US-based rights group, Human Rights Watch has called on the United Nations Security Council and other international bodies to school Cameroon’s separatist fighters on the consequences of their actions.
In a release yesterday, HRW said separatist fighters or amba boys as they are known locally, kidnapped a doctor in the North West Region on February 27, among several other rights violations.
It quotes the doctor as saying the fighters asked for “… money to support their struggle for independence, to buy guns,” adding that “They told me not to tell what happened to anyone; otherwise, they would kill me and anyone in my family.”
“The doctor, the rights group says, was only let off the hook after paying the sum of 300,000 CFA [US $544] as ransom and spending 6 hours in captivity.
HRW stated that like the doctor, armed separatists have kidnapped hundreds of people, including students, clergy, political leaders, and humanitarian workers since 2017.
“This recent kidnapping occurred amidst a wave of renewed separatist violence over the past two months,” the group revelaed, adding that “on February 13, separatist fighters killed three tribal chiefs in Essoh Attah village, South-West Region, allegedly for refusing to hand over profits from their cocoa sales and for promoting education, according to media reports”.
Another atrocity documented by HRW was the killing of the principal of a high school in Eyumojock, South-West region. Allegedly perpetrated by separatists, they also “… wounded another principal from a high school in Tinto, South-West region, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and media reports”.
Separatists, through their actions, the group noted, “… hindered the delivery of humanitarian assistance and killed and tortured those who they suspect of collaborating with authorities and security forces”.
Security forces on their part, HRW added, are no better and have to maintain professionalism: “the United Nations Security Council and Cameroon’s international partners should make it clear to separatist leaders that there are consequences for these crimes, including through targeted sanctions, such as travel bans and asset freezes on those who bear responsibility for those committing the abuses,” HRW ended.
Since the crisis escalated into an armed conflict, thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions as separatists battle for an independent state, Ambazonia.