Regardless of calls for a ceasefire, warring parties in Cameroon’s English Speaking Regions have continued to commit gross Human Rights violations/abuses against the Civilian Population.
Despite the beginning of talks between the government of Cameroon and Separatist Leaders in Kondengui principal prison in Yaounde as a step towards finding a solution to the Anglophone crisis, little has changed on the ground on both sides as the violence continues to take an upsurge. The civilian population continues to bear the brunt of the crisis, perpetrated by both the government troops and separatist fighters. CHRDA has Documented cases of violence against the civilian population in the villages of Ekona and Pinyin, perpetrated by the military, and cases against the civilian population perpetrated by armed separatist fighters in Bamenda, NWR, and Lebialem in the SWR of Cameroon
The murder of Jonas Jimbong and Musi Basil in Ekona by government troops.
On June 28th, 2020, the B.I.R in a cordon search invaded the ‘B-Quarter’ in the village of Ekona, Fako Division of the Southwest Region, and killed 2 unarmed civilians. On this day, the BIR rounded up 8 men, 6 of which were returning from the farm, while one was removed from his house and were all taken to a place in the bush where two were shot on the head. The two victims who were killed were identified as Jimbong Jonas a 40 years old farmer and Musi Basil, a 33 years old man who also is a farmer and are both residents at Ekona.
To document this case, CHRDA interviewed 5 eyewitnesses who gave corroborative testimony on the incident and named the B.I.R as the perpetrators. They recounted that foot soldiers, numbering over 20, match into the village at about 8 a.m, when the village was relatively calm and people going about their daily activities, and started shooting and searching people’s houses. When they arrived, they met no separatist fighters but decided to vent their anger on unarmed civilians. They arrested Mr. Jonas Jimbong while he was on his way to the farm and as they were passing in front of Musi Basil’s door, they met him inside and pulled him out. At the time of his arrest, he was preparing to go to Buea with his mum to attend the funeral mass of his cousin who died abroad, and while he just took his bath and was about dressing up, the soldiers invaded his house and pulled him out. They arrested him while he had just a pair of pants and his bathroom slippers on and took him alongside Jonas Jimbong to a nearby bush where they would later be killed.
While the two men were being held by the military, at about 11 am, six (6) other elderly men, members of a ‘Njangi Group’, (name of the group withheld) were returning from the farm and were rounded up and taken in custody by the soldiers. They beat up the men, accusing them of hiding separatist fighters. The soldiers isolated Jonas and Basil from the crowd because they were relatively young from the other 6 men who were all in their 60s, and shot the two just close by. As the 6 men heard the gunshots, one man exclaimed “Jesus”, and the BIR gave him extra beatings for calling the name of Jesus Christ. They were later asked to get up and run away after being held and made to seat on the ground from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.
Furthermore, the witnesses recounted that after this incident; the soldiers abandoned the two corpses there and left. At about 4 pm, the inhabitants carried the two corpses in a two-wheel truck to their houses in ‘B-Quarter’, and Basil was later taken to the mortuary in Buea while Jonas was hurriedly buried the same day. At the burial of Jonas, the soldiers emerged at the funeral with guns and some with masks faces, with their chest vest bearing the BIR inscription as the eyewitnesses recounted. “It was about 4 p.m when we were digging the grave to burry Jonas, suddenly, we saw the whole compound surrounded by military, and they came from all angles of the compound. We were more than 50 persons at the burial and they ask all of us to seat on the ground. We were so afraid and sat with our faces looking down.” A 56 year all widow recounted.
Another witness recounted that while they were seated on the ground, the military demanded to see the person who carried the corpses from where they were shot. The boys who carried the corpses stood up and they threatened to beat them up. They later singled out one boy from among the crowd and beat him mercilessly. They gave a message to the crowd to deliver to the armed separatist which states that; “tell those boys in the bush that if we hear any gunshot in this village again, we shall come back and kill more than 10 of you that day, nothing actually happened today.” After saying this, the soldiers left and asked the population to continue with the burial.
A 63-year-old man while talking to CHRDA, lamented over the murder of Basil his nephew, he wept so bitterly while recounting his tribulation; “it shall never be well with those soldiers. As I burry my children, so shall they bury theirs. Today they have killed my nephew, the last one who has been helping me all these years to spray cocoa which I sale to pay school fees for his younger ones, after killing my two elderly sons in 2018 and 2019 respectively, they have finished him today to make it three children lost to the crisis. It shall never be well with those soldiers…my children were all innocent.”
The old man recounted that the military has killed two of his sons in the previous years before killing his nephew this time. On the 25th of December 2018, the army in Ekona removed his eldest son Aliabet Clifford, 32 years of age from his house and shot him just before his door, and on the 10th of October 2019, the military arrested his second son, Aliabet Smith and killed him.
According to him, on the Christmas day of 2018, Clifford a cocoa buyer was sleeping in his room at about 5 a.m, when the military launched an attack in the village and took him out where he was shot just at his door. The military in a rebel search invaded the quarter and while they were doing door to door search, all young men started fleeing to the bushes. One young man saw them and ran towards Clifford’s door. They came close and could not find him except one lady who was just waking up and asked her the whereabouts of the young man. The lady responded and said she didn’t see anybody, but a man is sleeping in his room and pointed at Clifford’s room. The soldiers smashed the door open with their boats and pulled him out. They arrested another boy in the same quarter and killed the two, and dump their corpses in a pit latrine which was not yet in use.
