2, October 2016
Remember how Nazi German troops tugged Jews into trains and shipped them off to death camps in Auschwitz? That is exactly how 19 young people from Wum in Menchum Division were snatched from prison cells in Bamenda and bused under military escort to Yaoundé under the cover of darkness, ordered by a military judge. They have since been languishing in the notorious Kondengui prison, which in reality is a death camp with killers TB, HIV AIDS, hunger, AIDS, homosexuality, and water borne diseases reigning supreme.
The Jews never knew why they were ever taken to Auschwitz, neither do the 18 Wum boys and one pregnant girl know why they were whisked away like war captives, from their home Northwest Region to far away Yaoundé. It is mind bugling to understand why the government would sanction such a transfer of suspects from the Bamenda highlands whereas there exist competent military courts with jurisdiction in Wum and Bamenda where they allegedly committed the crime – razing of a military barrack in Wum following riots triggered by the stabbing of a moto taxi driver by a soldier in a liquor bar. We ask, in whose interest has the military justice transferred the suspects from Bamenda to Yaoundé? Clearly it is not in the interest of justice. It is not even in the interest of the governing francophone elite of this country? The holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Ellie Wiesel asked this same rhetorical question – in whose interest was the holocaust? It was not even in the interest of the Germans.
The separatist SCNC (Southern Cameroons National Council) and SOCALIM (Southern Cameroons Liberation Movement) describe the move as an act by the occupation forces of La Republique du Cameroun on a captured territory of Southern Cameroons. Is this not the same heavy handed acts that fuels Anglophone Cameroonian anger and frustrations in this marriage of convenience between the two Cameroons? How can the regime explain the displacement of people from one part of the country to be tried for a crime they committed in another part of the country where the judicial institutions exist? What explains this insensitivity to the feelings and cries of the people west of the mungo? Haven’t their brothers east of the Mungo read Prof. John Nkengong Nkengason’s “Across The Mungolo?”
Well, to the former, the transfer of the Wum detainees to the Yaoundé Kondengui concentration camp remains to this day, a source of shock and astonishment. We salute the opposition SDF legislators for taking up this matter with the interior minister, Prof Rene Sadi. They confronted him with two crucial issues on their plate: The mystery of transferring suspects to Yaoundé and the land grabbing ventures of the rich and influential Francophone Africa’s billionaire, Baba Danpullo. The latter has been tussling with the people of Esu, a rural farming community in Menchum who would not surrender their land to the billionaire cattle and horse ranch owner who despite 31 years of business on Esu soil, they people say he boast of employing the sons and daughters of that peasant community.
The traditional ruler of Esu and several youths of his kingdom are now frequent guests to Bamenda where judicial officers are endlessly grilling them for a matter that could jolly well be handled by the ecurity department and courts in Wum. That again is another puzzle. Minister Rene Sadi has promised to delve into the matter. So too for the Wum detainees in Kondengui. Yet the interior minister claims he was not aware the Wum youths were transferred to Kondengui. Who can believe him?
The SDF parliamentary group leader, Joseph Banadzem told the BBC that the minister spoke candidly. But it remains to be seen how much action he would take to uphold social justice in the case. The detainees include a pregnant lady who now has no possibility to ensure the health of her unborn child by attending ante natal clinic. If Minister Sadi is unaware of her case, can his colleagues of justice and defense ministries feign the same ignorance? Are they blind to the banner headlines on newspapers on the matter? He must however be aware that this is not the first time Anglophones are being carted to Yaoundé for military court trials. It happened to former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Nyoh Wakai (late); SCNC chairman Nfor Ngala Nfor and several other champions of democracy and Anglophone nationalism. Many of them survived the harsh environment in Kondengui, but some died. Some came out of jail, eaten up by diseases and too weak to live.
Nazi holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel survived the death camp when the Russian Red Army liberated them in 1945. He lived on to write 50 books detailing the evil man did to man in the camps. He was just 15 years old – like many of the Wum detainees – when he and his father and other relatives were taken away in smoky trains. The Wum detainees are in great difficulty, their families unable to bring them food and comfort. At least one of them is now allowing interested male inmates to despoil his flesh as he put it, just to keep body and soul together. Their human rights to fair justice and feeding are being abused. They are being heard by a military investigating magistrate and affording a lawyer is too much a luxury. Yet many of them are in high spirit. Like Elie Wiesel they must keep the will to survive and wait in joyful hope for the day the prison gates will be flung open for them to walk through.
By Randy Joe Sa’ah