Troops and attack helicopters opened fire on protesters at the height of separatist rallies in English-speaking areas of Cameroon over the weekend, killing and wounding people, witnesses and rights groups said.
The army dismissed the reports from sources in five towns as “completely false” and said helicopters had only been used for surveillance.
Any use of air attacks would mark a major escallation in a government crackdown on separatist protests that have been rumbling in Anglophone districts of the central African oil producer for almost a year.
Thousands took to the streets in towns across the Northwest and Southwest regions on Sunday, Oct. 1, calling for independence from the country’s French-speaking majority.
Rights groups said they started to collect reports on ensuing violence in the areas bordering Nigeria as the week progressed.
Eight people in the towns of Bamenda, Buea, Ndu, Tombel and Kumbo told Reuters that police and soldiers moved in to stop the protests and in some areas, low-flying attack helicopters fired tear gas and live rounds on the crowds.
Etienne Ndage, a 31-year-old journalist for Savannah Frontier Radio in the northwest tea-plantation town of Ndu said he saw helicopters firing at around 1 pm local time, killing two protesters as a 1,000-strong march gained momentum.
“They were firing like in a war film,” he told Reuters.
Hilary Manjong, private secretary to a local Member of Parliament in Ndu, said witnesses had shared similar accounts with him.
Army spokesman Didier Badjeck dismissed the accounts. “Reports that the helicopters fired on protestors is completely false. The helicopters were only conducting surveillance,” he said.
The government earlier this week said about 10 people had died on Sunday including five in a prison fire that may not have been linked to the protests.
The governor of Southwest region, Bernard Okalia Bilai, told the Cameroon Tribune newspaper in an article published on Tuesday that protesters had ambushed soldiers in Kumba, forcing them to open fire in self defence.
Amnesty International told Reuters on Thursday that more than 20 people were killed between Oct. 1 and 2.
“THE INNOCENT ONES”
Demonstrations began nearly a year ago when Anglophone lawyers and teachers protested against having to work in French, saying it showed the wider marginalisation of the English-speaking minority.
The protests gained support and have increasingly called for Cameroon’s five million English speakers to get their own country.
The rallies have also have become a lightning rod for opposition to President Paul Biya’s 35-year rule.
Campaigners called more protests on Sunday, the anniversary of Anglophone Cameroon’s independence from Britain.
In the southwest town of Tombel, a resident who spoke on condition of anonymity told Reuters that a military helicopter came so low over the town centre that the wind gusts threw a man off his motorbike.
First the helicopter fired teargas to disperse the crowd, then it opened fire, the resident said. “Normally they fire rubber bullets, but I could tell from the sound that these were real,” they added.
Outside Buea, police on the ground and a helicopter opened fire on protestors who had run into the bush to bypass a military checkpoint, said Louis Anuchem, a 35-year-old taxi driver from Buea.
“The helicopter came close to the ground,” he added. “We heard the gunshots and the bullets coming through the trees,” he told Reuters.
After the demonstrations police went door-to-door in some towns, rounding up young men and women, residents said.
“Soldiers came to our neighbourhood and broke into homes and carried boys away,” said Lanya Joel, a 21-year-old Kumba resident. “I am scared and will be away until it’s all over.”
Rights group the Southern Cameroon’s Public Affairs Committee said in a report that a 12 year-old girl was shot by security forces from a helicopter in the town of Kumbo.
The Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference of Anglophone Christian Bishops said in a statement this week that is was disturbed by reports that “some of our Christians were ... arrested, some maimed, and some were simply shot to death, some from helicopters.”
Helene Mekem said her son was shot dead by security forces outside his home in Kumba on Sunday, even though he was not involved in the protests.
BAMENDA PROVINCIAL EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE [BAPEC]
P.O. BOX 82, BAMENDA
NORTH WEST REGION
C A M E R O O N
4th October 2017
*DECLARATION OF THE BISHOPS OF THE BAMENDA PROVINCIAL EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE (BAPEC) FOLLOWING THE MASSIVE DEMONSTRATIONS AND THE CURFEW IMPOSED ON THE NORTH WEST AND SOUTH WEST REGIONS FROM FRIDAY, 29TH SEPTEMBER TO MONDAY, 2ND OCTOBER 2017*
_“If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace!” (Lk. 19:42)_
Since Friday, 22nd September 2017, and particularly from midnight on Friday, 29th September to midnight on Monday, 2nd October 2017, the people of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, which regions are coterminous with the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda, have gone through a very challenging and crucial period. Although the danger is not yet over, we, the Bishops of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPEC), consider it our bounded and God-given duty to make this declaration at this point in time to share with our brothers and sisters and people of good will what we have gone through up till now and possibly to contribute to the prevention of the worse that may still come if our voice, which is that of the voiceless, and similar other well-intentioned voices are not heeded by the competent authorities.
