Cameroon

Fears for Cameroon reporter detained for 'propaganda'

Samuel Wazizi
Samuel Wazizi/Facebook
Samuel Wazizi was taken into custody on Friday 2 August

A journalist arrested in south-western Cameroon 10 days ago is being denied access to a lawyer and his family, his attorney Edward Lyonga Ewule has told the BBC.

Samuel Wazizi, who works for private music station CMTV presenting a TV talk show, was detained on Friday by police in Muea in one of Cameroon’s two English-speaking provinces.

He is accused of collaborating with secessionists who are fighting to create an independent state called Ambazonia, made up of the North-West and South-West regions.

Mr Ewule said his client was initially denied bail as the police said the case was linked to terrorism.

After five days, Wazizi was taken into custody of the military and since then he has not been able to talk to his client, he said.

"I have not gained access to him; family members have not gained access to him. I went there and I was told that lawyers are not allowed in the military camp," the lawyer told BBC Focus on Africa reporter Randy Joe Sa’ah.

Mr Ewule said his client had not been formally charged but was accused of spreading separatist propaganda after his phone was searched.

But having such information "was part of his journalism", he said.

Our reporter says it is not the first time journalists in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon have been arrested for allegedly having literature linked to the separatists, who complain of being marginalised for decades by the central government and the French-speaking majority.

"When you try to write a report critical of the government side, you're regarded as an enemy, as being on the side of the Ambazonians," Meriline Ngwa, a journalist in the South-West, told the BBC.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Cameroon jails the highest number of journalists in Africa after Egypt and Eritrea – with several imprisoned because of their work since the secessionist uprising began in 2017.

Cameroon separatists go on hunger strike

Sisiku Tabe
Reuters
Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, the leader of the separatist movement who is facing charges of treason, is one of those who have started a hunger strike

Detained leaders of Cameroon's Anglophone separatist movement have begun an indefinite hunger strike.

They say they are concerned over the whereabouts of around 200 of their comrades after riots in two separate prisons last week.

The detainees say they also have fears that a "genocide" of English-speakers in Cameroon will take place.

The secessionist movement has been campaigning to create an independent state called Ambazonia, made up of the North-West and South-West regions - the two English-speaking regions in a country where French is the most widely spoken official language.

Their lawyer Joseph Fru told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme that his clients feared that the "profiling of Ambazonians" by Cameroon authorities was a "prelude to a genocide".

"One of the Cameroon ministers has actually asked that all people of southern Cameroon origins in French-speaking Cameroon should be identified and recorded and they have termed this profiling," he said.

The BBC found no evidence that such profiling is going on in Cameroon.

Political leaders of the Ambazonia movement were arrested in Nigeria in 2018 and transferred to Cameroon where they are facing trial.

Cameroon's English-speakers say they have been marginalised for decades by the central government and the French-speaking majority.

Some of them took up arms in 2017.

Second prison riot in Cameroon

Inmates have burnt down part of a prison in south-west Cameroon in protest over being detained on charges of secession, rebellion and terrorism.

Security forces fired shots and teargas to restore order at the facility in the town of Buea on Tuesday. It is not yet clear if there are any casualties.

A video showing smoke billowing from the prison amid sounds of repeated gunfire was shared online:

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This week there has also been a riot inside a prison in the capital Yaoundé following a protest by inmates accused of involvement in the Anglophone separatist rebellion.

More than 1,000 people have been detained in connection with the conflict which has displaced more than half a million people since it broke out in the country's English-speaking regions in 2016.

The separatists are fighting for a breakaway state they call Ambazonia.

Cameroon blames opposition party for prison riot

Killian Chimtom Ngala

BBC News, Yaoundé

The Cameroon government has blamed supporters of a detained opposition leader, Maurice Kamto, for a riot at a prison in the capital, Yaoundé.

The trouble on Sunday night at the Kondengui maximum security prison saw hundreds of inmates go on a rampage, burning the prison library and infirmary as well as the destruction of a workshop meant for female inmates.

A government official, Jean Claude Tilla, who visited the prison to assess the damage, said that supporters of Mr Kamto's Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM), were the instigators of the violence.

At least 400 of them are still held in different facilities in the country, but it is unclear how many are detained at the prison where the riot took place.

Mr Tilla said supporters of the CRM have been causing trouble in Cameroon prisons since they were detained.

"We know that they are hiding behind the Anglophone problem to foment such trouble,” he told journalists.

The riot was live streamed on Facebook and showed prisoners calling for the release of Anglophone separatist leaders held for over a year now. They chanted pro-independence slogans and described President Paul Biya’s government as incompetent.

