Cameroon: Students and teachers kidnapped at the beginning of the school year

“The future of Cameroon is at stake” – Violence against schools must be stopped immediately! (Press Release)

Students in the North of Cameroon. In Bafut, a city in the northwestern-region of the country, seven students and three teachers were abducted by the anglophone minority. Picture: ident.africa e.V. via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Following the violent kidnapping of seven students and three teachers in the English-speaking part of Cameroon, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) calls for an end to violence against schools in connection with the escalating civil war. “The growing language dispute between the Anglophone minority and the French-speaking majority should not lead to fear and terror in Cameroon’s schools. Anyone who exercises violence against children and youths will cause trauma and put the future of the country at risk,” explained Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Wednesday.

On Monday, at the beginning of the new school year, armed fighters of the Anglophone minority had raided and kidnapped pupils and teachers of a church grammar school in the city of Bafut in northwestern Cameroon – as a means to emphasize their call for a class boycott. From their point of view, the school system deliberately discriminates members of their linguistic minority. The call for a boycott is supposed to be enforced by violent means, which is why hundreds of thousands of parents in the English-speaking areas don’t dare to send their children to school.

The rector of the Presbyterian Scientific School in Bafut was severely injured in the course of the attack. The teachers and two kidnapped students were released on Tuesday, but the fate of the remaining five school pupils is still unclear.

Many schools in Cameroon have closed since the outbreak of the civil war in 2016, as it is not possible to guarantee safety for the children and teachers, and because parents no longer send their children to class. Many teachers are facing empty classrooms.

In August 2018, the fighters of the Anglophone minority had assured that the schools could reopen, but they are not willing to give them a security guarantee. “The dispute over the marginalization of the Anglophone minority should not be carried out on the backs of innocent school pupils,” Delius emphasized. “The most important goal should be to protect the civilian population against serious human rights violations – and this must be guaranteed by the Anglophone militias.”

Headerpicture: ident.africa e.V. via Flickr