January 21, 2017
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the United Socialist Democratic Party has since November 2016 been shocked by images, videos and photos of the brutal attack and torture of peaceful protesters in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon by government forces, and the recent arrest of Trade Union leaders Barrister Felix A. Nkongho, Dr. Fontem Neba and activist Mr. Mancho B. As we write to you, we are reliably informed that the Secretary General of the Teacher’s Trade Union, Mr. Wilfred Tassang is taking refuge at a foreign Embassy in Yaounde.
We are well aware of the attempts made by the Inter-Ministerial Committee to resolve the crisis. However, after failed negotiations with the leaders of the CONSORTIUM representing the Teachers and Lawyers the Biya government described the union leaders as extremists/secessionists, and through the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization the government declared the trade union illegal and banned its activities on January 16, 2016. How can the government ban and declare illegal the very organization with which it has held four peaceful dialogues meetings? The ban on the CONSORTIUM has been followed by arbitrary mass arrests of union leaders, members and citizens, and the heavy militarization of the North West and South West Regions.
The USDP NEC strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary arrest of Anglophone opinion leaders. Mr. Biya has abandoned the nation in the hands of a military junta which justifies arrest by charging trade union leaders, activists, political leaders, and citizens with outrageous crimes against the state. Even children have not been spared as we are reliably informed that the 7 year old child of Dr. Abangma has been arrested alongside the Caregiver because law enforcement agents did not meet Dr. Abangma whom they intended to arrest without a warrant. As confirmed by a verified letter from the Director of CAMTEL to the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, on January 17, 2017, the Biya administration ordered the disruption of internet and telecommunication services in the North and South West Regions. This is in additional to an informal ban on international wire/money transfer and the operation of the banking system in Anglophone regions.
Based on verified videos of law enforcement officials forcing students to drop-and-roll and drink water from wastewater/sewer systems in Buea; of law enforcement officers violently beating and brutalizing innocent citizens; of military water cannons spraying student hostels in Bamenda; of law enforcement officers using tear-gas on peaceful protesters, and of law enforcement officers using live ammunition and killing unarmed protesters, we are profoundly concerned that there is a humanitarian imperative arising from the brutal attack on civilians. This is not only profoundly disturbing but is appalling to millions of people all over the world.
The NEC fervidly denounces Cameroon government’s continuous use of repressive and oppressive means to violate the people’s rights through military brutality, killing, arbitrary arrests and detention of citizens exercising their human rights. We are deeply concerned that if the international community fails to take immediate and decisive measures against the murderous and repressive actions of the Biya administration more lives will be lost, more women will suffer rape, more children will be exposed to violence, and more people will be subjected to torture with the possibility of increasing violence in this part of the world.
The NEC further condemns all violations of human rights, and demand the unconditional release of the CONSORTIUM leaders and other people arrested in relation to the Anglophone struggle. While we continue to entreat the people of Anglophone Cameroon to remain peaceful and non-violent in exercising their right to protest, we are strongly convinced that it is time for the International Community to condemn the acts of brutality and arbitrary arrest and to hold the Mr. Biya regime accountable for its actions.
The international community cannot afford to remain silent or make press releases in the face of increasing violation of human rights and freedoms. The international community has a moral obligation to impinge upon the Biya regime to stop the killing, and oppressive attacks on unarmed citizens before humanity records another incident of genocide.
Prince Michael Ngwese Ekosso
National President, USDP