Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Press Freedom : Committee to Protect Journalists,CPJ, Wants Cameroon to Account for 8 Detained Journalists


The International independent press freedom advocacy organization, the Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, is demanding explanations from the Cameroon government in relation to the detention of at least eight Cameroonian journalists.


In a statement issued on march 1 2017, the CPJ wants the Minister of Communication to explain reasons for the detention of Atia Azohnwi, Amos Fofung, Thomas Awah Junior, Mfor Ndong, Hans Achumba, Tim Finnian, Jean Claude Agbortem, and Medjo Lewis, imprisoned for their work as journalists.


The CPJ also raised concerns as to why the Cameroon’s Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma earlier claimed there was no Cameroonian journalist in detention.  

The CPJ buttresses its observation about the detention of journalists, with the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedom’s 2017 report which confirmed the jailing of some media practitioners.

Below is  full CPJ request for clarification from the Cameroon government...



CPJ requests information On Jailed Cameroonian Journalists




March 1, 2017
Issa Tchiroma Bakary
Minister of Communication
Hotel de Ville
Yaoundé
Via fax: +237 222 23 30 22;
Your Excellency,
We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent press freedom advocacy organization, are concerned about compounding reports of measures to restrict the media in Cameroon, and request clarification regarding the reported imprisonment of at least eight journalists in the country.
During our conversation on February 15, you told us that Cameroon's government was "completely transparent" and that "people can speak their mind." You further said no journalist was in prison in Cameroon and that journalists should not "pretend to be arrested for their work." You requested that we forward you a list of detained journalists. We did this privately the same day and repeatedly but unsuccessfully attempted to follow up with you directly.
L-R: POLICE BOSS and MINISTER TCHIROMA 
On February 20, the National Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF), an official body, confirmed the detention of at least five journalists. Since then we have heard reports of at least three other journalists jailed in Cameroon. 
We therefore request your assistance in reconciling your contention that no journalists are jailed in Cameroon with the conclusions of NCHRF, and request clarification on the location of the following journalists, any criminal charges against them, what alleged activities gave rise to those charges, and the status of any criminal proceedings against them:
·         Atia Azohnwi, a journalist with The Sun newspaper and the Buea head of the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists, whom security forces arrested with Amos Fofung on February 9, 2017, in Molyko, according to the NCHRF. According to a statement published on The Sun's Facebook page, security forces took Azohnwi, The Sun's political desk editor, to the Molyko precinct and then to the Judicial Police in Buea, before transferring him to the Judicial Police station in Yaoundé.

·         Amos Fofung, Buea bureau chief of The Guardian Post, whom security forces arrested with Atia Azohnwi on February 9, 2017, in Molyko, according to the NCHRF. According to The Sun's Facebook page, police first held him in Molyko before transferring him to the Judicial Police station in Buea, and then in Yaoundé.
·         Thomas Awah Junior, a journalist for and publisher of the monthly Aghem Messenger magazine, whom police arrested in Bamenda on January 2, was transferred to Yaoundé that evening before being sent to Kondengui Central prison two weeks later, a Yaoundé based Cameroonian journalist told CPJ, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Awah Junior remains in Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé according to a Yaoundé Military Tribunal document published by Cameroonian blogger Albert Nchinda.
·         Mfor Ndong, publisher of the Bamenda-based newspaper Voice of the Voiceless, whom security forces arrested in Buea on February 9, 2017, according to the NCHRF.
ATIA : DETAINED FOR HIS WORK

