Jun 2018

Even if by the nature of things Cameroonians seem to be accustomed, unfortunately, to the unsustainable images of soldiers killed, beheaded …, young people killed and abandoned in the wild, hostages taken for the purpose of blackmail, burning of schools, etc., they were upset by the horrors committed on the night of May 25, 2018 in Menka, the martyr village of the Mezam division in the North-West.

Given the exceptional seriousness of the situation, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) has chosen to wait for the explanations of the Government before making any statement. In addition to the release of the Army spokesman published on May 25 on social networks, on Tuesday, May 29, the Minister of Communication and Government spokesperson spoke during a special press conference broadcast on public television (CRTV).

These atrocious images took us back to the tragic history of our country, more precisely in the events of the war against the nationalists led on the eve and after the Cameroon independence and modestly called “pacification” operation.

Indeed, since the outbreak of the Anglophone crisis, dozens of young Cameroonians, men and women, have been killed, in the name of a total war declared by President Paul BIYA, on November 30, 2017, on the tarmac of the N’Simalen Airport, following the savage killing of six soldiers and policemen by secessionists in Mamfe, in the South-West Region. It will be remembered that, informed of these crimes, the Head of State declared, as he stepped off the plane: “All the arrangements are made to incapacitate these criminals and to make sure that peace and security are safeguarded throughout the national territory.” And in his wake, the Minister of Defence explained: “When the Head of State makes a political decision like this [eradicate separatist fighters], we will implement it without mercy.”

After the horrors of Menka were made public, the spokesman for the Army made a statement that suggests it was our defence forces that produced the macabre death toll of May 25 in this village near Santa. In addition, on May 29, during a dedicated press conference, the Minister of Communication and Government Spokesperson dispelled any ambiguity, not, alas! on the circumstances of the horrors committed, but on the fact that the victims of these atrocities were slaughtered by the Army. More seriously, the Government Spokesperson warned Cameroonians that if those who took up arms against their homeland did not lay them down, and without conditions, it would unfortunately be necessary to expect to see again other horrible scenes like those of Menka!

It can be seen, with horror, that the position of the power, in this case the Head of State, head of the Armed Forces and the Minister Delegate in charge of defence, seems to have removed from the National Army any obligation of moral competence and respect for the rules of the law of armed conflict in the conduct of this dirty war.

The first explanations given by the Army spokesperson about this butchery are puzzling and in many ways unsatisfactory. It is the same with those given in a surprisingly relaxed way by the Government Spokesman on the national television (CRTV), in the evening of Tuesday, May 29.

Also, the Head of State, Head of the Army must clarify, without delay, the exact circumstances of this tragedy. He owes it to the Cameroonian people. These events unfortunately reinforce the position of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) and many other national and international actors that the use of armed force is not the appropriate solution to the Anglophone crisis. From the beginning, the CRM tried to discourage the power to engage the country in an adventure. Alas! in vain. In addition to the explanation expected by the nation, the Head of State must order a serious investigation into this event that plunges families into mourning and sadly puts our country back in the hot seat.

It is therefore in the interest of the Government to shed light on the Menka massacres, which occur while some friends of Cameroon – though present on its side in the fight against the Boka Haram sect – after unambiguously condemning the intolerable terrorist acts of the secessionists, publicly denounced “targeted killings” committed by security forces in the English-speaking regions in crisis. Its credibility, both nationally and internationally, depends on it.

The serious comments of the Government Spokesman, which were intended perhaps to compel the surrender of Cameroonians at odds with the Republic, are deeply worrying for mothers, wives, children, fathers, brothers and sisters of elements of the defence forces at the battlefront, State agents who work there, but also the populations taken hostage by the intransigence of both parties.

It has been said that war is merely the continuation of politics by other means. However, in the civil war ravaging the North-West and South-West regions, the government started the war to put an end to politics. Given the disastrous situation facing our country now, it is imperative that the political aspect resume its place in this devastating crisis, through the urgent organisation of an inclusive and patriotic dialogue that the CRM and now all Cameroonian political forces and civil society are calling for.

In the context of the bloody crisis that is shaking the North-West and South-West Regions, the Military Court of Yaoundé inflicted heavy penalties on Mancho Bibixy, known as BBC, and his companions in misfortune, declared “guilty of acts of terrorism, hostility against the fatherland, secession, revolution and insurrection.”

This heavy sentence has a political character. It is to be remembered that the serious abuses committed in Buea, especially on young women students, at the very beginning of the crisis by elements of the identifiable defence and security forces, constitute one of the elements of the radicalisation of the protesters in this crisis, which persists nearly two years after its break-up, and despite the country’s tipping into civil war in the regions concerned, none of these elements of the defence and security forces has yet been worried by justice.

The perpetrating of the Menka massacres on the night of the day Mancho Bibixy and his companions in misfortune were inflicted heavy penalties by the Military Court of Yaoundé, is ample demonstration that the repression will not be enough to bring peace in our country.

Like all honest Cameroonians, CRM militants and sympathisers, who passionately love their country, are against any separatist project. They condemn the cowardly attacks on the soldiers who courageously fulfil their duty of securing the populations; at the same time, they condemn just as firmly the killings of civilians whose involvement in the fighting is not proven, the collective punishment carried out “without mercy” by the Army. They call for an immediate end to the war in English-speaking areas. There has been too much bloodshed! The dialogue cannot be deferred.

The CRM National President

Maurice KAMTO

Yaounde, June 7th, 2018