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As death toll rises in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions, MRG condemns violence, calls for impartial investigation into killings and long-term solutions to ongoing crisis

4 October 2017

In light of the spike in violence in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions on Sunday, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) calls for an immediate impartial investigation into recent events.

‘We strongly condemn the excessive use of force by Cameroonian security forces, as well as the government’s attempt to silence dissent by shutting down freedom of movement and assembly,’ stressed Carl Söderbergh, MRG’s Director of Policy and Communications. ‘A necessary and urgent first step is for the government to launch an independent and impartial investigation into the recent violence.’

According to news reports, in an attempt to suppress demonstrations on 1 October 2017, security forces opened fire on protesters calling for the independence of the Anglophone regions, killing at least 17 people. Social media was blocked in the areas, the second time in less than a year, whilst electricity was also cut.

MRG and its partner RECODH recently raised concerns over rising tensions and human rights abuses in the Anglophone-majority regions of Cameroon with the UN Human Rights Council.

The rights organisations highlighted the government’s reaction to social movements and popular protest by teachers and lawyers from the Anglophone minority, which has included detention and alleged torture of peaceful protesters, a three-month internet block affecting only the English-speaking regions earlier this year, and interference in citizens’ rights to freedom of association, expression and public demonstration. Though the government freed some of the leaders of the movement, others are still in jail and little information is available on the exact number of persons detained.

‘While we urge protesters to express their opinions peacefully, the government’s actions are simply increasing tensions,’ added Söderbergh. ‘We are concerned that they are failing to respond to the Anglophone community’s grievances and accommodate linguistic diversity in Cameroon. Conflict can only be resolved through respect of minority rights.’

An English-speaking linguistic minority inhabits the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, a legacy of the region’s colonial past. Anglophone activists claim that the two provinces, with roughly one fifth of national population but producing over half of the GDP, have been marginalized by a predominately French-speaking government.

Cameroon rose eleven places in MRG’s 2017 Peoples under Threat index, which ranks countries most at risk of genocide and mass killing.

Notes to editors

  • Minority Rights Group International is the leading organization working for the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide. We have decades of experience securing rights and combating discrimination, and our work is more relevant than ever today.
  • For more information contact:

Carl Söderbergh, MRG Director of Policy & Communications, London (UK)

E: [email protected] / M: +44 7837 533 675 / Twitter:@MinorityRights #minorityrights

Photo: Anglophone protests in Cameroon, September 2017