By Nfor Hanson Nchanji
Geneva, Switzerland- Thursday February 7, 2019-1 PM Local Time (Cameroon News Agency) The Executive Director of the Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa, REDHAC, Maximilienne NGO MBE, has said the form of the state must be on the agenda before any dialogue. Speaking on the sidelines of the first international press conference organized on Thursday February 7, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland to end the armed conflict in Southern Cameroons and call for a UN fact finding mission, she said, Ambazonia leaders were kidnapped in Nigeria by the government and illegally extradited to Cameroon, a powerful indicator that the Biya regime cares less about laws and human rights.
Looking at the human rights perspective of the 3-year-old conflict, Mrs Maximilienne said there have been widespread torture, maiming, killing and destruction of properties by Cameroon’s security forces. She recounted that REDHAC was able to document 200 deaths following the September 22 and October 1, 2017 peaceful protests, in which Police used live bullets to kill the marchers. Out of the 200 suspected deaths, the only identified 38.
The human rights defender told the world that Cameroon’s judicial system was fashioned in 2014 with the terrorism law to settle scores with political victims, “It is unfortunate that at the time when we were struggling to see into it that Cameroon abolishes the law, the Anglophone crisis started.” She said.
According to her, death sentence looms over Ambazonia leaders going by the terrorism law.
Cameroon government, she added, has sent out killer squads, BIR, to maim, beat and kill Anglophones, leaving several to go into hiding or forceful disappearance. She recounted that 5 female rights defenders are in hiding in Cameroon.
The Executive Director, Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa, REDHAC, has also revealed that over 2000 Anglophone youths age between 18-25 are currently in jail across the country for taking part in peaceful protests.
She noted that in as much as Ambazonia fighters have picked up arms, thieves have also created fake groups, operating in the name of the fighters.
REDHAC Unveils 3 Proposals To End The Conflict
The Executive Director of the Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa, REDHAC, Maximilienne NGO MBE, told the Press at the Suisse Presse Club, that without dialogue, the war will continue and could escalate into a civil war as the State is instilling hatred between tribes, to create division.
To her, three major solutions could end the crisis;
- Withdrawal of Soldiers: she proposed that soldiers stationed in these areas should immediately be withdrawn so that the fighters can also act in good faith and chance for dialogue. “There cannot be peace if soldiers continue to stay in these areas.” She said.
- UN Mission: she lauded the initiative by the over 12 NGOs to mount pressure on the UN Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding mission with profitable results which could pave way for a clearer understanding.
- Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Referendum, : Her third point was the creation of a truth , justice and reconciliation commission which will look into the form of the State and would be decided on a referendum where people will chose what they want.
She also said, the justice committee will be charged with making sure that crimes committed during the war are documented and violators tried by the International Criminal Court, ICC. The rights defender called on Cameroon government to release all those arrested including over 200 militants of Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, and their leader Maurice Kamto.
Earlier during the press conference, Dabny Yerima of the Southern Cameroon National Council, SCNC, “Restoration of Southern Cameroons is legitimate and defended by the international law,” adding that the Council has done enormous work and stood the test of time to see a free Southern Cameroons.
Julius Nde of the Cameroon Community in Germany, representing Sam Soya Center for Democracy and Human Rights, Europe, and Dr Bernadette Ateghang of Ambazonia International Policy Commission, AIPC, represented their NGOs to add their voices to the call by over 12 renowned International Organizations calling for the UN Human Rights Council to send a team to the war-torn regions.
Closing the conference, Derek Brett from the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, IFOR, said the NGOs should not be too optimistic about the progress of their work but should be rest assured that, it would be slow but steady.
He also enjoined them to work with some member countries especially in the Central African subregion, who will be the ones to mount pressure on the UN Human Rights Council to send a mission to Cameroon.
Two similar press conferences on same issue took place in South Africa and the United States of America.