“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loudly lamenting: it was Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they were no more.” (Mt. 2:18; cf. Jer. 31:15). This lamentation of the Prophet Jeremiah is once more a reality as it was with the brutal murder of the Holy Innocents in the place of the Infant Jesus. From Bota in Fako to Ako in Donga Mantung, from Bakassi in Ndian to Menji in Lebialem, families are weeping for their children, for they are no more. Since Friday, 29th September 2017, there have been various forms of violence and atrocities that have bedevilled most towns and villages of the North West and South West Regions, which coincide with the territory of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province, resulting to even the supreme loss of human lives. The groans from the dying and shrieks of the wounded make our hearts bleed from pain. The sighs of those who have lost property through looting or arson, the pain of anxiety inflicted on families and friends of those abducted or missing, the trauma caused on the young and the old by the fright from the warlike atmosphere of last weekend in particular have left another heap of painful memories in our minds and hearts. We want, in the first place, to express our profound grief and sympathies to those families who in the recent crisis have lost their dear ones. We pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died. May the Risen Lord welcome them into his Kingdom. We express our solidarity with those who have sustained injuries and those suffering in any way, those arrested and incarcerated, and the families that have been separated from their loved ones or displaced. May the Crucified Lord, with whom they are now hanging on the Cross, be their consolation.
In the Gospel of Luke (19:41-42) we are told that when Jesus drew near to the city of Jerusalem he shed tears over it and said: “If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace!” Following the initial peaceful demonstration of Lawyers of the Common Law, the sit-down strike of the Teachers' Trade Unions in November 2016, on 6th December 2016, we, the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province, in an Appeal concerning the Sit-down Strike Action Called by the Teachers' Trade Unions of the English-Speaking Subsystem of Education, pointed out that it is important to respect the conventions that bind us together as a people and that the bicultural nature of Cameroon, which enriches our diversity, should be a treasured commodity that guides our interaction with each other as children of the same fatherland. We also condemned in very unequivocal terms the violence perpetuated by some groups of young people on the one hand and the acts of brutality, torture, inhuman and unjustified treatment meted out to some of our youths by the Forces of Law and Order on the other hand. We called on the Government to restrain such barbaric action of the Forces of Law and Order and to bring to justice those of them who had been irresponsible, so that peace may reign.
Unfortunately, the Government did not heed our appeal, but the CPDM Ruling Party went on to organise a so-called ‘Peace March', which provoked the resistance of most of the people and the subsequent reaction of the Forces of Law and Order that led to further violence on 8th December 2016. Violence begets violence! The consequent result of the violence on that day was the shooting of unarmed youths by the Forces of Law and Order, a black Thursday indeed in Bamenda! Despite the call of the Archbishop of Bamenda for the demilitarisation of Bamenda Town and the rest of the towns of the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, the military presence in the area was rather increased and many more persons were arrested and ferried to Yaoundé.
In the meantime, we asked in writing to meet with the Head of State to explain to him the situation on the ground in the two regions as we saw and lived it and to present to him a Memorandum, which we had written on 22nd December 2016 about the Anglophone Problem. In the Memorandum, we gave the historical background of the Anglophone Problem, articulated the Problem in five points, gave various instances in which the Problem is manifested and proposed a way forward to solve the socio-political impasse in the North West and South West Regions. The requested audience was never granted. Till today, there has been no official response to the Memorandum. Rather, we have been erroneously accused of being the invisible hand supporting the activists and of keeping the schools closed as it is evidenced by the fact that we were dragged to court for treason, because we did not tell the parents to bring their children back to school and for other related accusations.
Friday, 22nd September 2017, was a very significant turning point. Following weeks of propaganda and a call by different groups and persons, most of whom have taken refuge outside the country and who are advocating for the restoration of the independence of West Cameroon, a huge population of men, women, youths, old and young, and even children turned out on the streets of many towns and villages of the North West and South West Regions to demonstrate peacefully and express their right to self-determination. This peaceful march of mostly innocent citizens, carrying peace plants and shouting “No violence! No violence!” and defying the Forces of Law and Order, should have sent home to the authorities a message of the fact that it was not just a handful of people outside the country calling for this restoration. While some of the Forces of Law and Order, reading the signs of the times, did not react violently, others instead of using their guns to protect citizens, shot live bullets at unarmed civilians, killing some and maiming others. Within the same period, there has been a harassing chase of Anglophones by the Forces of Law and Order even outside the territory under consideration, so much so that many of them do not feel free anymore throughout the national territory of Cameroon.
