Thursday, April 27, 2017

Jailing of Cameroonian journalist Abba 'outrageous'

Ahmed Abba (Picture: Supplied)
Cape Town – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has described the 10-year sentence of a Cameroonian journalist Ahmed Abba on terrorism-related charges as "outrageous," says a report.
According to BBC, Clea Kahn-Sriber from RSF said that Abba, who works for the Hausa Service of Radio France Internationale, had been given an "utterly disproportionate sentence, although the prosecution produced no hard evidence".
"This is a clearly political decision designed to scare all journalists, especially those who might try to cover the security situation in northern Cameroon," Kahn-Sriber was quoted as saying.
Abba was arrested in 2015 over his coverage of attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in northern Cameroon. 
After nearly two years, a military court convicted him of non-denunciation of terrorism and laundering the proceeds of terrorist acts, reports said on Monday.
Cameroon has remained in a protracted battle with Boko Haram since 2014, when the fighters began attacking the government.

Detained for four days
Reports have claimed that Abba and a lot of other journalists were the victims of Cameroon's "war on terror". 
According to News24, three other journalists – Baba Wame, Rodrigue Tongue, and Félix Cyriaque Ebolé Bola – who were arrested in 2014, are also being prosecuted in a military tribunal for failing to disclose information and sources to the government.

The trio were investigating allegations that security forces were assisting an armed group from the Central African Republic which is destabilising Cameroon’s eastern region.
In August 2015, Simon Ateba, a freelance Nigeria-based Cameroonian journalist, was arrested and detained for four days on accusations of espionage, over his investigations into the abysmal conditions of refugees in the far north region
 In April 2014, Denis Nkwebo, the president of Cameroon’s press union, had his car bombed. Nkwebo has received repeated threats for his reporting on Cameroon’s security forces.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cameroon:Activists fleeing for safety

By John chuchu
 A good number of members of Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), a secessionist group that campaigns for the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons from its decades-old union with the Republic of Cameroon, are running helter-skelter, as a crackdown on them is intensifying.
   It would be recalled that on January 17, 2017, the Government of Cameroon not only outlawed the SCNC and the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) and all their activities but also intensified the hunt down of its members, seen as a huge threat to national unity and integration. In deed, Southern Cameroons and CACSC activists are tagged terrorists by the Biya regime.
   Both groups are fighting against the marginalization of minority English-speaking Cameroonians (formerly a UN trust territory, called Southern Cameroon) by majority French-speaking Cameroonian Government.
   The SCNC ban was prompted by the fact that its adherents had taken an undue advantage of the Anglophone teachers’ sit-in protest on November 21, 2016 and staged public demonstrations in Bamenda, which led
 to bloody confrontations between protesters and anti-riot police.
   Over 100 of the activists were reportedly arrested while many others escaped into hiding for their safety.
   But even before the November 21 protests, the arrests and detention of SCNC activists was a routine.
   One of those who escaped from being arrested before the Bamenda mass demonstrations was outspoken SCNC activist Sache Wilson, who served as Assistant Manager of Dream lounge Snack Restaurant, in Molyko- the neighborhood that hosts Cameroon’s first Anglo-Saxon University of Buea.
   Security forces had reportedly raided Dream lounge on several occasions and whisked away customers, alleging that the popular restaurant was used as a venue for planning SCNC meetings. Worthy of note, was an early July 2016 police raid of the restaurant during which police whisked away some customers including Assistant Manager Sache Wilson, as the later was accused of regularly hosting an SCNC meeting there. So suspicious were the police of Sache that they searched his home to see if they could get any documents or materials directly linking him to the SCNC.
    According to Sache’s family, they are living in fear because their son was being hunted by the police.
  “What my brother has gone through in the hands of security agents because of the SCNC struggle is enough and we have decided to help him leave the country like many others for his safety,” Sache’s brother who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. “If you cannot feel free and safe in your own country, it is better you leave for elsewhere”
It is believed that some of those fleeing the country are going to join leading Southern Cameroons’ radical activists on self-exile abroad such as Tasang Wilfred, Tapang Ivo, Mark Bareta and Akoson Raymond, to lobby the West to help in the restoration of the   Independence of Southern Cameroons.
It is public knowledge that many activists continue to be arrested, molested and prosecuted based on Cameroon’s terrorism law, which carries a maximum punishment of the death
  Since the arrest of Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho, President of the CACSC and his Secretary-General Dr. Fontem Neba on January 17, many activists including lawyers and teachers have left the country.
 Anglophones have since then multiplied protests at home and abroad, calling for their independence from their union with La Republique du Cameroun on october1, 1961.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Secessionist Groups Blamed for Cameroon Arson Attacks

People assess the damage in part of a burned down market in Limbe, Cameroon, April 3, 2017. (M.E. Kindzeka/VOA)
Cameroon’s government says secessionist groups in the English-speaking regions have been behind arson attacks on public buildings, most recently a large market in the town of Limbe. The destruction is prompting renewed calls for dialogue to end the five-month strike in the English-speaking areas.
     The fire at Limbe market burned for four hours Saturday. Fifty shops were destroyed.
The governor of the southwest region, Bernard Okalia Bilai, said police arrested a suspect believed to belong to a secessionist group.
   "The suspect has already denounced many of his accomplices, and those who are in a way or another linked to this act of terrorism will be answerable. We want to call the population of the southwest back to peace and I want to reassure the population of Limbe, the administration is there with the forces of law to protect them," Bilai said.
   The fire at Limbe market points to the dangers and the cost of the deepening impasse in Cameroon’s two English-speaking zones.
   Lawyers and teachers in those areas, the northwest and the southwest, have been on strike since November. Most schools in the affected zones remain closed and business is paralyzed. The strikers are demanding reforms to counter what they say is the overwhelming use of French in the bilingual country.
   But while some strikers are demanding a return to federalism, other activists are calling for total independence for the English-speaking zones, ratcheting up tensions and violence.
Several schools, private residences, police stations, administrative buildings have been burned. No one has claimed responsibility.

Need for dialogue
In mid-March, lawmaker Enow Tanjong from the southwest region addressed his fellow senators, stressing a need for dialogue.
   "I would like to point out and castigate the arson that ravaged the Faculty of Medicine of the University in Bamenda and the destruction of the administrative block of the government high school Akwaya. The political elite, religious figures, members of the civil society, traditional rulers have all joined the head of state in appealing for dialogue and peace," Tanjong said.
    Visiting Bamenda in the northwest two weeks ago, Cameroon’s prime minister called the destruction an attempt
   "Government and the strikers should come back to the negotiating table and I think one of the conditions which they are requesting is the release of those who were negotiating with government, who have been caught and brought to Yaounde. Peace has no price. We should be able to have some amnesty, release these people and let schools start," Banadzem said.
    President Paul Biya has on several public outings declared that he is open for dialogue, but that he is not ready to release arrested suspects and that he is not open for any discussions that call into question national unity.
to exert pressure on the government.
    In response, the government has cut internet to the affected zones and made arrests. That includes three community leaders charged in relation to the violent unrest in December. If convicted, they could face the death penalty, according to Cameroon’s 2014 anti-terrorism law.
Negotiations to end the strike fell apart when the state refused the strikers’ demand to release everyone currently detained.
   Lawmaker Joseph Banadzem of the opposition Social Democratic Front is calling for compromise.
 Courtesy VOANEWS