Human Rights Watch has once more come out in full criticism of the Cameroon Government’s handling of the crisis in the Anglophone regions. It has condemned the military violence that has been recurrent in the two regions in recent times.
Human Rights Watch condemned especially the events of November 12, in Bamenda when 8-year-old Tataw Brandy was shot to death by a police officer. The aftermath of that incident was a protest from the population, which was violently repressed by the forces of law and order.
HRW in their latest report of the incident revealed that 7 people were injured as a result of the violent repression by Government forces. A statement from senior Africa Researcher at Human Rights Watch Illaria Allegrozi said “The army’s use of live ammunition on people protesting the death of a child raises a disturbing specter of a trigger-happy security force…”
The authorities, according to her, “must promptly investigate the use of force by soldiers during protests, and to send a strong message to their security forces that abuses will not go unpunished.”
The report from HRW confirms that the organization spoke to at least 15 people to arrive at their conclusions. Amongst them were 3 protesters, one man who was wounded by soldiers’ fire, a relative of Tataw, two medical staff who treated six wounded protesters, and eight other Bamenda residents, including three who saw Tataw’s dead body.
The organization also notes that the military had been purposely released on the protesters with a mission of causing harm according to one of the interviewees. He said, “They fired indiscriminately at the crowd wounding several of us.”
It was also claimed according to the report, that a police agent had alleged that the crowd had been infiltrated by Ambazonian fighters, though could not be independently verified.
Some injured protesters have admitted to being afraid of visiting hospitals to treat their injuries. One of the injured protesters told the HRW that he had to turn to a traditional doctor to heal his wounds. “I was too scared to go to the hospital so a traditional doctor in my neighborhood treated me. I am in hiding now. If the security forces find me, they’ll arrest me. Other injured men are also in hiding.” He revealed.
Residents in Buea and Bamenda have admitted to the Human Rights Watch that they have a pervasive fear of security forces’ checkpoints, saying that gendarmes, policemen, and soldiers harass drivers and passengers asking for bribes, and often use force during routine road operations. This has led to distrust between the population and government forces, often leading to friction between them, which has over time led to several scandals like that of Buea with the death of Enondiale Carolaise and recently in Bamenda.