A human rights group, Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, has condemned the killing of Anglophones in Cameroon and called on both sides to avoid hate speech and exercise restraint.
Anglophone activists have taken up arms against the state in their quest for independence and the government of President Paul Biya has vowed to defend the unity of Cameroon.
“Cameroon is indivisible,” President Biya famously said.
Mr Biya has said there would not be negotiations with a “bunch of terrorists” who have taken up arms against a sovereign country, and have engaged in mass burning of schools to curry international sympathy while beheading security forces and manufacturing locally made hand grenades.
But the Anglophones have said they would defend themselves to death in the face of an invasion by French speaking armed forces.
They have repeatedly said they wanted to break up because they were being treated as second class citizens in Cameroon, where 81 percent of the population speaks French in addition to hundreds of local dialects and the rest speaks English and hundreds of other local languages.
With deep divisions and inability from both sides to listen to each other, both sides have continued to air their opinions and encourage their foot soldiers to stand their grounds.
With no dialogue and only monologue, the conflict has continued to escalate and many have continued to die.
In a statement on Wednesday, human rights group, CHRDA, said it was “stunned by the trends of events in the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon and by the degeneration of events tending to affect neighboring Francophone Region of the West Region”.
The pro-Anglophone rights organization warned that “an impending hate crime, retaliatory ethnic conflict, indoctrination and violent extremism as a result of cross-regional attacks from armed separatist groups and villagers of affected communities” may be in the making.
The group said “over the weekends preceding Christmas day, news from media and individuals reported an arson attack allegedly led by hundreds of armed men (reportedly 300 in number) from Bangolan (in Babessi sub-division in the Northwest Region) targeting a village in Bangourain, a sub-division in the neighboring Noun Division, which led to the destruction of dozens of houses (reportedly at least 85 affecting over 100 families), the death of at least one person, wounding several others, abduction of at least 15 persons and causing heavy material and financial losses of other infrastructures”.
It said on 26 December, the previous weekend attack saw retaliation (as alleged by several other sources) by residents of the affected neighborhood in Bangourain, where two persons suspected to be arsonists were apprehended, lynched, before being dragged on the ground attached to motor bikes with chains”.
“This hate rhetoric on both sides must come to an end as it reminds us of America in 1998 when James Byrd Jr was killed by lynching and dragged by three white supremacists through the State of Texas”.
“Cameroonians are called upon to exhibit togetherness and condemn these happenings as a nation, regardless of their ethnic, religious, political, ideological, cultural or economic denominations,” the group said.
It added that “the scenes and stories are horrible and should appeal to government’s foresight to begin taking the Anglophone Crisis more seriously and engage in more genuine peace-building processes”.
“The government’s continuous military operations in the Northwest and Southwest Regions which may be the fuel to the inhuman crimes perpetrated by both the defense and security forces and the armed separatist groups needs to come to an immediate cease fire.
“Francophones and Anglophones sharing similar boundaries in neighboring localities across Cameroon should exercise restraint and avoid involving themselves in actions that may further endanger human life, cause injuries, destroy private and public property, cause material and financial losses, and aggravate the already preoccupying tensions between the populace, government forces and separatist groups,” CHRDA added.