Cameroon: Kidnapping of students is a crime against humanity
The escalating civil war in Cameroon can only be resolved through political dialogue (Press Release)
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has accused the warring parties in the civil war in Cameroon of serious human rights violations. Ulrich Delius, director of the Göttingen-based human rights organization, emphasized that the kidnapping of 79 students, a school principal, and two drivers from a boarding school in the Anglophone north-west of the country is to be seen as a crime against humanity – and even regular soldiers are guilty of human rights violations, as entire villages in the English-speaking areas were burned down intentionally.
"The mass kidnapping is a tragic climax of politically motivated violence in the Anglophone regions. It is a wake-up call for the international community to stop ignoring the escalating civil war and to demand a political dialogue between the conflict parties," Delius stated.
The high school students had been abducted from a boarding school of the Presbyterian Church in Bamenda during the night from Sunday to Monday. Unlike in Nigeria, where Sunni extremists kidnapped female students as a statement against school education for girls, the perpetrators in Cameroon mainly kidnapped boys.
Several groups who are fighting for an independent Anglophone state of Ambazonia have been calling for a boycott of the Cameroonian schools for months. They are accusing the government of discriminating against the English-speaking population in the scope of the country's education system. Armed groups have repeatedly attacked schools. A school principal was shot dead in September, and six high school students were abducted from a school in Bamenda in Mid-October 2018.
"President Paul Biya – who was re-elected just recently – should not sugarcoat the escalating civil war in his address to the nation today," Delius stated. "If Biya is not prepared to face the dramatic situation, France, Cameroon's protective power, must put pressure on the government to enter a dialogue. A further escalation of violence must be prevented. Otherwise, West Africa will become even more destabilized."
At least 400 civilians and 175 members of the security forces have lost their lives since the outbreak of the fighting in 2016, and about 300,000 people were forced to flee from the violence.
Header image: Alberto Vaccaro via Flickr