The climax came when, in an attempt to prevent the programme of the restoration of independence on 1st October 2017 by the leaders of these groups, the Government declared a curfew in the North West and South West Regions from midnight on Friday, 29th September to midnight on Monday, 2nd October 2017. This was in fact authorized by the Senate and Parliament in their Joint Communiqué of 26th September 2017. The communiqués of the Governors of the North West and South West Regions forbade movement from one division to another, public gatherings and assemblies of more than four (04) persons in their respective territories from 29th September to 2nd October. In some places, like Buea and Mamfe, Sunday Mass was anticipated on Saturday in the evening. However, the Archbishop of Bamenda, in consultation with the Governor of the North West Region, wrote to inform the Archdiocesan Community that the Governor's prohibition on public gatherings and assemblies of more than four persons did not include religious services. The letter of the Archbishop, which was endorsed by the Secretary General in the Governor's Office on the 30th of September 2017, repeated the call he and the other Bishops have made several times, and asked the faithful to pray for peace and tranquillity especially in the Church Province of Bamenda.
On Sunday, 1st October 2017, some Priests and some members of Christ's Lay Faithful were prevented by the heavy military presence on their streets from going to church and so they failed to exercise their constitutional right of freedom of worship. In some areas, we noted with disgust that some Christians were teargassed as they came out of Mass! This move, by whosoever instructed, created a lot of confusion and chaos, especially as the faithful believed that the Archbishop's letter, calling for prayers for peace and tranquillity and which had been endorsed by the Governor of the North West Region, was sufficient authorization for Sunday worship to go on as normal, despite the political tension. We, the Bishops of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference, are sad and disturbed, having learned that some of our Christians were pursued into their houses – some arrested, some maimed and some (including defenceless teenagers and elderly persons) were simply shot to death, some from helicopters. Elsewhere in the world, the Forces of Law and Order protect demonstrating citizens. In our country, peaceful demonstrations, except perhaps those organized by the ruling party, seem to be an opportune moment for our Armed Forces to demonstrate their shooting prowess both from the ground and from the air on unarmed and helpless civilians.
We also note, with embarrassment and shame, that the Minister of Communication has praised the professionalism of the Armed Forces, in total disregard of the fact that some of the heinous acts of brutality and barbarism meted out to the populations were by some members of the same Armed Forces. Either the Minister of Communication was not adequately informed or he was misleading the national and international communities. The enthronement of lies, no matter from which side in our country, does not help in nation building. It rather destroys the efforts of honest and God-fearing Cameroonians who truly seek to be free and responsible, not only for themselves but also for others and for their environment. Today, at least in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, there is a huge gap of credibility between the population, those calling for restoration and the administration.
We condemn in the strongest terms possible the barbarism and the irresponsible use of firearms against unarmed civilians by the Forces of Law and Order, even if they are provoked. The divine injunction: “Thou shalt not kill!” remains valid even in such circumstances. We call on the Head of State of the Republic of Cameroon, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, to stop the bloodbath and genocide that has skilfully been initiated in the North West and South West Regions. Mr. Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation, said that “a genocide begins with the killing of one man – not for what he had done – but for who he is”. The statement by the Minister of Communications, the Spokesperson for the Government, that some Anglophone Cameroonians are “terrorists” is a subtle call for what can be described as “ethnic cleansing” or a genocide as all Anglophone Cameroonians are now considered as ‘terrorists' and as such they qualify for elimination, just because they are Anglophones! We need to stop the imminent genocide! We, as a nation, need a change of orientation to forestall any further deterioration of the situation in the North West and South West Regions. We call on all stakeholders to exercise restraint, develop a sense of respect for the truth and for human dignity and return to an inclusive and facilitated dialogue that will begin a process of national healing and reconciliation.
The massive turnout of people for the demonstrations on Friday, 22nd September 2017, and on Sunday, 1st October 2017, has, among other things, the following implications:
The Anglophone Problem is now truly one that touches the hearts of very many people in all villages, towns and cities of the North West and South West Regions.
