At least seven people were murdered and seven more wounded, including a young girl who was raped, by armed separatists in Cameroon. Since January 2022, armed separatists have been committing atrocities against locals. These crimes include the burning of at least two schools as well as the attacking of a university and kidnapping of around 82 people while threatening to beat or kill others on campus. Litlle has been achieved in terms of stopping the attacks, and the international community fears an escalation in the abuses.
Ilaria Allegrozzi, Senior Central Africa Research on Human rights, writes, “armed Separatist groups are kidnapping, terrorizing, and killing civilians across the English-speaking regions.” He goes on to say how these groups perform these human rights abuses, “with no apparent fear of being held to account by either their own leaders or Cameroonian law enforcement.” Along with Mr. Allegrozzi’s assessment, there have been countless eyewitness reports from Cameroonian citizens about witnessing these atrocities firsthand. One student explains how while at University he, “…saw three separatist fighters shooting from the campus football field (and) that they kept firing for 20 minutes.”
The separatist attacks on civilians are a way to demand the creation of an independent, English-speaking state within Cameroon that is separate from the rest of the mainly French-speaking, population. The core of the issue comes from the belief that the separatists are entitled to their own state as their differences with the rest of the country render peacefully co-existing a non-viable option. The government has refused to comply with these wishes, which has led to this unwarranted and horrific display of violence and human rights atrocities.
The government of Cameroon must find a way to protect its people from these attacks. It is the responsibility of the government to protect its people from war, violence, and human rights abuses of any kind. So, they must find a way to quell the separatists without engaging in actions that will lead to a civil war. If the state can bring the separatist leadership to the negotiation table and get them to immediately seize any violence against Cameroonians, perhaps the two sides can find a solution. Although a solution in the political arena seems unlikely considering the separatist immediately resorted to unforgivable violence against innocent people when they were not given what they wanted, the state must keep trying. However unlikely a solution in the political arena may be, the government must take immediate action and stop these gruesome human rights abuses.
The international community must continue to not only condemn and take action against the actions of the separatist coalition but also remind the Cameroonian government that civil war is not a solution to quelling the separatist movement. Reminding the Cameroonian leaders that civil war may result in the further deterioration of law, and a far worse situation for their people may motivate them to find a peaceful solution where, first and foremost, its people are protected. Violence cannot be solved through more violent means and putting more innocent lives at risk by waging what will likely be a bloody civil war, does not justify putting an end to the conflict.
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