24, August 2018
As fighting intensifies in the British Southern Cameroons between forces loyal to the ruling French Cameroun government in Yaoundé and English speaking separatists, the death toll is rising disturbingly. The international community has called for calm and restraint from both sides. Cameroon Concord News undercover reporters in Manyu County uncovered an ugly and distressing side to this conflict. According to the United Nations, more than 50,000 Southern Cameroonians are now living in neighbouring Nigeria. We can now reveal that the number of internally displaced persons has tripled. Some 172 villages have been burnt down by Cameroon government forces. Correspondingly, human rights abuses have been reportedly committed by both sides in this horrid conflict.
We were led to Kendem, Egbekaw, Tali, Ossing and many villages in the Manyu County. We saw houses that have been burnt and empty villages that were once vibrant. Kembong which was thriving is now a ghost village. Many of the people we encountered in the villages that still had inhabitants were old and disabled. Firstly the villagers we encountered were scared of talking to us for fear of being arrested or killed. All young men and women have fled and are either living in the forest permanently or have joined the local militia, the Amba Freedom Fighters. Since the conflict began in October 2016, when English speaking secessionists declared independence from French Cameroun, thousands of young men and women have joined the local militia, Amba Freedom Fighters, to defend their homeland which they now call Ambazonia.
On our visit to a deserted village called Ossing, we met a lady called Sophie who took us around to show where their family home was once situated. She explained to us that the military, came in one night in June. It was terrifying she said. Apparently information had filtered to the gendarmerie in Mamfe that her cousin Mbi Louis Tabi was a leading Ambazonian fundraiser in the diaspora. Sophie hinted that when her uncle explained to the Francophone soldiers that he had no knowledge of his son’s actions, he was brutally beaten and left with broken bones and a fractured skull. With tears and a quavering voice, she said her uncle, Mr Mbi Ayuketang died three days after the assault from his injuries on the 22nd of June 2018. The gendarmes looted the house and before they left, burnt it down.
As we moved around many villages, we found these dreadful stories and experiences commonplace. We spoke to a member of the local police unit in Mamfe the chief town in the Manyu County. He sued for anonymity and revealed that they have orders from Yaoundé to stop the secession movement by Ambazonians using any means necessary. We raised the issue of the attack on Ossing village and the killing of Mbi Ayuketang. The Anglophone police officer said he was at Ossing that night. He explained that the late Mbi’s son, Mbi Louis Tabi, who lives in China was responsible for raising funds in the diaspora and funding the ongoing war. He further pointed out that the families of Ambazonians living in the diaspora and supporting the struggle were now a target.
Ever since the leader of the movement for independence, Sisiku Julius Ayuk-Tabe and his entire cabinet were abducted in Nigeria on January 2018 and deported to Cameroun, the conflict has taken a dramatic u turn with attacks and counter attacks. The disturbing veracity is that this conflict, which is under reported in the western media is spiralling out of control and the human rights abuses we witnessed is tantamount to genocide.
This item is still developing as Rita Akana will be looking at how the war has ravaged the local economy with no end in sight.