In Cameroon, the MP for the Bafut community in the country’s Anglophone northwest has written a letter – published in its entirety by local media – calling for an end to gross human rights violations.
The letter from Wilfred Fusi Naamukong, directed to the governor of northwest Cameroon, details the specific case of an Anglophone business owner detained last month on his way home from watching an Africa Cup of Nations game. A humiliating beating and detention, allegedly by armed military personnel, ended with injuries for which he is still treated.
The case serves to illustrate Naamukong’s appeal to intervene on the wider injustices that plague the Anglophone community and have alarmed international observers.
“Our military has transformed themselves into forces of torture, kidnapping, victimization, persecution, extortion of funds from helpless inhabitants,” writes Naamukong. People are arrested without warrant, subject to military investigations outside the scope of civilian community, beaten and traumatized.
“These violations can only be seen in times of war,” Naamukong said.
Violent protests and arrests have occurred for months, as Anglophone activists have pressed for reforms in the French-speaking nation. What began as protests in October evolved into widespread boycotts by lawyers, teachers and civilians joining them. Key Anglophone advocacy organizations were banned in January, and their leaders were arrested.
Rights groups from outside Cameroon have raised their concern over trials that are handled by military tribunal rather than civil courts, as well as sobering issues of deaths, detentions and political repression. These include weeks of Internet shutdowns in Anglophone regions.
The cultural rift goes beyond language to encompass the political, economic and social inequalities Anglophones say they experience under President Paul Biya, who has been in power for more than three decades.