Cameroon: Renown Artiste Richard Bona wants killer soldiers in Ngarbuh Massacre tried at ICC
Cameroonian singer, Richard Bona has joined the rising community of voices calling for justice to be served to victims of the Ngarbuh massacre in the once independent state of Southern Cameroons.
On February 14, government forces from the mainly Francophone administration in Yaounde and armed ethnic Fulani killed at least 21 civilians, including 13 children and a pregnant woman, in Ngarbuh in the troubled English-Speaking region.
The government of Mr. Paul Biya initially denied that soldiers were involved in the killings, but on April 22, it released findings of an investigation into the killings that blamed its soldiers for the massacre.
But there is rising concern that the killers will not be adequately punished by Cameroon’s dysfunctional judiciary system, and the victims will not be given justice.
Singer Richard Bona is now calling for the accused to be tried at the International Criminal Court.
In a wide-ranging interview on BBC Afrique on June 1, the Singer said the Cameroon government was not coming down hard on the killers.
"This violence must stop,” he said.
“You can't kill children like that in Africa anymore. Those responsible must at some point be brought before an International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. We don't take the lives of human beings like that," he said.
Some of the Victims, Mainly Children Killed by Cameroun Soldiers in Ngarbuh
The Singer was being interviewed because he had on May 9 composed a song in honor of the victims. He said 50% of the proceeds from the song will be given to the families of the victims of the Ngarbuh massacre.
"When this kind of event happens, and when we have a government that is still in denial and lies, because the Cameroonian authorities had initially denied the accusations about the involvement of the soldiers in this massacre, to the point where we saw the Minister of Communication go there, and say that there were no 23 deaths in Ngarbuh outright. It is this denial that hurts the most. 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is clear that authoritarian regimes have not yet disappeared. Cameroon is proof that these authoritarian regimes are still there, of course with the support of France", Bona blurted.
President Paul Biya had already ordered that the soldiers should be arrested, but ever since; no one knows what has happened to them.
Instead, government says it is constructing a military base in Ngarbuh-a move that is not sinking well with rights defenders and the local populations who have been fleeing the locality in droves, fearful that there could be more military exactions.
The National President of the United Socialist Democratic Party, Prince Ekosso says the military presence in the village is uncalled for.
"Why establish a military base in Ngarrbuh, where the military has been accused of massacring civilians, children, women, pregnant women," he said.
"We are calling on the government to stop the initiative of establishing a military base in Ngarbuh. And we call on the international community to put their eyes [pay attention] on this particular situation in Ngarbuh. The use of force has never resolved any conflict," he warned.
The US Secretary of State in Charge of African Affairs, Tibor Nagy has called on Cameroonian authorities to follow through with the measures announced in the wake of the government report, including punishing perpetrators and exhuming the corpses for befitting burials.
“Government killing of civilians in Cameroon is inexcusable. I urge follow-through on Ngarbuh investigation and many other incidents of this nature,” Tibor Nagy wrote in a tweet.
The military has since 2017 been fighting against pro-independence movements in the once independent territory of Southern Cameroons who say they want to restore the independence of their country and rename it “Ambazonia”.
What initially started as teachers’ and lawyers’ strikes over perceived attempts by the government to destroy the Common Law and Anglo-Saxon education systems practiced in English-Speaking Cameroon soon degenerated into open conflict when the government decided to respond with lethal force.
The conflict, now in its fourth year has left at least 5000 people dead and more than one million forced from their homes.