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For security reasons, researchers were unable to access some of the affected divisions of the two regions but they interviewed internally displaced people who came from such areas. Interviewees were identified with the help of an extensive network of contacts in both regions. Interviews were conducted individually and in private except for five interviews in which family members or close friends were present.
Most interviews were conducted in English or French. Three interviews were conducted in Pidgin English with the help of a trusted translator. We informed all interviewees of the purpose of the interview, its voluntary nature, and the ways in which data would be collected and used. The names and other identifying information of all our interlocutors have been withheld, and in some cases replaced with pseudonyms.
Researchers also collected documentary evidence, including written complaints to a local organization following acts of repression by security forces and dozens of videos and photographs showing casualties and destructions allegedly caused by security forces or security forces abusing civilians or burning villages. A number of those videos were forensically analyzed, compared to satellite imagery, and verified by Human Rights Watch specialists.
Human Rights Watch also obtained and analyzed satellite images covering much of the territory where interviewees alleged government security forces burned villages.
“These Killings Can Be Stopped”
The British were granted a small band of territory bordering what is now Nigeria while the French got a larger share in the center and east of the territory. During the four decades of British and French administrations, the two areas were subjected to vastly different legal, political, and administrative systems, as well as socio-cultural mores.
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The new federation, presided by Ahmadou Ahidjo and an Anglophone vice-president, quickly became a single-party state in which the president consolidated power through repression. Ten years later, Ahidjo resigned stating health reasons, paving the way for the swearing-in as president of his long-time prime minister Paul Biya. In the early s, President Biya enacted constitutional reforms in response to opposition calls for multiparty democracy.
Biya, 85, is up for reelection in October At least 40 people reportedly died. Less than two months later, the ruling party-controlled legislative assembly voted to remove terms limits, and in Biya was reelected for a sixth term with The government did not change its course and maintained its position of support for the unitary system. In late , Anglophone lawyers and teachers went on strike in the South-West and North-West regions to protest the deployment of francophone magistrates and teachers to the area.
In early January , as activists called for more demonstrations in the North-West and South-West regions, members of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium CACSC , agreed to meet with the government to urge the release of protesters arrested during a violently-repressed demonstration in Bamenda on December 8, While the ghost town protests continued throughout , violence did not escalate substantially until the middle of the year, when two schools that had advertised their reopening ahead of the new school year were burned, allegedly by pro-independence activists.
Fontem Neba by presidential amnesty. Witnesses and victims told Human Rights Watch in Bamenda, Kumbo, and Kumba that security forces used live ammunitions against largely peaceful protesters and at times shot at demonstrators from helicopters. Security forces arrested at least civilians and killed over 20 between September 22 and October 2, according to Amnesty International. The crisis further escalated when Nigerian authorities arrested Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and at least six of his putative cabinet members during a meeting at the Nera Hotel in Abuja on January 5, On January 22, those men and three dozen other Anglophone activists — a total of 47 — were handed over to the Cameroonian authorities.
On January 29, the Cameroon government acknowledged having custody of the 47 and stated that they would answer for their crimes. Many of these groups have a robust following online and appear to be supported by strong diaspora networks in the US, United Kingdom, Nigeria, and South Africa. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Database ACLED , an independent media monitor, the pace and scale of attacks by armed separatists against security forces, government workers, and state institutions more than doubled in late and continued to increase following the January arrest and deportation of the 47 secessionist activists from Nigeria.
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An independent Cameroonian journalist who has investigated the groups and spoke to Human Rights Watch estimates that between 5 and 20 groups operate in the two regions. It is unclear how these groups are structured and to what degree they coordinate with one another. An independent journalist, a local civil society activist, and three villagers from two different localities told researchers that some groups have a structure at the local level, with village level commanders appearing to report to regional commanders.
The government said that armed separatists have killed over civilians and 84 security forces personnel since the conflict erupted. One of the traders recalled:. In another case, a local civil society activist recounted how she heard from villagers that the armed separatists located in Foe Bakundu executed a man they accused of being an informant in March A private school principal told Human Rights Watch he thought the November strike would only last a few days.
The majority of teacher unions called off their strike in February So there were those who were respecting it out of convictions and others respecting it out of fear that something would happen to their children.
POLITICS AND SCHOOLING IN CAMEROON: Nursey through High School
He was released two days later. The school suspended classes on the day of the abduction. In a video circulated online, Ngomba is seen sitting on the ground outdoors and surrounded by three armed men pointing weapons at his head as he is questioned. A voice off camera says that Ngomba was detained because he is the principal of a functioning school. Both principals were released, Enanga unharmed, Ngomba with machete wounds. Human Rights Watch documented one case in which a teacher was shot in the face in early in the North-West.
