Kondengui: Five Anglophone Detainees Abandon Hunger Strike as Health Conditions Worsen

Anglophone detainees
Some of the Anglophone detainees (including Mancho BBC) in Kondengui

By Yussuf Issa, Monday, June 12,2017

Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – Some Five Anglophone detainees at the Yaounde Kondengui central prison who are reportedly in bad shape (poor health) have abandoned an indefinite hunger strike action, which they, with over 65 other detainees at the facility, embarked on June 5.

It is yet unclear whether the five detainees, whose health conditions have reportedly deteriorated, abandoned the venture out of the bitter pains of hunger.

The development comes a few days after several individuals including Hon. Wirba Joseph, called on the detainees to call off the food starvation exercise.

Yesterday, The Cameroon Journal gathered that though the five sick detainees will no longer take part in the hunger strike until they fully recover from their ailments, the 65 others have vowed to move on with the hunger strike.

On June 8, the detainees in a statement titled “why we have decided to embark on an indefinite hunger strike”, addressed to members of parliament, said they were bent on continuing with the strike until government sought what they described as a “logical solution to our precarious situation.”

“Honourable members of parliament, some of us have been here for seven months and still do not understand why we are here. Most of us have been given trumped up charges such as terrorism, treason, insurrection, inciting civil war etc, while others have not even been charged. We have been accused wrongfully of murder, carrying weapons of war and every possible lie to make us look like criminals” wrote the detainees to MPs.

Earlier on June 5, while announcing the hunger strike action, the over 70 detainees had said the move was to protest against their long stay in detention despite calls for their immediate and unconditional release by UN officials and other international bodies.

In their letter to the prison administrator in Kondengui, the detainees wrote: “Sir, we have a lot of respect for you and your entire prisons administration for the efforts you have made and continue to make to ensure that we are in good health and are able to survive a very bad situation.”

They added: “Following your advice in the meeting we held with you concerning the subject of our hunger strike, we are proceeding here to inform you of the general reasons for the hunger strike.”

In outlining their grievances, the detainees recounted in their two-page letter: “Since November 2016 that the first group of detainees arrived and others followed, it is now six months and we are still in detention with no promise of release. We are far away from our families and have no means of assistance and assisting them despite the difficult times they are going through.”

They said on April 12, the special representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Central Africa, Francois Louceny Fall demanded the government of Cameroon to, amongst other things, release immediately and unconditionally, all the detainees arrested from the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon following the socio-political uprising which started in late 2016. They regretted that since the plea from the UN diplomat, government has been mute over the issue.

“Following our long stay in detention, many have developed psychological problems as a result of the trumped up charges against us by the Yaounde military tribunal. Charges such as terrorism, secession, rebellion and civil war, treason etc…, have been leveled against us by the Yaounde military tribunal” lamented the detainees.

“We note amongst us that there are teachers, students, parents, school proprietors and a cross section of the English Cameroon community languishing in jail. During our detention, we have lost our jobs, livelihoods and much more. Our families are on the streets, our loved ones are heartbroken and we are unable to provide them with any assistance or comfort” they lamented.

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