15, June 2018
Cameroon has accused Amnesty International of disseminating “crude lies” after it said security forces had committed summary killings, arrests and property destruction to try to crush a separatist insurgency.
The report “is stuffed with crude lies, hasty deductions (and) slanderous, unacceptable manoeuvering, which are part of a strategy of harassment and destabilisation of our country in its fight against the terrorist threat,” Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said.
The government “rejects this supposed report with the greatest firmness,” he said in a statement received on Friday.
In a 37-page report, Amnesty said it had catalogued “unlawful killings, destruction of private property, arbitrary arrests and torture” by the security forces in two restive regions of the West African country.
The unrest is unfolding in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, home to most of Cameroon’s English-speaking minority, which account for about a fifth of a population of 22 million.
Years of resentment at perceived discrimination at the hands of the country’s French-speaking majority culminated in protests in October and November 2016, which escalated in the face of a government refusal to make concessions.
In late 2017, violence surged after radicals declared an independent state — an entity named Ambazonia that has not been recognised internationally — and launched an armed campaign, which met with a crackdown.
Amnesty said it had conducted interviews with more than 150 victims of, or eyewitnesses to, violence committed either by the security forces or by separatists.
While accusing government forces of abuses, it also said separatists had killed “at least” 44 members of the security forces, and also targeted ordinary people, including traditional chiefs, whom they suspected to be informants.