She cannot chew, she can only eat soft food. The wound has not healed. In another case documented by Human Rights Watch, Emmanuel Galega, a student, was shot and killed by people believed to be armed separatists who conducted an attack on a high school dormitory in Widikum on March 26, A man who lived in Widikum at the time of the attack told researchers the armed separatists had conducted two attacks against security forces in the weeks that led to the attack on the school.
They went to the school because they had given information [to close the school] by dropping a note two months earlier. They came and went there and started shooting their guns. Ahead of the resumption of the school year in September , media reported that unknown attackers partially burned over half a dozen schools at night. In general, these arson attacks occurred late at night or in the early morning. Claims of responsibility do not appear to have been left at the scene of attacks. However, a media report states that following an arson attack on the Government High School Bafut on May 8, , a note was left calling for no schools to operate.
For example, in one arson attack against the Presbyterian Secondary School Bafut in the early morning of November 1, , three female dormitories for girls were set on fire, and many students lost their belongings in the blaze. And the walls of the dormitories were covered in smoke. The school closed for two weeks after the incident.
The administrator of one partially burned school in August estimated the damage at 5. The aim was to ensure schools would not reopen or that children would not attend during the school year, and the first half of the school year. Sometimes the threats have been general, and at other times directed at individual schools, or at named individual educators. In at least one case documented by Human Rights Watch, one principal told researchers that one evening in December around 11 p.
Presbyterian Education Authority (PEA)
Figure 1. Education officials told Human Rights Watch that printed notices were particularly common in late as some schools prepared to open, or opened, for the academic year. Although the tracts are generally not signed by any individual or group, teachers we spoke with all attributed them to separatist activists. Such threats were often effective. Either because of these threats, or as a show of solidarity by parents and teachers with the separatist cause, or both, school enrollment levels have dropped precipitously during the crisis. A father told researchers that he was keeping his secondary-school-aged daughter at home.
Some students have diverted to vocational trainings, such as in computers, information technology, sewing, and hairdressing. Some worried that the longer students are out of school, the less likely it is they will return. The quality of teaching is also affected. Cameroon has not yet endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, an inter-governmental commitment by countries to better protect students, teachers, schools and universities during times of conflict. Many of its commitments could be relevant to ensure protection of education in the country.
In particular, the Declaration encourages:. In addition, countries that endorse the Safe Schools Declaration commit to use Guidelines on Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict, which contain suggestions on how to minimize the potential negative consequences when security forces are deployed to protect schools that have been threatened with attack. Over a dozen victims and witnesses who spoke to Human Rights Watch described incidents between and where security forces, although equipped with anti-riot gear including shields, helmets, and tear gas, opened fire with live ammunition on demonstrators and bystanders.
Law enforcement officers should, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force. They should resort to the use of force only where such other means are ineffective or without any promise of success. They began to shoot towards me. Video and images captured during the following days show university students who took part in strikes being brutally beaten and abused by security forces who raided the campus, residence halls, and off-campus hostels.
Protesters erected barricades and set government cars on fire. Security force personnel fired on demonstrators with live ammunition.
According to Amnesty International, at least two unarmed protesters were killed that day, and several dozens were arbitrarily arrested, including children. A man shot in the leg on that day told Human Rights Watch that he left the demonstration when he saw that people were throwing rocks and security forces were firing live ammunition. I saw one put a bullet into one guy next to me. He was shot in his chest. So I had to run.
During the wave of protests, government security forces deployed to larger hubs such as Bamenda, Kumba and Buea also used live ammunition against protesters and bystanders, killing at least a dozen civilians and injuring scores, according to Amnesty International and international media reports. A health professional told Human Rights Watch in Kumbo that the hospital where he works received several people wounded by bullets in the run up to the October 1 demonstration as well as on that day.
Most of the other wounded had received bullets in their lower limbs.
On October 1, in Buea, security forces killed two friends in separate incidents: a year-old technologist who had studied in India and Norway and a year-old lawyer and father of two. Their son decided to leave home in the early afternoon to meet with friends as the situation appeared to calm down, and was shot on the street, near his home. Our son was shot three times, in the foot, the stomach and the leg.
The same day, a year-old man with a physical disability was killed by security forces outside his home in Bamenda. He was brought to a mortuary by the police in the early hours of morning, the following day. Human Rights Watch also obtained 27 different written denunciations made to a local non-governmental actor of violent security force abuses during raids of private homes in the North-West region in the days that followed the September 22 and October 1 demonstrations, roughing up people, including women, and destroying TVs, computers, satellite receivers, motorbikes and other property.
On October 1, , two members of the security forces raided a home in the North-West region where two women were hiding. One of them, who spoke to Human Rights Watch, said the men beat them. In the early hours of the following morning, security forces beat a man with an intellectual disability in Kumbo. His friend, who described the event to Human Rights Watch, said that security forces intercepted him on the road and asked him to remove everything from his bag. Security forces then took him to the main gendarmerie station at Tobin but someone realized he had a disability and he was brought to a nearby hospital.
