from ROSY SADOU in Yaoundé, Cameroon
YAOUNDE – ARMED separatists agitating for the independence of English-speaking regions from Cameroon have reportedly killed at least 44 security forces members since the onset of violence in 2016.
Human rights groups said in turn, security personnel had tortured at least 23 civilians, including minors, to extract confessions.
The separatists have allegedly stabbed to death and shot military personnel, burned down schools and attacked teachers while security forces have tortured people, fired on crowds and destroyed villages as violence gets deadlier.
Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Deputy Director for West and Central Africa, said people in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions were in the grip of a deadly cycle of violence.
Daoud said militant separatists had besides killing dozens of members of security forces, carried out attacks designed to strike fear among the population, burning down schools and targeting teachers who did not enforce the boycott.
Over 40 schools have been attacked.
Daoud said security forces’ heavy-handed response, which had displaced thousands, would worsen the crisis.
“It is likely to further alienate Anglophone communities and fuel further unrest,” he said.
The English-speaking regions in the south-west and north-west make up approximately 20 percent of the country’s population of 24 million.
Violence and unrest escalated in 2016 after strikes and protests against what teachers, lawyers and students viewed as discrimination by the government dominated by French-speaking Cameroonians.
Daoud called for accountability for crimes committed by security forces and separatists.
“Authorities must immediately end the use of unlawful, unnecessary and excessive force and ensure that people are protected.”
– CAJ News