When Clifford’s Aliabet Smith, Clifford’s younger brother who is 28 years of age head of the murder of his brother, he escaped from Ekona to the Forest in Maotu Village and remained there until October 2019, and on the 10th of October 2019, he came out to Ekona as he head that people have started returning to their homes, unfortunately, he fell into the hands of the military who arrested him and demanded that he must show the hideout of the armed separatist fighters. He told the army he does not know and they shot him and dump his corps in a cassava farm after pulling him around the village in a truck before dumping him in a cassava farm where he was discovered 4 days after at an advanced state of decomposition
THE MILITARY OPERATION IN PINYIN, 19 OF JULY, 2020
On the 19th of July 2020, the defence and security forces started an offensive operation in the village of Pinyin, Santa Sub Division, Mezam Division of the North West Region, and committed human rights violations. The offensive operation was launched against armed separatist fighters who are operating in the localities of Pinyin, Santa, Njong, and Azire. CHRDA has not been able to independently verify the damages caused on the side of the armed separatist fighters, however, the military in the village of Pinyin recorded several atrocities against the civilian population.
In Pinyin, the military shot and killed two civilians, one of which is identified as Mbuh Wilfred Ndoh. They also razed five houses belonging to Mr. Nsemeng Emmanuel and Mr. Mbuh Julius Kese. To document this case, CHRDA interviewed several victims and eyewitnesses who recounted that the military launched an attack in the village and looted several properties belonging to unarmed civilians. At the Ndepeng Market square in Pinyin, they broke into people’s stores and stole crates of beer, and many valuable items which they loaded in military trucks which they came with. they also moved into the quarters, breaking into people’s doors and stealing mattresses. In one of the villages in Pinyin, they stole 16 cows, 6 pigs, and 4 goats all belonging to civilians.
The excessive gunfire in Pinyin and Santa forced the inhabitants to pack their Cargoes and flee into the bushes and at the time of this report, they are still hiding under the rain in the bush. As the population escaped to the bushes, a heavily pregnant woman (name withheld) was abandoned at home and there was no one to take care of her. On the night of the attack, she went into labour, and her only neighbour, an old woman called Beatrice Wopong, who could not escape because of her age came to assist her. At about 11 p.m, they started walking to the hospital, and while on their way the lady was delivered of the baby by Mami Beatrice. After putting to birth just by the roadside, they decided to continue the walk to the hospital. As they were walking down towards a military control post, they had a touch in their hand and once the military saw the touch light, they shot a grenade at the two women and the new baby died instantly. Mami Beatrice was badly injured on the head and both ladies were taken to the hospital in Bamenda, and have been in oxygen until today the 22nd of July when Mami Beatrice Died of her wounds while receiving treatment in Bamenda. CHRDA has received and analyzed amateur images taken of her while in the hospital with her brain severely damaged.
The soldiers, who threw the grenade, came close and realized that they have shot two unarmed civilians and just abandoned them by the roadside. It was the next morning that some courageous persons came and took them to the hospital. The military left Pinyin and went to Santa, on their way, they shot and killed two young men who were riding on a motorbike. They were shot at close range and their corpses abandoned by the roadside.
ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY NON-STATE ARMED GROUPS
The abduction of a teacher in Bamenda, and children in Lebialem by armed Separatist Fighters.
In the English speaking regions, separatist fighters continue to perpetuate acts of violence against the civilian population. Hostage-taking and extortion have been a tactic used by the separatist armed groups since the escalation of the crisis. The domain of education has been used especially by separatist armed groups as a weapon of war. On Monday the 20th of July 2020, armed separatist fighters abducted Mr. Shey Polycarp, a teacher in the North West Region, and kept in custody. An amateur footage went viral on social media, depicting the teacher seated on the ground without a shirt, save an innerwear while being interrogated by the Separatist fighters in Pidgin English. The abductors accused him of violating the Monday ghost town and a ban on school resumption imposed by the non-state actors in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon.
Polycarp was on his way to G.B.H.S Down Town, Bamenda, to supervise the Computer Practical session of the General Certificate of Education Examinations (G.C.E) before being abducted by the separatists. The 2mins 54seconds video ended with the abductors promising to kill Mr. Polycarp, and telling him he will pay with his “blood”, for being a traitor. At the time of this report, the teacher is still held up by his kidnappers. They also chanted a slogan “eyooh eyooh”, meaning “No joy for the wicked”
The abduction of teachers and students by non-state actors poses a serious threat to the domain of education and these have caused thousands of children to remain at home most especially in rural areas since the begging of the crisis in 2016.
The abduction of Mr. Polycarp in the North West Region follows the abduction of about 60 children in the Lebialem Division of the South-West Region, allegedly committed by a certain Separatist fighter by the Name of General Ayeke. It is reported the average ages of these children ranges between 14 and 16 years, and according to the local administrator in the Division, 12 of these children escaped from captivity and the kidnappers are demanding ransom from the parents before they can release the remainder.
CHRDA Condemns these atrocities in the most possible strong terms, and call on the government of Cameroon to carry out a robust investigation into the various cases and bring the perpetrators to justice. This will put an end to impunity and give the rule of law and peace a chance to prevail. The government should ensure that justice should not only be done but should be seen to be done
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