Today November 17, 2022, was a day like never before at GTHS Nkwen, Bamenda in the North West Region of Cameroon.
Students for the first time in several years, rose to denounce the hard hand of the soldiers stationed at the institution’s premises.
Talking to MMI, one of them said they are longing for freedom, which has been snatched from them for years: “… We need to feel free in our campus and not be tormented by those who we are supposed to be looking up to,” said one of them, (identity witheld for security reasons).
Bamenda: Military stationed in GTHS Nkwen turn against students as administration remains mute— Mimi Mefo Info (@MimiMefoInfo) November 17, 2022
“Violence has erupted at GTHS Nkwen. Soldiers are beating and harassing students and the principal is saying nothing,” a student at GTHS told MMI
Video below 👇🏾 https://t.co/Jp7HzC4A0j pic.twitter.com/GuBGE9MJ5o
Soldiers have been stationed in public schools to restore peace and order in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions where a faction of the population has been fighting for an independent state called ‘Ambazonia’ since 2016.
The pro-separatist fighters in 2017 advocated for school boycot, as one of the strategies to pressure the Biya regime and the international community, to address their plight — ranging from marginalisation, bridge of constitution.
The Yaounde government has remained adamant, urging kids to go to school — promising adequate security on campuses.
Why Today’s protest?
But on Thursday November 17, students at the Government Technical High School (GTHS) Nkwen, Bamenda said they have “had enough military excesses.”
They staged a protest after a student who was hit by a soldier passed out. Today’s brutality “is to prove that soldiers are bent on militarising them,” admitted the students.
One of them, the student said, “… is Mr Clovis … he is so arrogant toward students.”
In addition to the violence, students say cash transactions have now become a norm and a form of punishment.
“Soldiers will beat us up if we are unkempt, if a student is found with dirty nails or comes late, normally, school officials or discipline masters should restore order and discipline. Soldiers beat us up with brutality,” explained one of the students.
“We were told to bring phones to school for security purposes and not use them, even though I know students do not obey that,” revealed a student.
The instructions given to them, he says, were that if a student is caught using the phone in class, it would be collected and be given to them at the end of the term.
However, “… they seek money before the phone is refunded and it is the same thing the policemen do at GTHS Nkwen.”
“… All we need is to have our rights back in that school I know students at times are funny but this is not the first time but we are all keeping quiet,” he cries out.
More security forces were deployed to disperse the irate students. It remains unclear if punishment awaits the protesters.
Military presence at GTHS Nkwen campus sparks protest. Students say they have had enough of their excesses, as some have been acting like discipline masters. "We hoped their presence would protect us, but they torture us daily,"#Bamenda#Cameroon#militarybrutality pic.twitter.com/vilGZPHLX1— Mimi Mefo Info (@MimiMefoInfo) November 17, 2022
Students and pupils continue to be victims of security forces and armed militias in the Anglophone regions.
Similar complaints have been heard from university students in the town of Buea and Bambili who say the forces of law and order size chances to brutalise them and conduct unpermitted searches and arrests.
(C) Mimi Mefo Info