence and atrocities that have devastated part of the cities and villages of the North West and South West regions, which coincide with the territory of the ecclesiastical province of Bamenda, resulting in the loss of human lives".
The Bishops denounce: "our Christians were pursued into their houses – some arrested, some maimed and some, including defenceless teenagers and elderly persons, were simply shot to death, some from helicopters".
Expressing pain "for the victims and for the suffering of the wounded and those who have lost property due to ransacking and fires, and for those who are in pain for their loved ones who have disappeared or have been kidnapped", the Bishops denounce "the atmosphere of war" that is in the area. "On Sunday, 1st October 2017, some Priests and some members of Christ's Lay Faithful were prevented by the heavy military presence on their streets from going to church and so they failed to exercise their constitutional right of freedom of worship. In some areas, we noted with disgust that some Christians were teargassed as they came out of Mass!", the statement said.
"We also note, with embarrassment and shame, that the Minister of Communication has praised the professionalism of the Armed Forces, in total disregard of the fact that some of the heinous acts of brutality and barbarism meted out to the populations were by some members of the same Armed Forces. Either the Minister of Communication was not adequately informed or he was misleading the national and international communities", the Bishops say.
"The enthronement of lies, no matter from which side in our country, does not help in nation building. It rather destroys the efforts of honest and God-fearing Cameroonians who truly seek to be free and responsible. Today, at least in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, there is a huge gap of credibility between the population, those calling for restoration and the administration". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 12/10/2017)