Cameroon English-speaking areas alert after deadly protests

2017-10-02 18:36
Cameroon police officials walk with riot shields on a street in the administrative quarter of Buea some 60kms west of Douala. (AFP)

Cameroon police officials walk with riot shields on a street in the administrative quarter of Buea some 60kms west of Douala. (AFP)

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Dakar - Cameroon's military is heavily deployed in the country's English-speaking regions and few people are on the streets after several people were killed over the weekend in protests in support of independence for some Anglophone regions.

Scores of thousands of English-speaking Cameroonians hoisted flags on Sunday to show they want independence from the country's French-speaking majority, defying security forces and bans for gathering in some areas.

Security forces shot dead several people in Cameroon during gatherings on the 56th anniversary of the incorporation of Anglophone regions into Cameroon, according to Amnesty International. The group expressed worry over the government's "on-going campaign to silence any form of dissent in the West and South-West regions of Cameroon." The Northwest province on Friday banned meetings and travel for 72 hours.

The rights group called on security forces to cease unnecessary violence and called on protesters to be peaceful.

At least a dozen people were killed in the English-speaking northwest and southwest regions, some shot by military helicopters, while at least 40 others were arrested, according to local media. Six soldiers were attacked and severely wounded, reports said.

No declarations were made by separatists, but protests have been ongoing since late last year with the country's English-speaking population saying it is discriminated against by the majority French-speaking population.

Social media platforms such as Whatsapp have been blocked in the English-speaking regions and residents express fear about restrictions imposed by the government.

In Yaounde and all major towns in the French-speaking regions, political parties, law makers and the government organized rallies denouncing the separatist groups.

Lawmaker Tabe Tando from Cameroon's English-speaking southwest region read a declaration in a mass rally organized by Cameroon's senate and national assembly in Yaounde.

"The members of parliament condemn outright any action aimed at destabilizing our beloved and beautiful country. Reaffirm their attachment to a Cameroon which is one and indivisible as enshrined in the constitution. Express their brotherly solidarity to the populations of the northwest and southwest regions, victims of the unscrupulous acts of enemies of the fatherland and peace," it said.

Some experts called for dialogue to avoid ongoing tensions.

Schools have been closed in the English-speaking northwest and southwest since November when lawyers and teachers called for a strike to stop what they believe is the overuse of the French language. Violence erupted when separatist joined in and started asking for complete independence.

President Paul Biya has made clear he is not open for any negotiations on separate states.

Read more on:    amnesty international  |  cameroon  |  west africa

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