     Hans Achumba, a journalist for Jakiri Community Radio in the Bui Division of the Northwest Region of Cameroon, whom police arrested on allegations of spreading opposition lawmaker Joseph Wirba's calls to resist the government in Yaoundé, according to the NCHRF. Achumba remains in Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé, according to the Yaoundé Military Tribunal document and a Cameroonian journalist who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, for fear of retribution.
·         Tim Finnian, publisher of Life Time newspaper, whom security forces arrested on January 27, 2017, three days after he published an article alleging two English-speaking youths had died in state custody, according to an English-language Cameroonian newspaper The Star. He too has been transferred to Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé, according to the same military court document and additional Cameroonian journalists who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, for fear of retribution.
·         Jean Claude Agbortem, co-founder of the online magazine Camer Veritas, whom police arrested on January 28, 2017, according to Nchinda.
·         Medjo Lewiseditor of La Détente Libre, whom police arrested on February 22, 2017, and whom the Bafoussam High Court sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of 10 million Central African francs (US $16,131) for defamation, according to two Cameroonian journalists who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, for fear of retribution.
In recent months, the government has taken increasingly drastic steps to suppress the rights to transmit and receive information in Cameroon, particularly in predominantly Anglophone regions. Media outlets have been suspended, and journalists have been banned from practicing their craft, according to CPJ research. The internet has been inaccessible to residents of the northwestern and southwestern regions of Cameroon since January 17, 2017--"an appalling violation of [the] right to freedom of expression," as U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye noted on February 10, 2017.
Particularly in light of these measures to restrict the media, we are concerned that Atia Azohnwi, Amos Fofung, Thomas Awah Junior, Mfor Ndong, Hans Achumba, Tim Finnian, Jean Claude Agbortem, and Medjo Lewis are imprisoned for their work as journalists, and respectfully ask that you clarify the reasons for their detention, where they are held, and their current legal status.
Sincerely,
 Angela Quintal
Africa Program Coordinator
 CC:
Sètondji Adjovi, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights
Dr. Divine Chemuta Banda, Chairman, National Commission of Human Rights and Freedoms in Cameroon
David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression 
Simon Lyonga, National President, Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalist (CAMASEJ)
Moussa Faki Mahamat, African Union Commission Chairman
Michel Tommo Monthé, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the United Nations
Georges Nakseu, Directeur, Démocratie et Droits de l'Homme, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
Denis Nkwebo, President, Cameroon Union of Journalists
Faith Pansy Tlakula, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Happening : S. Cameroons Pressure Groups Finally Create United Front to Restore Statehood

All the pressure groups and organisations the world over, battling  to restore the Independence/Statehood of the former British Southern  Cameroons have finally created a common front.

In a release on March 1 2017, the different groups; the SCNC, SCAPO, Republic of Ambazonia, SCYL, The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium - CACSC,  MoRISC, Southern Cameroons South Africa Forum, Southern Cameroonians in Nigeria - SCINGA and the Ambazonia  Governing Council, all decided to form the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia Consortium United Front, SCACUF whose Secretariat is in Buea.
HENCEFORTH SYMBOL OF SC STRUGGLE

SCAFCUF already took certain decisions at a time when the Cameroon government is battling to rescue the 2016-2017 academic year.

Below is  SCACUF's full  release...

 Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) Pressure Groups Create United Front to Restore Statehood:

The drive towards the total restoration of the statehood of the Southern Cameroons has scored the biggest victory of all times. About all the organizations previously scattered across the world with separate and sometimes contradictory positions on what should be good for the people and how the objective could be attained, have all come together under one umbrella to henceforth speak in the same language.

The leaders of the SCNC, SCAPO, Republic of Ambazonia, SCYL, The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium - CACSC,  MoRISC, Southern Cameroons South Africa Forum, Southern Cameroonians in Nigeria - SCINGA and the Ambazonia  Governing Council agreed to form a new body bringing everyone together to carry out tough actions for clear results.

After four days of deliberations, from the 23rd to the 26th of February, the leaders declared the creation of the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia Consortium United Front, SCACUF and agreed to henceforth be referred to as Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia). The leaders put in place the structures of a permanent secretariat with head office Buea and branches abroad, agreeing to man the various organs in the days ahead.
THE CONSORTIUM STARTED IT ALL 

Going forward, SCACUF unanimously adopted the image of Barrister Nkongho Frlix Agbor Balla, President of the Consortium as the face of the entire struggle, and then endorsed Tassang Wilfred Fombang and Barrister Eyambe Elias Ebai of the same Consortium to be their mouth piece with the mandate to continue to direct the ongoing struggle on the home front.

Other key decisions include the proscription of the CPDM (RDPC) party and its affiliates all over the territory of Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) as terrorist and money laundering organizations sponsored by La Republique du Cameroun, with immediate effect, the outlawing of any elections organized by La Republique du Cameroun, the beginning of preparations towards the official declaration of the statehood of Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) in the days ahead and the recruitment of an international law Firm, the Foley Hoag International Law Firm to commence legal proceedings against La Republique du Cameroun and individuals in her government in the appropriate jurisdiction for crimes against humanity and genocide.

Details can be found in the official declaration that has been released this March 1, 2017.

P.S. Release Awaited!

Friday, 9 December 2016

Happening: Kumba Protesters Demand Justice for Bamenda Killings... Bamenda Schools Shut Down

The city of Kumba, headquarters of Meme Division in South West Region, Cameroon has this December 9 2016 been grounded by angry locals who are demanding justice for those killed in Bamenda the day before.

Buea Road Kumba- Dec 9 2016 
Concordant reports indicate that commercial motor cyclists are parading the streets from Kumba Town Green to other neighbourhoods. 

Kumba December 9 2016 
All stores and markets have been shut down, with reports speaking of Road blocks on major junctions and especially on the entrance to Kumba from Buea.