It is no longer just a problem of “a few disgruntled Anglophones at home and in the diaspora”, as some people have tried to play it down.
It is no longer just a problem of lawyers and teachers, as it seemed to be from the outset last year.
At the moment, the Anglophone Problem can no longer be taken lightly or ignored. It needs urgent attention, to avoid the growing genocide. People have lost loved ones to brutal killings and do not even know where some of their corpses are now. Every individual who is killed increases the number of aggrieved persons and families, resentment and anger, which are very difficult to address.
The heart of the matter is the ongoing Anglophone Problem which the Government has persistently failed to address adequately, resulting in deep and mounting resentment and bitterness among the population. Cosmetic changes which benefit only a few are not enough. The delay in addressing the problem has distanced many citizens of these two Regions from the rest of the country. The demonstrations of Friday, 22nd September 2017, across the two Regions should have opened the eyes of many, including the Government, to the scale of the problem. While the demonstrations were largely peaceful, there were a few incidents, provoked by either side that led to some deaths. We condemn all acts of violence by any one.
We vehemently condemn the intoxication and exploitation of the masses by some of the members of the restoration group. Some of them had told the populations to march into government offices and take back their country. They were to arrest any civil administrators, who had not abdicated, and take them to the palaces of Fons and Chiefs. This was irrational and not feasible. Sadly, the result of such an action has been the torture, arrest and killing of so many people. No matter what diplomatic gains have been made at the international level, right reason and international law informs us that this is not his nations gain independence.
We equally denounce the deception and lies by the official and some private media. The lack of adequate reporting of the reality on the ground only shows that the Government is not prepared to address the problem. It is a fact that there was heavy militarization of the same regions leading up to 1st October 2017. This was followed by threats on the official media from some government officials that anyone who came out to demonstrate on 1st October 2017, would face the law in its full force. Military men and women and machinery were positioned in the towns, cities and even villages of the Regions. This was simply intimidation. Military helicopters were also seen flying over the territory. Although the curfew did not include religious worship, many clergy and Christians were prevented from going to church. In some cases, Christians were caught and beaten up. In Mbve in the Diocese of Kumbo, tear gas was thrown at Christians as soon as they left the church. In Momo Division in the Archdiocese of Bamenda, the Senior Divisional Officer sent out a communiqué, forbidding religious worship, and, by so doing, contradicting the order of the Governor.
Government gave firm instructions through the Communiqués of the Governors and Senior Divisional Officers asking people to stay at home from 29th September to 2nd October. The majority of the people, who stayed at home, were quickly visited by the Forces of Law and Order, who intimidated them, arrested some, tortured some, and took some away to where we do not know. In Buea, Kumba, Mamfe, Kumbo and Bamenda, this trend of activity was rampant. In Bamesing, in the Archdiocese of Bamenda, some young men were caught and shot on the legs. There are gruesome pictures of the acts of violence committed against unarmed and innocent civilians during the period. Some people who were killed were carried away and it is not known where their bodies were taken to. The bodies of the prisoners who were shot dead as they tried to escape from Kumbo Prison, after having been taken to Shisong Hospital, were hurriedly retrieved by the soldiers. No one knows where their mortal remains are now.
It is reported that truckloads of people arrested have been driven down to Yaoundé. This adds to those arrested earlier during the year whose release the populations have been requesting from the Government. This only makes a bad situation worse. Citizens of these two Regions have been branded as terrorists and are being treated as such. It is hard to believe that the hundreds of thousands of children, men and women, who came out to demonstrate peacefully on 22nd September and on 1st October 2017 are all terrorists. We shall soon all be considered terrorists! Anglophones living in Francophone Cameroon are now targets. The military have broken into some of their homes, looted and arrested people. The mere fact of being an Anglophone now looks like a crime in itself!
The very fact that the Presidents of the Senate and of the National Assembly organized a rally at the Reunification Monument in Yaoundé on the same 1st October 2017 under the pretext of celebrating National Unity, when the military was intimidating, torturing, arresting and killing people in the North West and South West Regions, can be considered a mockery of the people of the North West and South West Regions, who were literally under siege and brutality for daring to air the same concerns. This is an indication that the Government is insensitive to their problems and welfare and that they do not belong. Schools are not functioning as they should and businesses have been grounded in these Regions. The economy is badly hit by this crisis and things are likely to get worse.
