GENEVA - The U.N. Human Rights office denounces the killings of demonstrators from Cameroon’s Anglophone community in towns across the Northwest and Southwest regions Sunday, October 1, and is calling for an impartial investigation into these events.
Government figures put the number of deaths at about 10. But other estimates report many more people than that were killed. U.N. Human Rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, says credible sources indicate some of the deaths were caused by the excessive use of force by the security forces.
“We call on the Government of Cameroon to establish prompt effective and independent investigations to ensure accountability and, of course, impartial, as well," said Colville. "Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have seen multiple strikes and demonstrations over the past year as resentment and tensions have built at what English-speakers view as discrimination against them in favor of the majority French-speaking population.”
Anglophones make up about 20 percent of Cameroon’s majority Francophone population. Grievances over their perceived economic and political marginalization have been building for years.
The killings last Sunday came amid wide-scale protests by the English-speaking community, leading to a symbolic declaration of independence from the majority of the French speaking country.
The U.N. human rights office is calling for restraint by the security forces to prevent a recurrence of similar bloody events. Colville says people must be allowed to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
“We call on all people to pursue peaceful means to make themselves heard. Over the past few months, public and private property have been damaged, and at least two homemade bombs are reported to have been planted in public places," said Colville. "There also have been arson attacks on a number of schools.”
Colville says his office welcomes comments by President Paul Biya, in the aftermath of the killings, condemning all forms violence and calling for dialogue to find a durable solution.