Southern Cameroons Freedom Fighters from Wum: The need for their release 0

On Feb. 8th, 2016, hundreds of youths in Wum in Menchum Division NWR, took to the streets protesting the brutal killing of a young Commercial Bike Rider by a soldier. The said soldier {a francophone} had stabbed the young at about 2am following an argument over a woman. That happened in a liquor bar in central town. The soldier promptly fled. Infuriated, youths seized the slain man’s body from the Wum mortuary and paraded it on the streets for hours and finally dumped it at the military barracks. Things degenerated and soldiers opened fire in the ensuing confrontation. Many were wounded.

In the days and weeks that followed, soldiers and police from Bamenda cracked down on the population taking away scores of young people and the 3rd Class Chief of Waindo in Wum. At least four others were dragged from their sick beds at the Wum General Hospital – against the advice of the doctor in charge. They were all whisked off to Bamenda and demanded in prison custody. Also note that the arrests were typical of the abuses unleashed on UB students last month – breaking into homes, seizing of suspects, smeared in dust and mud; they were beaten and parading half-naked at the Wum Grand Stand and in scorching sun.

Then one night, without warning they were plucked from their prison cells and shipped off to Yaoundé (including a lone pregnant girl prisoner) a relative to the dead Ben Skin Rider. Although the pregnant girl was subsequently released after about three months, nothing has been heard of the rest of the Anglophone Detainees from Wum.

Theirs was clearly a daring resistance to what they described as excesses of French speaking soldiers who frequently acted with impunity, tormenting women, man and bike riders. Their pent up anger exploded and they razed a building at the military barracks and vandalized some military trucks – just like last November’s riots in Bamenda where irate youths burnt down a police station. Southern Cameroonians have resisted the regime and obtained the freedom of several youths arrested in Bamenda and taken to Yaounde. The Consortium has done well to achieve this. Is it too much to ask that this same protest action be directed towards the freedom of the Wum Detainees languishing for one long year now in French speaking Yaounde?

The only difference between the Wum Youths and their Bamenda compatriots is the dates of their respective protests or resistance activities. But their motives were definitely the same. The Wum Youths should be honoured for standing up to the brutality of the regime even at a time when the current nationalist momentum was absent. Justice that is good for the Bamenda youths is also good for the Wum and Kumba youths still being held in Kondengui – far away from their home. At best they should simply be freed.

At worst, they should be brought back to their region where (if they must), undergo trial in Bamenda or Wum where the military court can also seat . This way, they will be near their relatives who would easily support their welfare behind bars. So shall we abandon the Wum Youths? Kai!! May our consciences deprive us of good sleep if we do.  Dear Consortium Members, did you hear my plea? Did the Hon. Wirba not tell us this is a DUTY?

Randy Joe Sa’ah