Almost exactly 25 years ago, on 29th November 1992, the late Archbishop of Bamenda, Most Rev. Paul Verdzekov, wrote a message to the Christians condemning torture, which had been rampant during the State of Emergency imposed on the North West Province. We would like to paraphrase and make our own what he said at that time because it is very relevant to us today in a similar context of socio-political crisis and curfew, imposed this time in both the North West and South West Regions. We congratulate publicly those police officers, gendarmes and soldiers, who have acknowledged the fact that harassment, wanton arrests, destruction of houses and property (cars, motorbikes, farms, estates, etc.), ransacking of others as well as looting, arson, torture, brutalizing, and killing are abominable crimes and have consequently refused to participate in or carry out such acts. Torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, was totally unheard of in the Cameroons under the United Kingdom Trusteeship. It was inconceivable in the British Cameroons for a police officer to slap anyone, let alone torture or harass people. We pray and hope that the priceless heritage of respect for the human person, which prevailed in the British Cameroons before 1961, may soon be recovered and shared among the people of this nation. Even though few, such uniformed men and women are the honour of the Forces of Law and Order and they bear witness to the fact that “one must never confuse error with the one who errs … The person who errs is always and above all a human being, and he must always be regarded and treated in accordance with that lofty dignity” (Pacem in Terris, no. 54).
To those administrative authorities, gendarmes, police officers and soldiers who, unfortunately, accept to inflict torture and other forms of cruel, sadistic and degrading treatment on human beings, we respectfully and fraternally propose the following points for deep reflection. First, if you are a believer in God, remember that “whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on the body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity … all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They do not only poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than to those who suffer the injuries. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 27). The practice of these ills makes you more of a brute beast than a human person. Second, these practices which you indulge in make you one of the worst subversive and destabilizing elements working against the State and the Nation. The State of Cameroon desires to be recognized by national and international public opinion as one which exists and operates under the Rule of Law. When you practice these ills, you subvert and undermine the moral authority of the State, you erode and you destroy the credibility of its claim to be recognized, respected, and held in high esteem as a State which operates under the Rule of Law. Every time you force people to roll and to wallow in mud for your ‘amusement', you drag the name of the country and its Government into mud and make the country a pariah among the nations. Third, remember that when you accept to inflict such pain upon others, merely because you have been ordered to do so by your superior officer, you make yourself a mere robot and not a responsible person. Remember that you have a personal conscience which tells you that these practices are abominable evils and should be avoided. You know it and that is why you carry out most of these practices in a secret torture chamber, away from the public eye. Remember, too, that even if the State does not punish you for these crimes, the lame excuse that you were only carrying out orders will not help you before God. As a human being endowed with reason and personal freedom, God holds you responsible and accountable for all your actions, including these crimes.
Finally, let every member of the Administration, the Forces of Law and Order remember that this nation has freely committed itself to adhere to the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Convention stipulates, among other things, that “exceptional circumstances such as a state of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” The Convention says furthermore, “that an order given by a Superior Officer or some other public Authority cannot be invoked as a justification of torture.” Consequently, those Administrative Authorities and the Forces of Law and Order who took advantage of recent happenings in the North West and South West Regions to commit these and similar crimes are making a mockery of this Convention and thereby bringing shame and contempt on the name of the country. “So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets” (Mt. 7:12).
Mindful of the mandate of the Church from her Divine Founder to go out and teach all nations (cf. Mt. 28:19), we have insisted on the fact that since “all men of whatever race, condition or age, in virtue of their dignity as human persons, have an inalienable right to education” (Gravissimum Educationis, n. 1), all children of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon should be given the opportunity to continue formal education. The Church believes that the school as a place of learning should always remain open, no matter what problems the people are undergoing. The reason is that learning is absolutely essential for the better mastery and resolution of the same problems. It is precisely because such problems can take years to resolve, the best way for children to be involved in the struggle is by being in school, by studying. Many are aware of this, and have sent their children to other regions of the country and even abroad, so that they may continue their education. However, the vast majority of people are unable to send their children elsewhere, which is why we, the Bishops of BAPEC, urge and encourage everyone to stand by all the schools in our two Regions so that our children may not be left behind through our own fault.
We once more call on the Government to release all those arrested in connection with this crisis. No meaningful dialogue can take place while those people remain in prison. All those killed during this curfew and the whole crisis, whose bodies have not been presented to their families, should be accounted for and their bodies returned to their families. The two Regions should be demilitarized as soon as possible and all forms of threats and intimidation on individuals and groups living in any part of the country should cease. All forms of manipulation and false propaganda especially through the media should stop. The Church advocates responsible journalism and the right use of the media. Irresponsible and misleading propaganda by individuals, groups or the State is unacceptable. We condemn all forms of threats, intimidation, wanton arrests, torture, and killings in the strongest terms.