Cameroonian security forces restored control after shooting in the air and firing tear gas into the prison.

The Anglophone detainees - many of whom have never been taken to court - were moved to different detention facilities.

The prison, constructed in 1969 for 1,500 people, currently has about 9,000 inmates, 90% of whom have not been charged, according to the justice ministry.

Cameroon prisoners live stream riot

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

There has been a riot at a prison in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, where many people accused of being separatist rebels from the Anglophone regions are being detained.

Inmates at Kondengui maximum security prison live streamed on Facebook the initial protest from their mobile phones.

Protest
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They were chanting pro-independence slogans, calling for an amnesty for all people arrested during the three-year separatist conflict and demanding an immediate ceasefire.

Overnight violence erupted and parts of the prison were set on fire.

Cameroonian security forces restored control after shooting in the air and firing tear gas into the prison.

The Anglophone detainees - many of whom have never been taken to court - were moved to different detention facilities.

UN says 1.3 million people need assistance in Cameroon

Map of Cameroon Anglophone regions
BBC

The United Nations says 1.3 million people are in need of assistance as the humanitarian situation in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon continue to deteriorate.

The UN said around 1,300 people were reportedly displaced last week and that attacks resulted in dozens of civilian deaths, hundreds of houses set ablaze and widespread looting of civilian goods.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said that in these two regions, "the situation continues to be characterised by human rights and protection abuses and violations".

He said despite increased humanitarian needs, Cameroon remains one the most critically under-funded humanitarian responses globally.

The conflict in Cameroon's Anglophone regions has displaced more than half a million people since it broke out in 2016. Separatists are fighting for a breakaway state, they call Ambazonia, in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

During a visit there in May, the UN human rights chief Michele Bachellet warned that the situation looks like it is spiralling out of control.

Cameroon atrocity: What happened after Africa Eye found who killed this woman

Cameroon welcomes home Afcon final referees

Referees don't always get the warmest of welcomes on the pitch, but the Cameroonian officials who oversaw the final of the Africa Cup of Nations have been received home with open arms in the capital, Yaoundé.

Central referee Alioum Sidi and assistants Evariste Mekouandé and Elvis Noupoe were in charge of Friday's final between Algeria and Senegal in Cairo.

All three were received at the airport on Sunday by the president of the Cameroon Football Federation Seidou Mbombo Njoya as well as government authorities and representatives of the referees' association.

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A tweeter posted a picture of the trio driving in an open-roof vehicle and brandishing their medals, to the applause of onlookers as they drove home.

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Cameroon's Indomitable Lions were knocked out of the competition by old rivals Nigeria in the second round. The country is billed to host the next Afcon tournament in 2021.

Cameroon women given decision-making roles in traditional chiefdoms

Leocadia Bongben

BBC Pidgin, Yaounde

Cameroon women chiefs
BBC

At a UN-organised ceremony, nine traditional chiefs in Cameroon's Northern region were congratulated after appointing 123 women to decision-making roles for the first time in their chiefdoms.

It is hoped that the move will mean that those in authority will get to hear about issues affecting women more quickly.

Previously, women were not allowed access to chiefs and had to pass their through their husbands, who then passed it to the men working for the chief. The process often meant that the real message never got through.

The chiefs of Demsa, Tignère, Ngaoundéré, Djerem, de Banyo, de Mokolo, Guider, Logone-Birni and Kousseri made the appointments.

Hafsatou Saidou, one of the women appointed in Banyo, said that she and the others, who had been vocal in the past, had been "perceived in town as women who were out to instigate revolt in marriages".

A health worker by profession, Ms Saidou, will now be hoping to let women know more about what health provision there is for women in the region.

Hafsatou Saidou
BBC
Hafsatou Saidou will be responsible for health issues in her region

Ambazonia separatists had 'no choice' but to take up arms

The fight for a breakaway state in Cameroon's Anglophone regions
The conflict in Cameroon's Anglophone regions has displaced more than half a million people since it broke out in 2016. 

Separatists are fighting for a breakaway state they call Ambazonia in English speaking regions of Cameroon. Government troops have been accused of extra-judicial killings and burning villages but recently there has been a focus on abuses allegedly committed by the many separatist groups too - including kidnappings. 

During a visit there in May, the UN human rights Chief Michele Bachellet warned that the situation looks like it is spiraling out of control. 

One of the Anglophone separatist leaders, Dr Cho Ayaba, of the self-proclaimed 'Ambazonia Governing Council', gives his assessment of the current situation.

(Photo: The wreckage of burnt out car, allegedly destroyed by separatists fighter. Credit: Getty Images)