Kumba Dec 9 2016 Police Car In front of Protesters
Witnesses quote some of the placards as reading “stop killing our brothers. Liberate us.”  Security forces are reportedly calm and monitoring the situation although the tension seems mounting in the Meme Headquarters.

Kumba Dec 9 2016 

 Over in Bamenda in the North West region, circulation is grounded in the commercial avenue as security forces parade the streets. 

BAMENDA BOARDING SCHOOLS 
Workers were unable to get transportation to work as early as 6:30 local time. 


Pictures on social media show students in boarding schools packing their bags to leave the school premises.


Other schools have reportedly called on parents to come for their children.


The main commercial center, Commercial Avenue remains shut down. 


Reports earlier on in Bamenda had indicated then several passengers making their way into the city were stranded at the up station hills as security forces prevented them.


Video posted on social media showed troops patrolling the main streets of Bamenda on foot or in the open backs of pickup trucks. Residents are said to be deserting the town for nearby villages.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

At Least Ten Killed or Executed by Security Forces in Bamenda, Cameroon*

By Ntumfoyn Herbert Boh (Yindo Toh)*
 
Washington, 8 December 2016 - Riot police and paramilitary forces shot into crowds of protesters Thursday killing more than ten people in the town of Bamenda, the capital of the English-speaking North West Region of Cameroon and a stronghold of Cameroon’s main opposition political party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF).

TWO OF THE VICTIMS 
Many more people are believed to have been "disappeared".

As the sun set Thursday, video posted on social media showed troops patrolling the main streets of Bamenda on foot or in the open backs of pickup trucks - firing aimlessly into the air and sometimes towards buildings.

A dozen lorry loads of gendarmes numbering several hundreds of troops drove through the western town of Bafoussam just before darkness headed for Bamenda, according to online reports citing Canal+, a Bafoussam-based private broadcaster.

One audio recording posted on the Cameroon Online WhatsApp eGroup claimed that the troops coming from Bafoussam are trainees, well known for putting down demonstrations by employing only the worst forms of brutality and savagery. 

The student soldiers are currently in training at the Koutaba Military Camp based in the outskirts of Bafoussam. Their mission, according to citizen journalists online, is to raid Bamenda under the cover of darkness and perpetrate as much killing and violence to completely intimidate the protesters, and to do so at a time of day (darkness) when their acts cannot be recorded and shared via social media.

Photos and video of some of the ten victims killed in Bamenda Thursday and posted on social media suggest that several of them were executed outright or were killed execution style.

One of the horror pictures shows one of the victims who was arrested, stripped naked, tortured and then executed by firing a bullet up either his anus or his genitals, ripping through his manhood. Another showed a young man who was executed by a lone bullet fired into one of his nostrils.

Another picture showed eight young men arrested, stripped of their shirts and made to lie facedown on the road with riot police and gendarme officers patrolling not far away from them. 

Social media accounts hold that the eight were later executed while lying on the road and their bodies were carted away by their executioners, apparently also instructed to cover up for their crimes by moving the bodies away from the scene of execution.

State television confirmed the fear that the government was carting away and burying people without informing their families when its French language newscast said only two had been killed.

On one video, a group of young men who had converted a piece of plank into a stretcher are seen rushing an injured teenager to a nearby hospital. Voices in the video explain that the teenage victim was standing outside the entrance of their family home when he was shot, point blank, execution style.

Yet another video posted by one of the many citizen journalists struggling Thursday to document the executions (at great risk to themselves) showed a military pickup truck, picking up and carry away the remains of someone that had been killed and had been lying in the street just minutes before.

Cameroonian security forces and the dreaded secret or political police are known to “disappear” protesters and opponents of Mr. Paul Biya, the president of Cameroon for 34 years already. He is more likely than not to seek another eight-year term in presidential elections expected to hold in 2018.

CORPSE OF BAMENDA UNIVERSITY STUDENT AKUM JULIUS 
Democracy and human rights activist, Tapang Ivo Tanku, quoted “unconfirmed reports” on social media as alleging that a police station had been burnt down by angry protesters in Bamenda after they stormed it earlier on Thursday to decry the killing of young men in Bamenda.

Video posted online showed 
young people outside that police station, screaming their grief and calling for justice. Pointing at the remains of another young man, shut dead and still lying in the street outside the police station, the protesters said the victim had been killed by gunfire coming from that police station. 



One of the protesters raised the lifeless body of the victim, leaned the upper part of the remains from waist up against his legs, and screamed into the phone camera “we want justice”.