We call for honest and meaningful dialogue with the right people to determine the nature and form of the state to be undertaken as soon as possible. We must refrain from divisive and poisonous behaviour and language. Utterances that are demeaning, insulting, or derogatory should be discouraged. As St. James says, the tongue must not set fire to the forest (cf. James 3:5). We call on all Christians to intensify their prayers for meaningful dialogue and for peace.
We call on all our families, Small Christian Communities and parish communities to organise the praying of the Rosary this month of October for peace in Cameroon. We pray that Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles, Principal Patroness of Cameroon, may intercede for us and for the departed martyrs of the Anglophone Struggle. Let us pray for a true change of heart, so that as a reconciled people we may build a country wherein truth, justice, reconciliation and peace reign.
We declare Saturday, 14th October 2017, a Day of Mourning in our Ecclesiastical Province, to be marked by the celebration of Requiem Masses in all our parishes for the repose of the souls of all those who have died because of the present socio-political crisis. We call on everybody to say the following Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, following the Prayer after Communion at every Mass until we get a solution to the problem.
*PRAYER OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI FOR PEACE*
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:where there is hatred, let me sow love;where there is injury, pardon;where there is doubt, faith;where there is despair, hope;where there is darkness, light;where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seekto be consoled as to console,to be understood as to understand,to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Given in Bamenda,
This Wednesday, 4th October 2017,
Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi.
*+ George Nkuo*
Bishop of Kumbo
President of BAPEC
*+ Andrew Nkea*
Bishop of Mamfe
Vice-President of BAPEC
*+ Cornelius Esua*
Archbishop of Bamenda
*+ Immanuel Bushu*
Bishop of Buea
*+ Agapitus Nfon*
Bishop of Kumba
*+ Michael Bibi*
Auxiliary Bishop of Bamenda
Addis Ababa, 04 October 2017: The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, is deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon.
The Chairperson expresses condolences to all affected persons and families and calls on all stakeholders to exercise restraint in their pronouncements and to refrain from further acts of violence.
The Chairperson of the Commission reiterates the African Union’s commitment to support the efforts of the government and people of Cameroon towards a peaceful settlement of the crisis through inclusive and meaningful dialogue and national reconciliation.
The Chairperson of the Commission reaffirms the commitment of the African Union to promote peace and stability in Cameroon, in line with its relevant instruments that consecrates the principle of the intangibility of African Borders as they existed at Independence and other relevant AU instruments.
I know that God's will cannot lead you to where his grace cannot sustain you.
Our God is the perfect model for time consciousness, reason why we say God's time is the best.
The Holy Book tells us that "God has set the time for everything under the sun..." In common parlance we say, "banana wey e get for ripe must ripe, no matter how you cover am." Yes, what will be, will be.
Human beings cannot force-fulfill God's plan. It takes patience to see the fulfilment of the Lord. He is not also a God of chaos! He is a God of order and decency!
God's time isn't "chronos" time. God's time is "Kairos" time - the right time or appointed time.
Patience is the keyword to those who wait on God. To wait with patience is not to sit idle in the land of "Lotus eaters" listening to the sweet melodies of the "Sirens" until death sweeps you away. Not at all! The farmer waits with patience to harvest the crops he cultivated. While waiting he ensures that weeds do not overrun the crops.
While we wait with patience, tough times and rough days fall on us. That shouldn't lead us to murmurings and being judgmental of one another.
The prophets of old and the legendary Job are our models of patience.
No matter the travails that assail us now, "the Lord is very compassionate and of tender mercy."
He will not abandon us in midstream!
In all these, let us not join the bandwagon of liers who oppress and kill us and add to their evils by covering up with blatant lies! "Let your yes be yes and let your no be no; so that you do not fall under God's judgment!(Jam. 5:7-12).
Be patient and you will be rewarded because God is compassionate and of tender mercy!
Have a blessed weekend! Peace be with you!
The October 1 demonstrations have left indelible scars in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. Over 100 people are feared dead following the shooting of demonstrators with live bullets, as about 10 corpses were fished out of the bushes in Buea on October 2.
From Donga Mantung to Bui, through Mezam to Manyu, Ndian, Kupe-Muanengumba, Lebialem to Fako, scores of corpses of people cut-down by bullets from the guns of the forces of law and order littered the streets. All the streets and neighbourhoods in the former West Cameroon’s political capital were heavily militarised.
