1, May 2018
Amid the worsening crackdown by the army of 36-year Cameroon president Paul Biya in the country’s Anglophone areas, a video has circulated depicting soldiers burning down homes. The Cameroon government army had blue helmet of the type used by UN peacekeepers. On April 30 Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the video, the day after publishing a story about it, in Google News. Dujarric said he hadn’t seen the video but militaries should not use UN equipment or colors, presumably when burning civilians homes down.
Inner City Press: a video emerged over the weekend from Cameroon showing or depicting soldiers burning people’s homes in the Anglophone areas, and what… what a lot of people focused on is that one of them, at least, is wearing a blue helmet. I don’t think it means the UN is doing it, but I do wonder, what are the rules? I wanted to ask you, what are the rules if people have served in UN peacekeeping missions… have you seen the video?
Spokesman: “I haven’t seen that particular video, so I can’t comment on the particular helmet, whether it was just blue or a UN helmet. We have seen, in different parts of the world, various security forces and army… we’ve seen reports of them using equipment that they own, which had been painted white or blue and reused domestically. It is a responsibility to ensure that no equipment that has UN markings is ever used in any domestic operation. But, again, I’m not… that’s a matter… that’s an issue of principle. I haven’t… I can’t comment on that specific report.” Hours later, still nothing.
The lack of confidence in the UN in these areas, and on this issue, was inflamed as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in October 2017 stopped by Yaounde on his way from the Central African Republic (where the UN pays Biya’s government for peacekeepers who have been charged with sexual abuse). Guterres did not meet with any opposition figures, and accepted a golden statue from Biya.
Guterres’ envoy Francois Lounceny Fall has publicly said that secessionist are extremists, the word used by Biya to justify the scorched earth strategy exemplified by the video. Inner City Press asked UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zaid why his Office hasn’t updated the death figures and he claimed it was because the UN has no access.
Guterres’ humanitarian Assistant Secretary General Ursula Mueller visited Cameroon, but not the Anglophone areas. Human Rights Watch didn’t even include Cameroon in its 2018 “World Report,” and told Inner City Press this is because it does not view it as among the 90 most serious problems in the world.
Guterres’ Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed was in Abuja in her native Nigeria when 47 Cameroonians were illegally sent back by the Buhari government. Buhari was in Washington on April 30 and a protest of Ambazonians planned. Earlier in April, Inner City Press asked the US State Department about the refoulement to Cameroon and received a day later a statement. But what will happen on this video, and on the underlying issues?
Culled from Inner City Press