The US ambassador to Cameroon has accused government forces of abuses in the fight against Anglophone separatists. Militants in the mainly French-speaking nation are seeking independence for two English-speaking regions.
US Ambassador Peter Barlerin on Friday called for dialogue to end an 18-month separatist crisis in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions. The rebels want to turn the areas in the northwest and southwest of the country into an independent nation named Ambazonia.
Barlerin called on both sides of the conflict to stop the violence immediately. He said the month of April had proven the bloodiest so things are not getting better.
“On the side of the government, there have been targeted killings, detentions without access to legal support, family, or the Red Cross, and burning and looting of villages,” Barlerin said in a press statement following a meeting with Cameroon’s President Paul Biya on Thursday. “On the side of the separatists, there have been murders of gendarmes, kidnapping of government officials, and burning of schools. People on both sides of the conflict have engaged in speech that dehumanizes the opposite side.”
As a first step, Barlerin suggested that both sides “stop the violence immediately.”
The unrest began in November 2016, when English-speaking teachers and lawyers in two adjoining regions in Cameroon, called Northwest and Southwest, demanded reforms and greater autonomy. They were frustrated with the dominance of the French language and with what they saw as the marginalization of Cameroon’s Anglophone population. The protests were followed by a harsh government crackdown, as well as internet shutdowns and arrests.
– Titi I VON