By Stephen Ngam
Brutal killings of the most hair-raising kind have resurged across the Southern Cameroons in the past weeks. The most recent is the slaughtering of Comfort Afiri in Muyuka. Prior to Comfort’s death, one Treasure in the Bamenda area, was killed in very similar circumstances. The killers take the pains to record chilling graphic details of the killings, to identify themselves as Ambazonian fighters, to justify the killings as due to treason and to contract an LRC sponsored social media outlet, MKPD, to release the videos with maximum shocking effect to the whole wide world. The killings happen as if on cue, and like during previous years, they often come quite close to a UN gathering in New York, as if to counter the upcoming 22 September commemoration of massive slaughter of Southern Cameroonians on that date in 2017.
Although the government of Cameroun, through its Minister of Communication, Emmanuel Rene Sadi, in a statement on Thursday 13 August 2020, blamed the Southern Cameroons self-defence groups for the extrajudicial killings, just like they have done before, nothing proves that the Southern Cameroonians are responsible. If there is any proof of such accusations, it is certainly not the fact that the killers self-identify on camera as Southern Cameroonian defence forces; it is a common secret that sabotage killings are staged to smear opponent camps during war, where the first casualty is the truth.
Anthony Bangha, a human rights defender, talking to SCCOP’s reporters from his Fundong residence said the fight for the liberation of the Southern Cameroons has been infiltrated by Cameroun government sponsored groups serving as agents provocateurs and Trojan horses. “What do the Ambazonia fighters gain by filming and publishing scenes of barbaric acts of this nature? Somebody who is in his normal senses can’t do that by incriminating himself. I think somebody somewhere is impersonating the freedom fighters”, he argued.
Some persons we talked to in “ground zero” argued that the Yaounde regime soldiers and some elite of Ambazonia in La Republique’s government have been noted in the past for brutal killings, burning of homes and sexual abuse among other crimes and painting the Ambazonia forces black. A majority of Southern Cameroonians cited instances where the Cameroun forces have carried out irreparable damages while trying to wipe the evidence and putting the blames on freedom fighters. Some cited the case of the Ngarbuh Massacre of 14th February, 2020 where the government of Cameroun denied responsibility and blamed Southern Cameroonian defence forces, only back tracking after an independent inquiry by Amnesty International proved the Cameroun Army intentionally executed the civilians.
A 42 year old man, who refused to be mentioned for fear of being persecuted, accused Paul Atanga Nji, Cameroun’s Minister of Territorial Administration of sponsoring groups across the North West region with the aim of tarnishing the image of the fighters. The groups, he said, are made of murder row convicts who are released after they accept the bargain to kill on behalf of the Cameroun government. He also mentioned how the colonial governor of the South West, Bernard Okalia Bilai and the late mayor of Buea use to run such groups to prove to their master, Paul Biya that they are working hard. “We have seen instances where soldiers of La Republique raid villages carrying out mass arrests, torturing people, breaking their legs and burning their homes leaving them helpless. It is true that Ambazonian fighters also kill those they qualify “black legs” but they do that secretly not in public as they videos show on social media”, the man said.
Most Ambazonians expressed the need for a UN led investigation into the repeated killings so as to identify the culprits and to punish them accordingly. This is the opinion of Agbor Balla of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA). According to this human rights group leader, violence has been perpetrated by both Cameroun government security forces and armed groups. The CHRDA also thinks that criminal gangs are also terrorizing local inhabitants, wreaking havoc and Southern Cameroonian defence actors are not solely to blame for some atrocities even in areas under their control.
This article first appeared in THINK LIKE A SCCOPPER Volume 1 Issue 6. Please click to read the full publication: Think like a SCCOPper Edition 6.pdf