By Eric Tataw – Washington DC, USA, Thursday, February 6, 2020.
A recent Amnesty International report has greatly offset President Paul Biya’s plans to use council and legislative elections to impress the International Community that normalcy has returned to Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions of the North West and South West, pundits say.
Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization with its headquarters in the United Kingdom and focuses on human rights. The UK-based NGO said Thursday February 6, 2020, that there has been a rise in violence by the Cameroon military in recent weeks, adding it has led to dozens of killings and thousands of new displacements in several areas across the Anglophone regions.
Cameroon holds elections on Sunday, February 9, 2020, but the Central African country has been battling to contain an armed conflict in its North West and South West now in its third year. Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, referred to as President of Ambazonia, the new state rebels are battling to establish declared the Restoration of Independence for these regions in 2017.
Amnesty International confirmed the burning of more than 50 houses in Babubock and neighbouring villages of Bangem in the South West on January 14, 2020. These destruction by the army, including killings of villagers, are serious human rights violations, the agency said.
Amnesty International also accused the government of using a pretext to carry out brutal killings of innocent civilians. “The security measures and increased military presence announced by the Cameroonian government to ensure this weekend’s vote can take place, appear to have been a pretext for a much more sinister operation,” it said.
Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR in French) on 24 December 2019, shot and killed an aid worker. The humanitarian worker was arrested by heavily armed military men wearing uniforms of the BIR, brought to a police station and later found dead on January 2, 2020, in a road, his body presenting evidence of torture and gunshot wounds to the head, Amnesty International said, citing eyewitnesses.
The agency also accused armed separatists, saying they continue to commit serious crimes, including killings, abductions, and extortions. On January 30, 2020, four staff of a humanitarian organisation were abducted by an armed separatist group, which accused them of working for the government, it has confirmed.
“They were released a day later after three of them were beaten and subjected to psychological torture, according to the organisation. On 15 January, a young man was killed, and his father injured near Bamenda (North-West), as they tried to avoid checkpoints held by armed separatists,” the agency furthered.
According to Amnesty International, on December 3, 2019, three people including a doctor were abducted by armed separatists between the village of Bambili and the town of Bamenda (North-West). Abductors started asking for a ransom of 5000 euros before reducing it to 100 euros. Before their release, the persons were blindfolded, and guns pointed at them while they were yelling, the report says.
At least, 14000 people have so far been killed in battles and military raids with over 400 villages burnt down. Thousands are held across various detention facilities, including Ayuk Tabe and nine others sentenced for life. Over two million remain displaced as refugees and IDPs since the beginning of the crisis.