Yet more video showed a crowd stumbling on another young man who had been executed or killed execution style. A few voices in the video identify the victim by his first name, apparently, Divine. 

The remains of Divine showed that his jaws had been slashed from the mouth right up to just before his ears with a knife or some other sharp object. Bullet wounds on his left leg, through the jeans trousers he was wearing and one on his face left little doubt that the victim had died of his gunshot wounds.

Born on the Wrong Side of the River Mungo, Charged with the Crime of Not Being Francophone, and Executed

The worst has happened in Bamenda, screamed a headline on the online news portal, Cameron Journal, published by a Texas-based Cameroonian-American.

Young people are being killed in Bamenda, wrote Innocent Chia, a Cameroonian journalist and blogger now based in Chicago, USA, and author of an online blog, The Chia Report.

“Many watched this morning how… police fired straight at me. God Almighty did another miracle. The bullet was diverted to my feet and only wounded both feet”, wrote Mancho Bibixy on social media. 

Mancho Bibixy is the young man who has become the face of the ongoing protests in Cameroon after he brought his own coffin to the first protest march in Bamenda and stood in it to make his speech.

MANCHO; AFTER CHEATING DEATH
Mancho Bibixy told the crowd at a Bamenda town road junction – Liberty Square, made famous by the killing on that spot in 1990 of six young people who had joined demonstrations calling for the end of one party rule - that he had come to the rally ready to die and had taken the time to buy the coffin for his own funeral.

His feelings are shared by millions of people who have nicknamed the ongoing protests in Cameroon "The Coffin Revolution".

The “sole crime” of the young people killed, wrote Mr. Chia, “is that they were born on the wrong side of the River Mungo and happen to speak English, not French”. The Mungo River serves as the borderline between English and French-speaking Cameroons.

Cameroonians based in the United States will be appealing the administration of President Barack Obama next Saturday, 10 December 2016. At a grand rally outside the White House, they will also be appealing to the U.S. Congress, the United Nations and the rest of the civilized world to help put an end to the horrors unfolding in Bamenda and across most of English-speaking parts of Cameroon.

The rally (outside the White House, holding from noon to 2pm) was scheduled before the events of Bamenda and was intended to drum up support in the United States for the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons.

ARRESTS
Birth of MoRISC to Champion the Restoration of Independence

A federation of organizations has been freshly constituted to mobilize international support for the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons. Known as the Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons (abbreviated MoRISC), it brings together members of leading opposition party, SDF based in the Washington, DC, Metro Area, and leaders of pro-independence, pro-democracy and pro-human rights organizations.

The movement is focused more on independence for Southern Cameroons, but the anger overflows into demands for Cameroon’s long-serving dictator, Paul Biya, to step down.

 “It is time for you (Paul Biya) to pack and go”, chanted a group of Cameroonians living in France, who on Thursday staged a protest march down several blocks of streets in the French capital, Paris.

“Tell Paul Biya and his bunch of killers and criminals that they will have to account for all the innocent Southern Cameroonian lives they are destroying”, a Washington-based Cameroonian-American activist, Chrstimas Ebini, wrote Thursday on the Cameroon Online WhatsApp eGroup. “Tell him to get his forces out of Southern Cameroons”, he added.

The feeling that there is a conspiracy by French-speaking Cameroonians to hold their English-speaking citizens in a relations of black-on-black colonial domination has been strengthened by the fact that trade unions of lawyers and teachers in the French-speaking parts of the country have not shown any solidarity with their colleagues, despite the violent attacks they have suffered at the hands of security forces.


BAMENDA DEC 8 2016 

Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Others Airlifted to Safety

Social media is overloaded with horrific pictures and videos of the tragedy unfolding in Bamenda, where earlier Thursday, the Prime Minister of Cameroon, Philomen Yang, several members of his government and sympathizers of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) held a rally in an attempt to show support for the present unitary state of Cameroon and opposition to the growing pro-independence movement.

According to eyewitness reports, the ruling party ferried hundreds of youngsters from neighboring French-speaking regions to attend the rally in Bamenda, after a similar attempt to stage a rally Tuesday in Buea, the former capital of British-administered Southern Cameroons until it gained independence on 1 October 1961, flopped completely. 

On Monday December 5 , the leader of the SDF, Ni John Fru Ndi led a monstrous demonstration in Buea, attended by several thousands to show support for independence and to protest against human rights violations against students of the University of Buea and lawyers from the English-speaking part of Cameroon who, along with teachers have been on strike to protest marginalization.
SDF RALLY IN BUEA DECEMBER 5 2016(Fru Ndi) IN WHITE
The two strikes have since shown as much sympathy for independence as do many in the ranks of the opposition SDF. At the Buea rally on Monday, one singer who tried to sing the anthem of Cameroon at the start got shouted down by thousands others: “No anthem. No anthem.”