Show Down In Buea
Buea woke up on Sunday to a rather calm atmosphere. But at about 9.00am, Mutengene mobilised and started marching to Buea to declare what they termed the “Independence of the Ambazonian Republic” and consequently hoist the Ambazonian flag. The population was stopped by a regiment of security forces. There were sporadic scuffles between the soldiers and the demonstrators.
The forces of law and order succeeded to block the main road into Buea, but the resolute demonstrators diverted into the bush and converged on Mile 16.
The number of demonstrators was further swelled by the population of Mile 16, which has been a volatile neighbourhood in Buea, since the escalation of the Anglophone Crisis. As the troops were trying to quell the combined population of Mutengene and Mile 16, denizens of Muea and Ekona neighbourhoods rose in fury.
The troops responded by firing grenades and tear-gassing the population. In the midst of the confusion and tussle, one person was killed by the smoking gun of a police officer. The troops were now fighting a war on two fronts, Muea and Mile 16. As the peaceful demonstrators’ efforts to march through the main axis to Mile 17 and then through the Biya Boulevard to the Independence Square were thwarted by the combat-ready security forces, the unyielding demonstrators took back streets, bush tracks and foot paths to converge on the Independence Square, where they had planned to hoist the Ambazonian flag.
They were spotted by a military helicopter that was hovering over Buea and those on board the helicopter alerted the infantry, who responded by blocking all access roads leading to the Independence Square.
The demonstrators who had taken the Muea-Buea Town Road passing through Bokwai, hauled stones at the helicopter that was flying low and firing tear gas at them, to ward it off. The stones almost brought down the helicopter which flew away but returned to the area called CAMTEL Antenna and sprayed bullets into the palm bushes, undergrowth and trees. Many were caught by the bullets.
There were sporadic gunshots here-and-there in town and over four demonstrators were sent to the land of no return. The troops seized and carted away the bodies of some of the felled demonstrators while families and friends carried others for burial.
It was not until the following day, when people went looking for their loved ones that they reportedly discovered corpses and alerted family members.
Several other corpses were discovered behind the Governor’s Office, behind the Catholic Church Lower Farms and behind the Buena Central Market. The demonstrators had apparently gone there to hoist the Ambazonian flag as they had sworn to and were supposedly shot by troops guarding the area.
Same Scenario In Other Parts Of Southwest
In Kumba, the situation was relatively calm, but for intermittent gunshots in reaction to fire crackers that were unleashed by the population in some neighbourhoods. The gunshots also brought down a lawyer on Bamileke Street. According to reports garnered, on September 30, security forces wasted the life of a certain Basil Enongene.
In Tombel, a young man was reportedly shot dead by the police. The irate population responded by setting the Tombel Court and the State Prosecutor’s office ablaze.
In Banga Bakundu, three persons were reportedly shot by armed troops, two on the leg and one on the head. Another casualty was recorded in Yoke, Muyuka, when scores of villagers from Bafia reportedly confronted the police. In the stand-off that ensued, a certain Emmanuel was gunned down, while others were arrested, molested and whisked off into detention.
In Mamfe, at least one person was gunned down by the police. Things turned more bloody when the people of Akwaya joined those of Mamfe. Three security operatives were reportedly seriously assailed by the angry population.
Meanwhile, at Mile 12 Ikiliwndi, six persons buckled under the bullets of gendarmerie officers. In the Lebialem Division, the people of Alou, early Sunday morning, gathered at the village square and started marching to the Chief’s Palace, carrying peace plants and chanting liberation songs with deafening blasting of their whistles.
When they got to the deceased Chief’s Palace, the eldest queen of the land was given the opportunity to hoist the Ambazonian flag and the Ambazonia anthem was chanted, followed by other liberation songs, as the people declared their independence from the Republic of Cameroon.
An elite of the area who was dispatched from Yaounde to come home and soothe his kith and kin, was held under house arrest by the population. The forces of law and order watched helplessly as the Ambazonian flags were hoisted across the Subdivision.
Bloody Situation In Northwest
In Kumbo in the Northwest Region, seven persons were shot dead in cold blood by security forces. Five of the deceased, according to security reports, were inmates of the Kumbo Principal Prison, who attempted to escape after the detention facility was set on fire, while the two other civilians were young protesters who summoned the gumption and attempted to hoist the Ambazonian flag before they were brought down by security grenades.
