The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has rounded up her visit to Cameroon with a meeting with key figures of the opposition as well as civil society actors.
Saturday’s meeting was an opportunity to listen to the various views from on the human rights situation in Cameroon from the various political actors.
Below is a full excerpt of what Edith Kah Walla, leader of the Stand Up for Cameroon Movement and head of the CPP party.
Madam High Commissioner,
We want to welcome you to our beautiful country Cameroon. This extraordinary country is disintegrating before the very eyes of the world due to governance that is characterized by:
- The refusal to implement even the most basic of democratic processes
• The continuous and systematic violation of human rights
• The inability to deliver basic services that are the fundamental rights of the population
Madam High Commissioner you know the facts and figures only too well.
• 7 out of the 10 regions in Cameroon are today affected by conflict
• Over 700,000 Cameroonians are internally displaced
o 170,000 in the Extreme North
o About 5,000 in the Adamawa
o 530,000 in the North West and South West
• Over 2,000 have been killed in the Boko Haram conflict and over 1850 in the Anglophone
• At least 50,000 refugees have fled the country
• The education of an estimated 2,500,000 children has been disrupted for the third year now
• Over 1,000 people are currently illegally and arbitrarily under arrest due to the Boko Haram
conflict and the Anglophone Crisis.
These crises were compounded at the end of 2018 with a sham election that enabled President Paul Biya at the age of 85 and after 36 years of reign, to once again begin a 7-year term. All observers considered the election flawed with numerous irregularities and fraud. Maurice Kamto, President of the CRM party and candidate during this presidential election contested the official results and declared himself winner. He and his party members carried out non-violent protests in this regard. They were illegally arrested and over 100 of them have been in detention for over 3 months today. We could go on and on. Cameroon is unquestionably in an acute national crisis with no viable ways out. The Government of Cameroon has the full responsibility for these crises and for the catastrophic
management of them which has led to further violation of human rights and aggravation of the conflict.
Today Cameroonians do not trust:
• Their Army – which has carried out grave human rights abuses against them including burning villages, extra judiciary killings, brutality, rape and more. The people who were supposed to protect us as citizens have been instructed to violate us.
• Their Justice – which has arrested thousands without respecting due legal process. Civilians are tried in military courts and sentences are not based on proven guilt. The institutions which were supposed to ensure justice are now dispensing large scale injustice.
• Their Electoral System – which is rigged and fraudulent. Voters cannot be convinced that their voice counts. They have too much evidence to the contrary.
• Their Presidency – which is silent, oppressive and incapable of delivering basic services such as potable water, electricity, education and healthcare. The sole concern of the president, seems to be, staying in power.
Madam High Commissioner,
The tensions in Cameroon today are social, political and economic. These tensions are so powerful that general chaos and/or a full-blown war is today a high probability. Neither we as Cameroonians, nor you as the world, will be able to hide behind the excuse of “we did not see it coming”. We saw it coming. We know exactly what will happen if these crises do not find a solution in the coming weeks. So, what can we as Cameroonians and you as the international community do? In the immediate term, it is essential that the international community:
• Demand a neutral, fact-finding commission including members of international bodies, as well as Cameroonian actors from civil society be able to visit the North West and the South West regions and establish certain irrefutable facts.
• Condemn firmly and unequivocally the violations of human rights and democratic principles;
• Call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those illegally arrested and sentenced in connection with the Boko Haram conflict, the Anglophone crisis and the CRM electoral protests;
• Hold the Biya regime accountable at international meetings. Cameroonian government representatives must be questioned according to the existing mechanisms on proven cases of murder, imprisonment and torture. This can be done at the UN Security Council or another appropriate instance.
• Trigger the process of individual sanctions against members of the Cameroonian government responsible for the current violence and chaos in the country including: travel bans, freezing of assets, seizure of property etc. or us as Cameroonians, it is clear that the Biya Regime can no longer govern Cameroon. As a result,we demand a Political Transition. This entails:
• The Departure of the Biya Regime – We as Cameroonians are coming together to demand it. We will do so through large-scale protest and without violence. We expect the world to support us as we do so.
• A National Dialogue – To reconcile ourselves as a people and rebuild our nation, we need to discuss our colonial heritage: the war of independence, the north-south divide and the anglophone question. We must redefine the nature of the state and its relation to the citizen, as well as the form of the state.
• Citizenship Education – To reclaim our status as citizens in a democratic state, we will need to hold citizenship dialogues and seminars throughout the country. We must relearn our rights and responsibilities within our country.
• Institutional Reform – To reinstate equilibrium between the three powers, we will need to rewrite the constitution and reform key institutions such as the electoral system.
• The Holding of Elections – On the basis of the new constitution and the new electoral system, it will be possible to hold, for the first time in our history, free and fair elections.
Madam High Commissioner,
We intend to put and end to these crises, avoid full-blown war and reclaim our country. It is our sincere hope that the world will be on our side as we do so.