JOHANNESBURG – The Cameroonian government has killed thousands of civilians, displaced millions, held thousands incommunicado and destroyed hundreds of villages in Anglophone parts of the country, according to one of the senior officials of a movement fighting for the independent state of Ambazonia out of South Cameroon.
The human rights situation in Anglophone Cameroon, which has fast-deteriorated since 2016, has continued to worry international human rights bodies, with at least nine of them last week challenging the United Nations’ Security Council to move in and stop the carnage, largely blamed on the heavy-handedness of President Paul Biya’s government.
In his address to fellow fighters, Dabney Yerima, Vice President of the movement fighting for the independence of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, pointed out serious human rights violations by the Cameroonian forces, but vowed that his movement would continue to fight to attain its full independence.
“The Cameroon government, through its military and government death squad, the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), has since burnt down more than 206 Ambazonian villages, along with the old and the sick in their beds in some cases,” said Yerima.
“They take their time to loot businesses and homes in some cases prior to burning down the villages as they did in parts of their country in the 1960s. They also make sure make sure to kill our pigs and dogs while they are at it. More than 2,000 of our fellow Ambazonian citizens have been slaughtered, either by summary execution, or randomly shot without cause by Camerounese soldiers. Beyond the malicious premeditated massacres, terror inducing tactics like deliberately dumping corpses to decompose in the village square have been deployed. We currently have more than 2500 political prisoners being illegally held by the Cameroun regime.
“More than half a million of our people have been forced to abandon everything they worked for their entire lives to become refugees in Nigeria and other neighboring countries like Ghana, and millions are internally displaced in Ambazonia and across the border in Cameroun. More than 100 of our villages have been deserted and taken over by grass, as tens of thousands of villagers flee into the forest to seek safety from the Camerounese military, and are now living in the forest exposed to all kinds of dangers.”
Mr Yerima however, said his movement would continue fighting against “a threat to our very own existence” and dealing with the fallout of “a war of extermination imposed on our people by the French neo-colonial regime in next-door Cameroun in its effort to enforce its occupation”.
“Our brave restoration forces, whom less than 3 years ago were teachers, students, farmers, cab drivers, buyam sellam, and ordinary citizens, are fearlessly standing up to the cowardly French Cameroun government death squads that Burn down entire villages and shoot down babies in their sleep. The Cameroun Prime Minister now roams our streets begging for federalism, which less than three years ago, their President said could never be a topic for discussion. Our revolution is rooted in our inalienable right to self-determination, a right that can neither be given nor taken away by any government or legal power,” added Yerima, who said his grandfather, also a fighter for the liberation of Ambazonia, was once shackled by the Cameroon government.
“Every day, when I see the lifeless bodies of Our people of Southern Cameroons killed or wasted by the brutal forces of La Republique du Cameroun (LRC), the picture of my Grandfather’s legs appears before me; when I hear our refugees are hungry and helpless, that picture appears before me; when I hear our IDPs especially the women lack sanitary towels, for their personal hygiene, that image appears before me; when I hear our boys who have committed themselves to defend our homeland have no food or the right tools to use to defend us all, Grandfather’s words steer me in the face; when I hear we cannot afford the legal fees for our leaders in jail or cannot afford mattresses for most LRC captives of their senseless war and detainees in their filthy jails, that image hunts me;
“When I see our brothers distracted and fighting each other instead of the occupier and colonizer, that image hunts me; when I see our people on all streets, in all houses and in all communities; villages and towns willing to continue to sacrifice everything they have including their lives, resolved never to give up until we get into a fee Ambazonia, that image hunts me.”
He paid tribute to incarcerated leaders of the Ambazonian revolution, who include their President Sisiku Julius AyukTabe, Deacon Wilfred Tassang, Professor Augustine Awasum, Dr. Cornelius Kwanga, Dr. Henry Kimeng, Dr. Fidelis Ndeh-Che, Dr. Egbe Ogork, Barrister Shufai Berinyuy, Barrister Elias Eyambe, and Dr. Nfor Ngalla Nfor, Mancho Bibixy, Patrick Ndangoh, Penn Terence, Dzenjoh Germaine, Tsi Conrad, Dasi Alfred and Tebit, among others.
“The UN Security Council was warned in December 2018, that this conflict had become ‘one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa.’ In April 2019, the UN reported that the conflict was affecting at least 4 million people. That is close to the entire population of Ireland or New Zealand, and more than the population of some 103 countries, members of the UN,” said Mr Yerima.
“The sadness and anger of our people is not just about the material and human losses, but it is about a wrenching anxiety that the communities their ancestors built for thousands of years might be lost for good. I refuse to let that happen, and our resolve has been tested and our resilience to be free proven.”
He vowed that his movement would fight the setback that followed the abduction of their leaders “with everything we’ve got and for as long as it takes”.
“We will make the Camerounese regime pay for the damage it has caused. And we will do whatever is necessary to get our revolution to recover its full vigor. Our resolve has been tested and our resilience to be free proven. Thank you my dear people for all your sacrifices. Buea is our prize and that we will together deliver to ourselves. Our women are increasingly taking the central stage,” added Yerima, who revealed several progressive areas of a multi-pronged approach to enforce the movement and its people. The plan extends beyond the physical fight to economic, social, reconstruction and international advocacy areas.
“Our revolution needs participatory democratic structures that do not rely on the character of individuals in leadership for accountability to reign in the processes of decision making. To establish such, we looked at the movement within the frame of a Unified Self-Defence, Unified Political Engagement of our community and a Coordinated International Outreach,” added Yerima, in an address titled: “The New Dawn is here – FRA IG CARE: We mobilise, fundraise, educate, collaborate and deliver.”
“To our brave restoration forces who now live under trees, sleep on bare stomachs, have sacrificed your livelihoods, jobs and families and literally given up everything you have including your lives to fight for our collective freedom, our words will never be able to express enough the depth of our appreciation to you. We commit to never abandon you until we get to Buea and beyond. To our parents, relatives and communities who have lost loved ones, their blood will never go in vain. Accept our deepest condolences.
“We must be vigilant and learn our enemy’s actions and use them to sharpen our reflexes. For the pillar to be firm enough to hold up a house it needs to be buried deep, enforced with rocks, compacted and tested. Your friends are NOT going to do that for you, it’s your enemies who raise you up by default. My people, let those against us not shaken your resolve because it’s their hate and anger that empowers our resolve and it will be total independence or resistance forever.”