In a press release few hours to the start of the UN Security Council meeting on the Human Rights situation in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, Human Rights Watch unfold atrocities committed on the people of the English speaking regions by the Cameroonian army and Restoration forces.
In a move qualified by the NGO as a timely step to stimulate international efforts to address the human right crisis, Human Rights watch ask members of the UN Security Council to call the Government of Cameroon to end abuses against civilians in English Speaking areas and to hold those responsible.
They reiterated to the UN Security Council that the deadly violence in the English speaking regions have left 1,800 people dead and forced half a million away from their homes, among whom are disabled and elderly people.
Human Rights Watch highlighted to the UN Security Council that government forces in Cameroon have killed many civilians, burned hundreds of homes, and used torture and incommunicado detention with almost impunity.
Human Rights watch cited among other cases, the killing of a 72-year-old woman by Cameroonian soldiers in April 19 and the burning of houses, like one in Kikaikilaki in Bui Division, North West Region.
“Everyone fled, but my mother was too old to run. As she was near the window, a bullet went through and hit her on the right side of the chest. She died on the way to the hospital.”
“Security Council members should call on the government of Cameroon and leaders of armed separatist groups to end abuses against civilians in the Anglophone regions and hold those responsible for abuse accountable,” Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch said.
“This meeting is an opportunity to remind abusers that the world is watching.” he added.
Human Right Watch said the deadlock and escalating conflict has brought untold hardship on the civilian population.
“Government forces have killed scores of civilians, torched hundreds of homes, and used torture and incommunicado detention with near total impunity. Armed separatists have assaulted and kidnapped dozens of people, including students and teachers, amid increasing attacks and growing calls for secession of the North-West and South-West regions.
Since late April, Human Rights Watch has documented more abuses, including killings and burning of homes”.
The international NGO also highlighted atrocities committed by pro independence fighters in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon.
“On April 23, armed separatists killed Adam Assana, a gendarme, in Muyuka, South-West region. His body was found decapitated and dismembered the following day along the Muyuka-Kumba road….He was not on duty. His car was stopped at an ‘Amba’ checkpoint. When he was identified as a gendarme, he was kidnapped and killed. The separatists had pierced his mouth with a wooden stick.” a source narrated to HRW.
On April 25, violence erupted in Bamenda, North-West region, after armed separatists dropped a human head, allegedly belonging to a soldier, at the Hospital Roundabout. Security forces responded by shooting along Commercial Avenue, forcing people to flee. A social worker from Bamenda told Human Rights Watch:
“We heard gunshots by the soldiers from all angles. We had to lie on the floor for hours.” Accounts from a dozen residents and videos show that soldiers broke into deserted shops.
In order to address the current crisis, the Human Right Watch is mounting pressure on the UN Security Council meeting today for the first time on the matter.
“the UN Security Council should make Cameroon a formal item on its agenda and press authorities to investigate members of the security forces alleged to have carried out killings and destruction of property and prosecute those responsible. It should also publicly announce to armed separatist groups that their leaders will be held responsible for serious crimes committed by their fighters.
The council should consider imposing targeted sanctions against high-level people from both sides who bear responsibility for serious abuses”. It said.
The Cameroon government denied a Human Rights Watch researcher entry to the country on April 12, two days after Human Rights Watch published a short report on a deadly attack by soldiers, gendarmes, and members of the Rapid Intervention Battalion on a village in the North-West region. Bachelet visited Cameroon last week and raised the lack of access for both international and national human rights activists and humanitarian agencies.
“Cameroon’s move to block a human rights researcher and observers shows its determination to conceal its brutality,” Mudge said. “The UN Security Council should encourage the country to allow access to international human rights organizations and cooperate with them.” Human Right Watch concluded.
Mimi Mefo Info