The President of the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists, Camasej, has raised a storm by describing some journalists in his country as terrorist journalists.
During his address to fellow journalists on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, Simon Lyonga praised journalists who have been contributing to shape society at the expense of their security and lives.
He however frowned at other journalists who he described as activists and urged them to get back on track and stop being “terrorist journalists”.
“…a good number of us have not been responsible journalists and have kept down their cloaks of reporting objectively, putting on the apron of activists who decide what side of the tale to tell their audiences. To these few we say it’s not yet late, get back to the house and stop being terrorist journalists,”Simon Lyonga said.
However, this has not gone down well with some journalists who have demanded he clarifies what he means by “terrorist journalists”.
“This is the worst Press Freedom Day message I have ever read in my entire career, that a President of a journalists’ association will address some of hi colleagues as terrorist journalists shows how far we are still behind in terms of press freedom,” journalist Nfor Hanson Nchanji said on his Facebook page.
He added that Simon Lyonga’s statement just reinforces the position of the government to use anti terrorism laws to crack down on journalists.
“Did the Camasej National President just address his colleagues as terrorists journalists?” journalist Deng Eric questioned.
On her part, Claudia Nsono, journalist at Africanews said she wasn’t surprised Simon Lyonga chose to address some of his fellow colleagues as ‘terrorists’ but was rather pained he was adamant with his description even when his attention was drawn to the use of what they qualify as hate speech.
“How much hate could the President of an association of journalists spew in a single speech? And what’s more, this derogatory hate speech was delivered on World Press Freedom Day. Shocking!,”Claudia said.
“English speaking journalists have been tagged terrorists by some French speaking colleagues and authorities. For it to come from one of their own, at a time when hate speech should be condemned in the strongest terms, just tells how far we still have to go,” she added while saying the honourable thing for Simon Lyonga will be to withdraw the statement and issue an apology.
Quizzed on the issue during celebrations to mark the World Press Freedom Day, the Yaounde chapter President of Camasej, Jude Viban said he had got to Simon Lyonga to get clarifications on his statement but faileed to reveal the outcome of their discussions.