Over nine bodies of people killed as a result of haphazard shooting, were transferred from Kumbo to Jakiri by angry demonstrators and over 137 inmates of the Kumbo Principal Prison were ferried to the Bamenda Central Prison.
In Ngokentunjia Division, a certain Pascal Tangunu aka Masco was eliminated by gendarmerie officers. But the Ambazonian flag was successfully hoisted in the Bamunka Fon’s Palace and the Ngoketujia Hills. At the Bambalang Gendarmerie Brigade Post, at least four demonstrators were wounded with grenades as they attempted to hoist the Ambazonian flag on the Gendarmerie premises.
In Nkambe, precisely in Ndu, the angry population confiscated the gun of a police officer. After seizing his gun, the police officer faked his own death just to be spared by the mob. He only resuscitated after his gun was handed over to the Fon. Meanwhile, the Brigade Commander in the area was also hospitalised. Three civilians were seriously injured by bullets from security rifles and are presently receiving treatment at the Nkambe Divisional Hospital.
The Boyo Division also witnessed fierce clashes between the forces of law and order and angry demonstrators. In the Divisional capital, Fundong, three civilians were shot by security forces and are presently receiving medical attention. The forces became vulnerable when they ran out of bullets and tear gas.
To defend themselves from the now incensed crowd, they resorted to a stone-throwing match with the mob. It only took the timely intervention of a military helicopter that was hovering over the Northwest Region to rescue the vulnerable gendarmerie officers. Despite the reinforcement from the helicopter, the service car of the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, for Boyo was razed.
At the Ngomgham neighbourhood in Bamenda, at least three persons were shot and were quickly ferried to the hospital where they are battling between life and death. In Mile 4 Nkwen, Bamenda, over four deaths were recorded from military gunshots.
In Mbengwi, security forces led by the DO, entered the Presbyterian Church while offerings were going and dispersed the congregation leaving the pastors very angry. Other churches were also dispersed. Same thing happened in Bamenda where security forces dispersed church services.
Meanwhile, hundreds were arrested and brutalised, some sustaining very serious injuries like fractures, and are being sent to await trial in prisons. In Bamenda, the detentions centres, mainly the Gendarmerie Legion, were full until the Bamenda Congress Hall served as one. In Buea, detention facilities were full and some of the people were reportedly detained in a private hotel premises.
In all, close to a thousand have been detained in horrible conditions in the two Anglophone Regions.
The killing of over 100 Anglophones on October 1 plus scores massacred earlier on September 22, has confirmed predictions by Hon. Joseph Wirba, Ni John Fru Ndi and Barrister Akere Muna that the Cameroon Government was planning genocide on Anglophones demanding their rights.
In July this year, opposition Social Democratic Front Chairman, John Fru Ndi, had told a visiting United Nations team that the Biya regime was planning genocide on Anglophones.
Telling the UN to hold President Paul Biya responsible if war breaks in Cameroon, Fru Ndi said if President Biya remains intransigent regarding the ongoing Anglophone Crisis, it will not be long for the country to disintegrate.
“The Anglophone communities are boiling. If the UN do think that they can’t interfere in the internal affairs of a country, let UN not intervene when war breaks out…” Fru Ndi told the visiting UN delegation to Cameroon, led by Pascale Roussy, the Electoral Political Affairs Assistant, and Francis Nadjita, UN Special Representative for Central Africa.
In a 16-point letter to the United Nations Secretary General, last September, the Member of Parliament, MP, for Jakiri special constituency, Hon. Joseph Wirba Mbiydzenyuy, called on the Secretary General of the United Nations to take special note of what he said is an ongoing genocide by the Biya regime on West Cameroon.
Hon. Wirba was pricked by an incident in which Gendarmes killed two young people in Bui Division, to buttress his claims of a systematic genocide on West Cameroon.
Barely days to the planned restoration and celebration of the independence of the Southern Cameroons aka Ambazonia on October 1, Barrister Akere Muna, one-time Bar President, wrote a letter to observe that the Yaounde Government was planning genocide on Anglophones as they planned to stage a demonstration to commemorate the independence of Southern Cameroon on October 1.
The shooting of people in connection to the demands of Anglophones, the killing of dozens of peaceful marchers on September 22 and the slaying of demonstrators on October 1 make the pronouncements of these Anglophone personalities look like prophesies.
The deployment of troops with live bullets to fight unarmed demonstrators has therefore confirmed the assertions of these personalities of the Government planning genocide on Anglophones on their demands.