Ambazonia: Violence Soars After Govt Clampdown In Cameroon —Amnesty
Over 150,000 IDPs and over 20,000 refugees
According to report released by the West Africa chapter of Amnesty International, several villages have been burnt, while many more schools were attacked in Cameroon’s Anglophone Northwest and Southwest Regions regions known as Ambazonia.
The unrest is unfolding in the English-speaking regions once governed by colonial Britain that joined French-speaking Cameroon after it gained independence from France in 1960.
In a bizarre turn for the worse, the violence has taken an unprecedented dimension since late 2016 as violence and human rights violations escalate.
The disclosure was made in an Amnesty International reported titled “A Turn For The Worse: Violence And Human Rights Violations In Anglophone Cameroon”.
According to the report, “since late 2016, Cameroon’s Anglophone regions – whose grievances date back to the early 1960s – have endured turmoil and violence in what has become a human rights crisis.
“In October and November of 2016, protests and strikes were organized by groups including teachers, lawyers and students in opposition to what they viewed as the further marginalization of the Anglophone minority.
“Lawyers took to the streets to demand the translation into English of legal texts, and protest against the appointment of French-speaking judges unfamiliar with the Common Law system.
“Teachers went on strike to condemn the appointment of French speaking staff in schools and universities.
“Thousands of ordinary people, including students, joined these demonstrations to express solidarity and to air other grievances.
“Although largely – but not always – peaceful in nature, these initial protests were met with fierce and sustained repression from the Cameroonian authorities and security forces.
“The security forces arrested hundreds of people, including human rights defenders, journalists and activists.
“The authorities banned civil society organizations, suspended the internet and cut phone lines for about six months in 2017.
“Security forces were responsible for the killing of at least 10 peaceful protesters between October 2016 and February 2017.
“Anglophone activist groups responded using civil disobedience tactics, including school boycotts and “ghost town” protests.”
According to the report, the human rights violations committed by the Cameroonian security forces and authorities have also contributed to creating a pervasive climate of fear.
Some observers say it has led to a growing sense of alienation among communities in the anglophone regions.
Years of resentment at perceived discrimination sparked protests in October and November 2016.
The government responded with a clampdown, and in late 2017, the violence escalated further after radicals declared an independent state of Ambazonia.
The radicals launched an armed campaign even though the entity has not been recognised internationally.
Amnesty said it had conducted interviews with more than 150 victims of, or eyewitnesses to, violence committed by the security forces or separatists.
Among the incidents, it said, was “the complete destruction” of some village in the Southwest Region in December last year.
The villages were burned to the ground by the security forces after suspected separatists killed two gendarmes.