By Chris Anu, Sunday Oct. 8, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Washington D.C – Last week, the Cameroon Journal had opportunity to speak to Issa Tchiroma, Cameroon Communication Minister, in an interview. He was asked if he was aware of pogroms that are ongoing in different parts of the Southwest and Northwest regions, to which he gave the flimsy excuse that he needed time to consult with some other authority for answers.
Essentially, Tchiroma meant to say that he wasn’t aware of the killings. Nevertheless, the following day in an outing to the media, when asked to comment on the shootings in the Southwest and Northwest, Tchiroma was exhilarated and quick to point out that the forces are doing exactly what they were assigned to do. And what were they assigned to do? The surgical shootings, killings, torture and rape on the streets of the Southern Cameroons.
Since October 1st, our emails at the Cameroon Journal have been flooded with incessant messages from desperate and powerless people who have had to witness their loved ones killed, taken away and or tortured for nothing. The soldiers, the police and the gendarmes, since October 1st, embarked on a campaign of pogrom in which they move door-to-door and shot, arrest and torture powerless and defenseless civilians who have committed no crime. Some who have been spared arrest have had to bribe the police with amounts up to 500,000frs. to be let go.
Is this the type of country the Cameroon gov’t wants the Southern Cameroons to remain in? Read these excerpts for example from desperate citizens who have no one to turn to:
“Am writing from Muea town in Buea where massive arrest of civilians are on the increase every day since September 22. Today, Saturday Oct. 7th, I have seen the same thing. Military men came into town this morning, intruded into people’s homes and arrested them. My sister was cooking in the kitchen and a police man asked her to enter the sitting room and leave the food to rot on the fire. I was on my way to work but many people advised I return home immediately. About four hours later, the first truck full of arrested youths passed up to Buea. It’s really disturbing and I wonder if the Cameroon Journal can help blow the trumpet about this evil. THIS CAME IN FROM A LADY IN MUEA.
Then, another one wrote:
“It’s horrible here in Muea. Gendarmes are killing at random arresting youths for no crime committed! Today the 7th of October at 7 in the morning, a friend of mine by name Tanga George was arrested by La republic gendarmes. Crime? “he’s an Anglophone.” More than 70 other persons were arrested in Muea today. We are doom! Who put us in this shit? Where is UN Security and Britain? Please do something fast.”
Still, another one wrote: “My heart is very heavy. I am weeping. This morning, I was going to church at Mile 16 Buea, there was no soul out except soldiers. The whole place was covered by soldiers and they were going through the quarters breaking doors and pulling out young people. We saw many youths sitting on the ground along the road surrounded by soldiers, while some soldiers were pulling others and bringing to the road. There were about four army trucks standing by, probably waiting to transport the youths to be slaughtered. Please, tell the Governing Council that they might come to find Southern Cameroons with all youths dead. The killings will be done in secret since there are no cameras to take and disseminate the scenes. Let the United Nations know that genocide is being committed in Southern Cameroons.” The writer concluded.
We have several reports like these, but space cannot allow us put all here. As we report, there are pogroms going on in Mutengenie and Buea. Francophones living in the Southwest and Northwest, we have learned, are going around pointing to the police and gendarmes who should be arrested. The situation has fast deteriorated. A pastor by the name of John Babilla is said to have been arrested today. Other reports say that a Church in Buea was stormed by the police and almost half of the worshipers taken away.
Still in Buea, there are reports of summary executions by troops from LRC taking place. Another pastor whose identity we are yet to confirm was shot and killed. A young Beti police officer is reported to have jumped out of his jeep and asking a young man “je veut un Abazonia’? He didn’t wait for the boy to answer before reaching out for his pistol with which he shot the young man to death.
Prisons in Buea and Mamfe are reportedly flooded with young people who have committed no crime. Dressing rooms in Buea stadium have been turned into make shift prisons. The detainees have no food, no water – nothing.
Today, Sunday Oct. 8, we received classified information to the effect that the office of the Prosecutor in the Southwest Region has asked judges in Buea, and Mamfe and other jurisdictions where all those arrested are being held, to carry out a speedy trial of the suspects tomorrow Monday October 9, and hastily pass judgement that sentences the boys to imprisonment including had labor.
At the Southern Cameroons Journal, we ask, is this the government, is this the country that wants to live with us? Anybody still thinking that dialogue is going to resolve this crisis must be dreaming. They will kill people, but they cannot kill the idea of a free and independent Southern Cameroons. If that were possible, 56yrs. after, nobody would still be talking about it today. The idea, the vision about a free and independent Southern Cameroons cannot be murdered, – not right now, not after we have made such tremendous progress. Paul Biya plus his entire battalion of army will live and die, but this idea is not going anywhere – not until we are a free people.
We see the level of despair, and frustration that is out there right now. Even so, we must not give up. We will still have to reach quite a number of such situations before we sing the last freedom song and raise the final flag in Buea. But when we get to these situations, it is important we remember that in contemporary history, no country in Africa has gotten their independence handed to them. They fought for it. Every drop of blood on our streets for this cause, must only arouse in us the determination to take back our country – the Southern Cameroons. We must let our aggressors know that their intimidation isn’t going to stop our resolve to be free from their domination.
They can smile today, and they surely have the right to, but we will laugh last. They may be winning the battle now, but one thing is sure, we will win the war. And that is all that matters at the end of the day. Nobody should be despaired. They just want us to give up the struggle. But we cannot give it up – not right now when the blood of our children cries out on our streets from LRC genocide. If we give up now, their images will forever hunt us and we will never go to bed with free consciences. It will mean they sacrificed for nothing.
And to the diplomatic community in Cameroon, it is a disservice to the countries that you represent sirs, and to humanity to sit there in Yaoundé and do nothing while a dictator of the first order slaughters a generation. If it doesn’t move you that innocent young men are being pulled out of their homes shot at gun point and others brutalized and then thrown in jails, then you have no consciences.
Please, leave your comfort in Yaoundé, drive to Buea, Mamfe, Bamenda, and Kumbo and let the people give you their stories first hand. Visit the prisons and detention centres and see for yourself. You must not forget the fact that you still have a mission in Cameroon only because there is relative peace. When guerrilla or open warfare final beaks out, you will not be able to live in Cameroon. While the situation still remains redeemable, you can do something, – bad things only happen when good people do nothing.