The United Nations General Assembly voted on 21 April 1961 to grant independence to the English-speaking part of the Cameroons, then known as British Southern Cameroons. The French-speaking part of Cameroon (eight of the current ten regions of the country and accounting for 80% of the population) gained independence from France on 1 January 1960, more than a year and a half before the English-speaking part of the country.

Shortly after troops started firing into crowds of demonstrators and killing people on Thursday in Bamenda, angry mobs took to the streets, chasing after those who had come to town to show their support for Mr. Biya and the unitary state he leads. According to social media accounts, the irate crowds even targeted the Prime Minister and ministers, raising barricades on roads leading from the Ayaba Hotel in downtown Bamenda where the Prime Minister was reportedly forced to hunker down for a couple of hours before being airlifted out of the town in a military helicopter. 

 One of his cabinet ministers, Paul Atanga Nji, who serves as the special security adviser to President Paul Biya, was reportedly also chased after by angry protesters, some of whom reportedly attacked him physically. On one video posted on social media, showing someone arriving the Bamenda Regional Hospital in the regalia of the ruling party, a footnote claimed that Mr. Atanga Nji was hurt in one of his eyes by the angry mob.

Sources say Mr. Atanga Nji also had to airlifted into safety in a military helicopter from the Bamenda Regional Hospital after mobs reportedly burnt down his car parked outside the hospital. The protesters also lowered the Cameroonian flag on the grounds of the hospital and, in its place, raised the flag of Southern Cameroons. Two days earlier, similar flag lowering and hoisting of the Southern Cameroons flag had been reported in Kumba, in the English-speaking South West Region.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Atanga Nji, a former convict who has currently been charged with embezzling public funds by the government-created anti-corruption court, was the object of strong ridicule on social media after he claimed in an interview on state television that there was no problem of marginalization of Cameroon’s English-speaking minority (20% of the country’s 22 million inhabitants).

BURNING RULING PARTY REGALIA
As Bamenda settles into an uneasy calm Thursday night, most social media postings from residents in that town repeat a message that rang through most posts in the day. By ordering executions in Bamenda Thursday, Mr. Biya has declared war on Southern Cameroons, citizen journalists kept repeating Thursday on social media.


END
Please, share this report with your representative in Congress, your Member of Parliament or the National Assembly, your Senators, with Media Outlets in your country, with Human Rights Organizations… and add your name to several petitions online to denounce the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the colonialist government of Cameroun against citizens of Southern Cameroons.

The writer is a veteran Cameroonian journalist with years of pro-democracy and human rights activism under his belt who know lives in the United States.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Cameroonians In Cape Town, South Africa, Join Diaspora Protests

Cameroonians from different walks of life, joined others in different countries in the diaspora to protest in Cape Town South Africa. 

The protests took place at the Cameroon Consulate, the French and British diplomatic representations in the part of the country December 6, 2016.


Some of the messages called for a halt to the marginalization of  Anglophones while the biggest banner called for a federal state.


Reliable sources also indicate that similar protests have been billed for South Africa’s capital Pretoria.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Fru Ndi, Thousands March on Buea, SCNC Flag Hoisted in Kumba, Bamenda Market Closed

After blocking the chairman of the Social Democratic Front Party at the Parliamentary Flat in Buea for hours, Ni John Fru Ndi and his delegation of MPs , Senators and Mayors finally set to stage a protest march on the streets of Buea, in the South West Region of Cameroon December 5 2016. From the Molyko Stadium, the march is to the Governor's office.


The messages on the placards condemned police and gendarmerie brutality on peaceful demonstrators. 


Other were calling for outright independence for Southern Cameroons, while there were also calls for a Federation. 

Buea 5 2016
Security has been tightened amid fears of violence. 

Buea Dec 2016
Witnesses said those taking part in the march on Buea are not putting on any political party regalia as means of showing a general discontent by Cameroonians against the Yaounde Regime.

Buea Dec 5 2016 
Tension is reported high in Kumba in the South West Region, where a Southern Cameroons National Council flag was hoisted. 

SDF MPs (Hon Nintcheu -Left) Buea Dec 5 2016 
The flag was reportedly pulled down by soldiers who are said to be parading the streets of Kumba and its environs.


In Bamenda in the North West region, the Central Market was simply closed down following calls from Traders’ Trade Unions.





Several schools in the South West and North West region have reportedly closed down as the All Anglophone Teachers Union enter their third week of strike action.




Bamenda Market 
Bamenda Market Dec 5 2016 

Kumba Dec 5 2016