By Beltha Mokube – Thursday September 5, 2019.
US-based Cameroonian activist, Eric Tataw has negotiated the safe release of Mary Namondo Motimbe, Journalist of Buea-based Bonakanda Community Radio in Cameroon’s restive South West Region, National Telegraph has confirmed.
She was released moments ago after the prompt intervention of Eric Tataw who himself is a journalist, sources have confirmed. Mary has been released Thursday September 5, 2019, sources say.
The Journalist spoke with Eric Tataw in captivity and confessed she was doing fine and was subsequently released after Eric explained to her captors the need to respect journalists in times of war.
She was picked up by unidentified armed men, Tuesday, September 3, 2019 after they stormed the local radio station, local media and Journalists’ Associations say.
Earlier Thursday September 5, 2019, three media organizations sent out a Joint Statement for the Release of the Journalist.
“We, members of the Buea Chapter of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists (CAMASEJ), the South West Chapter of the Cameroon Journalists Trade Union (CJTU/SNJC) and the Cameroon Community Media Network (CCMN) note with pain the abduction of our colleague, Journalist Mary Namondo of the Bonakanda Community Radio by members of the Non-State Armed Group Tuesday, September 3, 2019,” the statement read.
They recalled that Eric Tataw had demanded that journalists, teachers, landlords and all members of the society preaching school resumption in the troubled North West and South West Regions should be systematically stopped.
They had appealed that Eric Tataw should ensure the unconditional and immediate release of their colleague, Journalist Mary Namondo of the Bonakanda Community Radio.
They had expressed regrets that what was really abducted was freedom of the press, urging both parties (government and separatists) in the on-going situation in the restive North West and South West Regions to not see journalists and media organs as targets.
On same issue, Angela Quintal from the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York contacted Eric Tataw. Responding to the CPJ official, Eric said he was doing everything to ensure that Mary who is her colleague is released.
Eric however denied any wrongdoing but admitted to CPJ that he had demanded on a Live Facebook video that journalists should take the social responsibility of the media to preach for Cameroon’s dictator, Paul Biya who’s president since 1982 to end the war, withdraw soldiers before preaching school resumption.
While admitting that he had called for Journalists preaching school resumption to be “systematically stopped”, Eric also told CPJ that there was a possibility that the act might have been carried out by government-sponsored militias led by Cameroon’s Minister of Territorial Administration.
In a message, Eric said ” My words are my words and I’m not afraid to take responsibility of the things I say. I’m happy to have been part of the process leading to the safe release of my colleague, Mary Namondo. I however urge the rest of my colleagues to ensure they use their pens and voices to call out the Cameroon government to ensure a ceasefire before school resumption; right to life is supreme to right to education.”
Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions are engulfed in a deadly armed conflict and several groups including elements of the armed forces and mobile police have been accused of kidnapping and targeting innocent civilians, including their goods and chattels, sources say.
According to credible reports from the US Ambassador to Cameroon, Peter Henry Barlerin, reputable Human Rights Lawyer Agbor Balla and Bishops of Mamfe and Kumbo, the Cameroon military has been wrapped in several war crimes, including the illegal arrest and detention of journalists.
Insecurity has greatly increased in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon with Anglophone armed groups fighting for the Restoration of the statehood of Ambazonia, a self-declared independent country the rebels are trying to establish in the Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions.
It started in October 2016 as a disagreement in language but government mismanaged it, turning it into an armed conflict with a demand by majority of Anglophones in the North West and South West for the separate state as it was in 1961.
Many are now asking the International Community to look at the root cause of the conflict from 1961. The conflict has kept children out of school for the fourth year now and there’re no signs of the Biya Regime ending the war with international intervention.