Cameroon: Growing Outrage as another Southern Cameroonian Dies Cuffed to Sick Bed in Military Custody

Mr. Thomas Tangem, a mechanical engineer in the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons reportedly died Wednesday August 5 at the Yaounde central hospital from torture injuries. He died with cuffs to his hand and chained to his sick bed. The circumstances of his death have provoked widespread condemnation and anger among the people, who for four years and counting have been seeking to restore their independence and throw the French Cameroun administration out of their territory.

Mr. Tangem, family sources say, was abducted by French Cameroun soldiers in the Southern Cameroons capital city, Buea in 2017 and taken to Yaounde where he was held incommunicado in a dark underground torture chamber for nearly four years without any charges until his health deteriorated beyond redemption. In the later days of his detention, the mechanical engineer was moved to the Kondengui maximum security prison to wine away and die, some of his inmates told Timescape Magazine.

Over the last weekend, his health situation got worse and the prison administration was forced to take him to the Yaounde central hospital Monday August 3 on the recommendation of the penitentiary establishment’s internal medical team. While at the hospital, eyewitnesses told Timescape Magazine that the frail-looking patient who could not even stand up on his own was handcuffed and chained to his sick bed to the shock and embarrassment of the hospital staff.

Thomas Tangem while he lived

When pictures of the dying political prisoner cuffed and chained to his sick bed were circulated on social media, there was widespread condemnation from several quarters, including from some international rights organizations urging the situation to be addressed. The pressure notwithstanding, the Prisons Superintendent remained unmoved until Mr. Tangem died Wednesday.

His death comes less than three months after journalists in Southern Cameroons went on the rampage to protest the arrest and disappearance of one of their colleagues still in Buea, Samuel Wazizi in August 2019. After so much pressure, military authorities revealed that Wazizi had died at the Yaounde military hospital since August 17, 2019 and claimed, falsely though, that the family had been informed.

A protest by teachers and lawyers and other members of the civil society in 2016 demanding greater autonomy for the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons as a way of protecting their Anglo-Saxon values inherited from British colonial rule turned deadly when the government of President Paul Biya abandoned an ongoing dialogue and resorted to the use of excessive force. The situation escalated into a full-blown armed conflict after Mr. Biya declared at the Yaounde Nsimalen Airport on a trip from Europe that soldiers will overrun the region.