Escalating violence in Cameroon, including graphic violence against women and children, has drawn condemnation from the World Council of Churches (WCC).
“The World Council of Churches condemns all forms of violence in Cameroon and calls on the government to stop using any force to punish its people in the English-speaking region of Cameroon,” said Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC acting general secretary, commenting on the current cycle of violence in the Central African country.
“Cameroon authorities must immediately cease the use of disproportionate and deadly force against civilians and protect the human rights of all,” she added.
The incidents are part of increasing violence against civilians in Cameroon, where, in the last three years, the Cameroonian military has been waging a multifront war against Anglophone separatists, especially in the western part of the country, and against Boko Haram in the north.
Phiri also called for prayers for peace in Cameroon and reaffirmed the WCC’s solidarity with the estimated 160,000 civilians who have been displaced by the fighting.
In recent weeks, a video that appears to show Cameroonian soldiers in the Mayo-Tsanaga region executing two women, a young girl and a baby was widely circulated on social media, bringing to light one of the atrocious aspects of the conflict. Another video was broadcast in June showing soldiers wearing Cameroonian uniforms setting fire to two houses in a village located in the English-speaking region of the country.
The government of Cameroon initially denounced the Mayo-Tsanaga video as “fake news” but has since announced a formal investigation and arrested four soldiers.
Phiri also noted the severe gender injustice going on in Cameroon. “As in most conflict situations worldwide, violence disproportionally affects women, who become especially vulnerable when law and order break down,” she said.
The Presbyterian Church in Cameroon in July organized a “Week of Prayer for Cameroon in Times of Crisis,” calling for repentance, a cease fire and a peace plan. The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) is planning a solidarity visit to Cameroon.
There is growing concern that upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for 7 October, will lead to further intensification and militarization of the conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982 and announced on 13 July that he will be running for a seventh term.