Defense Minister acknowledges violence against English-speaking separatist

Cameroon’s defense minister, Joseph Beti Assomo on Tuesday acknowledged “acts contrary to human rights” by the army during the arrest of a suspected leader of the English-speaking separatist movement.

The government forces “clearly strayed from the legal norms and techniques in such circumstances,” Beti Assomo told state radio after video of the arrest was widely shared on social media.

This is the first time the army has acknowledged abuses committed by security forces deployed in the anglophone regions since clashes erupted at the end of 2017.

“An investigation has been opened to identify (and) where appropriate, sanction the perpetrators of these acts, which are contrary to the respect for human rights,” said the minister.

A quick piece of video circulating on social media shows a man covered in mud, tied up and brutalized by soldiers. The information attached on the video revealed that the event, occurred on Saturday, May 12 in Cameroon. In the video a gendarme strikes him repeatedly on the soles of his feet, using the flat side of the blade of a machete. Another keeps him on the ground with a chair. We also see another policeman climbing on the man’s head, giving the impression of wanting to strangle him.

Some 160,000 people have fled their homes in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions because of violence between anglophone separatists and government forces, the United Nations reports.

The separatists — whose death toll is unknown — are accused of kidnappings officials and other French-speaking Cameroonians, while the army is accused of abuses and burning houses.


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