Human Rights Watch documented three cases where security forces detained people suspected of supporting the secessionist cause, and then tortured and killed them in detention. In a fourth case, Human Rights Watch analyzed evidence of torture filmed by perpetrators, who appear to be gendarmes. On January 29, , security forces beat to death year-old Fredoline Afoni, a third year student at the Technical University of Bambili who had returned to Shishong, near Kumbo, to visit his uncle who raised him.
The person told him to come and pick up some luggage at a nearby junction. Sometime later, a vehicle from the security forces passed through the same junction, with Fredoline sitting in the back of the pick-up, naked and handcuffed. A girl saw them and said he was already badly beaten up.
They collected his laptop and cellphone and drove away again. The next day, he was informed that Fredoline had died. The gendarmes had just thrown his corpse outside the mortuary in Jakiri, out there in the open, with no respect. A medical professional who later examined the body told Human Rights Watch that Fredoline had died as a result of being beaten.
They drove for meters and then came back to the shop to pick his phone and laptop. A week later, I went to the mortuary and found him there. The mortuary said that the body had been delivered by a military truck. In a third case various interviewees told Human Rights Watch that in early February , security forces arrested, tortured, and then sliced open the neck of Samuel Chiabah, a year-old father of five popularly known as Sam Soya, in retaliation for the earlier killing of two gendarmes by armed separatists at a checkpoint between Bamenda and Belo.
According to media reports, the day after those killings, security forces raided homes in Belo, some 15 kilometers away from Mbingo, and beat up and arrested residents. A video and photos taken by security forces and analyzed by Human Rights Watch began to circulate on social media showing the interrogation of two men, including Sam Soya, sitting on the floor being questioned about the killing of the two gendarmes.
Sam Soya is heard crying in agony and denying participation in the murders while the other man accuses him of having known about the attack. On May 12, , another video taken by security forces began to circulate online. It showed a suspected armed separatist leader, allegedly named Alphonse Tobonyi Tatia, being subjected to intense beating by men wearing gendarmerie fatigues. As the man lays face to the ground in the mud with his arms handcuffed in the back and his legs immobilized by a chair posed over calves, gendarmes brutally whip his bare feet with the flat side of a machete.
International human rights law absolutely prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Since the beginning of the crisis in November , security forces have arrested hundreds of demonstrators, bystanders, and other civilians suspected of supporting the secessionist agenda, according to international monitors. In one case, civilian detainees accused of violating the curfew were reportedly presented in front of military courts. In one example, on December 8, , a dozen protestors were arrested from the Bamenda hospital, where they had sought refuge from security forces who used live bullets to disperse the crowd.
One of them, a year-old mototaxi driver, described how security forces beat him and the dozen others detained at the time of their arrest, including three children aged between 14 and Then, they started to hit all us with a black stick all over our body. Another former detainee also arrested at the hospital said he arrived at the station with his head bleeding from the beating. There were offices outside. We were joined by another fantastic charity called Ascovime. He and his team work in a government hospital during the week then on Friday evenings they undertake private work to raise funds for medical supplies.
They then travel out to rural communities and perform surgery on people who really need it but have no means of paying or travelling to the cities. This was truly humbling as they do this every week and have treated hundreds of people to date and plan to keep doing it. It was great to have them there and talking to SHUMAS and they have now started building a relationship where they can assist each other in improving rural Cameroon.
Our last day had come around so fast and although some of us were feeling a bit under the weather we were all excited and determined to make the day as full as possible. We headed off to undertake some feasibility studies at four schools in Soa. These schools were all in the same area and made up of a nursery and a mixture of Francophone and Anglophone schools. It was again clear the Anglophone school was in the worst state of repair, but all the schools required some help.
They had no water at this school and the toilet facilities were in an awful state. However as always, the kids were happy and so pleased to greet us with high fives and lots of smiles. In the car journey back to the hotel we discussed with Berri from SHUMAS how we could help as if we provided funds for one school and not the others it would cause riots.
Berri suggested that if they were given a bore hole they would all benefit from the water and that might inspire them to work together to put a joint bid in for help. Once all showered and ready to go Berri gave a little speech and thanked us for coming. This was then followed by the announcement that the Fon of the NKwen tribe wanted to make us Princes and Princess of his tribe. This is a huge honour and it really ended the trip on a high. We were presented with official robes of our new tribe. After one final mad drive across town by taxi we reached the airport.
This may have been the end of our trip, but it felt like the beginning of our new passion for this country and these fantastic charities. Why Sunesis. Meet the Team. Case Studies.