UN and the S. Cameroons Situation: As Francophone troops kills civilians, People arrested in Church in Buea,
The real world social network of the church is also under attack: for example, on October 8 people in churches in Buea were arrested en masse. Commemorations of those killed to date are scheduled for October 14. What is and will be the role of religious leaders in this unfolding crackdown? Involved in the blocking of Internet and social networks is not only MTN but also France’s Orange, which has said “our Group operates in Cameroon through a subsidiary Orange Cameroun which complies with the local legislation and therefore obeys to any national security instruction received from the authorities in accordance with its Telecommunications License.” Orange is a member of the UN Global Compact, which offers “blue-washing” of such human rights violations, as first reported by Inner City Press now for a fee from companies like Orange.
The UN’s insufficient actions on, some say even complicity with, censorship and now mass killing are growing, and are increasingly being raised, in Geneva and not only at the Inter-Continental Hotel where Biya lives while ordering killings and cover ups. We’ll have more on this. On October 7-8, despite belated calls from Geneva and an unapologetic Guterres, restrictions on movement and free association are being extended, for example in Manyu Division, Mamfe Town and elsewhere. Will there be any follow through by the UN on its statements, or just more “welcoming” of Biya? When will the already postponed visit by the UN’s Francois Fall occur, to where and with whom, and what will it accomplish?
On October 5 Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, who earlier this year told Inner City Press the UK did not view the situation in Cameroon as a threat to international peace and security but would continue to monitor it, if the threshold has been reached and the UK will ask for a UN Security Council meeting. He said no one has asked and the UK continues to weigh the pro and con of putting it on the Council’s agenda (along with Myanmar, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Colombia and others).
Earlier Inner City Press asked Francois Delattre, the UN Ambassador of France and President of the UN Security Council for October, why he has not yet convened a Security Council meeting amid the killings of civilians and cutting off of social networks in Cameroon. Delattre said the French Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson has spoken earlier in the day, again calling for dialogue. We’ll have more on this. Guterres’ spokespeople have three times refused Inner City Press’ request for the UN’s estimate of how many people have been killed by Paul Biya’s forces since Guterres offered him praise on September 22. Now, the US State Department through its spokesperson Heather Nauert has said, “The United States is deeply concerned about violence and the loss of human life in protests that have taken place in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon since October 1. The Cameroonian government’s use of force to restrict free expression and peaceful assembly, and violence by protestors, are unacceptable. We urge the Government of Cameroon to respect human rights and freedom of expression, including access to the internet. We call on all sides to exercise restraint from further violence, and engage in dialogue for a peaceful, durable resolution.” Tellingly, the Secretary General of the Francophonie Michaëlle Jean has while expressing “concern” said that “Violence should never be a means of expressing grievances.” So Biya, who is killing, is doing so to express grievances? Or “pour se fair entendre”? We’ll have more on this. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said nothing. Nothing, from a man who issued a statement about critical tweets directed at a UN official. His New York representative, as Inner City Press reported at the time, was not (invited to be?) present at Guterres’ now infamous grip and grin meet with Biya on September 22, 2017. What has been the role of the totally untransparent UN Department of Political Affairs, under Jeffrey Feltman? Today’s UN system is hypocritical, and failing. In Mamfe and elsewhere, Republique du Cameroun forces are reportedly shooting people in the feet and legs to prevent their peaceful protest, while Guterres tells Anglophones to take advantage of this “opportunity” and be sure to stay with the LRC Constitution. Tell that to, as only one of many examples, Benjamin Amin, a young tech-savvy Anglophone who returned from studies in India only to be shot and killed by Biya’s forces in Kumba on October 1.
Inner City Press on the morning of October 3 again asked Guterres top three spokespeople, “what is the UN’s estimate of the number of civilians killed since September 27? And what is the UN’s awareness of the Cameroon government’s restrictions on the media and other attempts to restrict freedom of association, speech and belief? Where does the UN understand President Paul Biya to be, and his role in these restrictions? On deadline.” Lead spokesman Dujarric replied, “On Cameroon, we have nothing to add to what I said at today’s briefing” – which, beyond the previous night’s canned statement, below, was: “the issue of Special Rapporteurs is one that the Secretary-General… that’s outside of the authority of the Secretary-General. I think we’ve had a number of diplomatic contacts at various levels with the Cameroonian authorities. We’ve expressed our concern at the ongoing situation, especially at the violence and at the loss of life that we’ve seen. We’ve seen that the authorities have called for dialogue, and we encourage those leaders in the anglophone community to seize that opportunity.” Who is seizing whom? Previously with the UN silent for more than a day after Inner City Press submitted written questions to it on Cameroon – its High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid spoke on Catalonia but not Cameroon – Amnesty International issued a statement that “the reported unlawful killing of several people in the Anglophone regions by the security forces coupled with the blocks on Facebook and WhatsApp represent an extremely worrying escalation of the government’s on-going campaign to silence any form of dissent in the West and South-West regions of Cameroon.”
At the UN’s October 2 noon briefing, lead UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric wasn’t there; his deputy Farhan Haq had nothing at the top, vaguely alluded to statements, no answer. Haq emailed Inner City Press: “On Cameroon, we are awaiting a statement, which should come out shortly; maybe not by noon, though.” By 10 pm, still nothing. Finally at 10:30 pm, 29 hours after Inner City Press asked the UN how many civilians it acknowledged Biya has killed, the UN issues this with no estimate: “Further to his statement of 28 September, the Secretary-General remains deeply concerned about the situation in Cameroon and strongly condemns the acts of violence reported in the South-West and North-West regions of the country on 1 October, including reported loss of life. He calls on the Cameroonian authorities to investigate these incidents and urges political leaders on both sides to appeal to their followers to refrain from any further acts of violence, and to unequivocally condemn all actions that undermine the peace, stability and unity of the country. The Secretary-General takes note of the calls by the authorities for dialogue and encourages representatives of the Anglophone community to seize the opportunity in their quest for solutions to the community’s grievances, within the framework of the Cameroonian constitution. The Secretary-General reiterates the support of the United Nations for such efforts, through the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA).” Pathetic. Or to be more charitable, too little too late. Meanwhile the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Cameroon was robo-tweeting pablum about World Non-Violence Day, and France’s Ambassador Gilles Thibault was expressing support to Yaounde (for flora and fauna).
Culled from Inner Press