Human Rights Watch’s Recent Report on the ongoing Genocide in Southern Cameroons Attracts Mixed Feelings

Human Rights Watch has published another report about the human rights situation about the massive violations being committed by the Cameroon armed forces against unarmed civilians in the once Independent State of Southern Cameroons. The armed conflict that has slide into a genocide with over 12,000 people killed.

The report released Monday July 27 estimates that “at least 285 civilians have been killed in about 190 incidents since January 2020 in the North-West and South-West regions, where violence has been acute since late 2016, as separatists seek independence for the country’s minority Anglophone regions.”

“We have documented an increase in violence in the Anglophone regions since mid- May, particularly by armed separatist groups who have killed several civilians and amongst those they targeted were a teacher accused of not complying with separatist demand to boycott education, and also a community health worker supported by Doctors Without Borders. Government forces have also been responsible for recent abuses and we have documented a raid in the hospital in the northwest and the arbitrary arrest of health workers in the South West,” Illeria Allegrozzi, senior researcher for the rights organization told Timescape Magazine.

The Cameroon Military has dismissed the report as false, that it is killing civilians in the on-going genocide in the once Independent State of Southern Cameroons. Pro-independence self-defense volunteers seeking to restore the statehood of Southern Cameroons were also indicted for of killing at least six civilians, including a humanitarian worker and a teacher, since May 2020.  

The report accuses the military of attacking health facilities in the North West and arbitrarily arresting seven health workers in the South-West.

In defense of the military, the Spokesperson for the Cameroun Defense Ministry, Commander Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo says Human Rights Watch is on a campaign to tarnish the image of Cameroun.

“Once again, an attack comes from a so-called nongovernmental organization, which depends on foreign powers that has made it become the humanitarian Trojan horse… Always faithful to its logic of demolition of the image of Cameroon,” Atongfack said in a statement.

Meantime, the Secretary General of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (renamed Southern Cameroons Civil Society Consortium) CACSC, Goefred Andang told Timescape that “We are still at a loss as to why these international organizations continue to place a trained and well-armed army, generally known for its brutality and unprofessional attitude at pars with self-defense volunteers just defending themselves from aggression with locally made weapons. This is unacceptable, the world needs to be serious about calling this genocide for what it is. What is even more, these organizations continue to minimize the number of deaths, which by now is well over 25,000 according to local tallies, just to undermine the magnitude of the humanitarian disaster”.

The fighting now in its fourth year has left more than 3,000 (over 12,000 according to several other sources) people dead according to several sources and over a million forced from their homes, according to Human Rights Watch.

What started as a strike by Lawyers and teachers in the once Independent State of Southern Cameroons over the use of French in schools and courts there, soon degenerated into open conflict, as the government took a hardline.

Southern Cameroonians, initially demanding recognition as an entity with a culture, are now calling for what they call the full-blown restoration of the statehood of the Southern Cameroons.

With 20% of Cameroun’s approximately 25 million people, the once Independent State of Southern Cameroons is the territory colonized by Britain under UN Trusteeship, but which, at independence, voted in a plebiscite to reunite with the part of the country colonized by France in a federation of two states equal in status.