Did you know that the heavy deployment of the military to towns and rural areas has dreadful consequences?
Militarization is the process by which a society organizes itself for military conflict and violence.
For some months now, English speaking regions of Cameroon have witnessed this. Protests by citizens in these regions have triggered the heavy presence of the military several times, in a bid to restore peace and order and lately to prevent Anglophone secessionists from declaring their independence.
The situation represents a significant national security threat, which for some will justify the increasing militarisation of the North West and South West Regions. This process has grievous consequences, which to some is a normal thing as it happens in other parts of the world; but should this be the reason why helpless citizens are abused daily in these regions?
It is not a coincidence that the economies of these two regions are falling apart while the other eight regions do not really suffer from this. The peacefulness of these regions has been distorted as people feel it is no longer safe for inhabitance because of the fear of the unknown.
Troops deployed ahead of Anglophone independence declaration
From the 29th of September the government deployed troops to Anglophone regions as activists planned to declare symbolic independence from cameroon’s French-speaking areas.
Businesses were shuttered in the regions’ main cities, Buea and Bamenda, where military helicopters circled overhead. The security deployment included troops from the Cameroonian army’s Rapid Intervention Brigade (BIR), a unit that typically fights Islamist Boko Haram militants in the country’s north.
Police were positioned on rooftops and at key crossroads in Bamenda. Few residents emerged from their homes.
What went wrong on October 1st?
Amnesty International confirmed up to 17 people being kill by security forces during protests in some of Cameroon’s Anglophone towns. Though government put the figure at about 10. But some local and regional activist groups have put the number as high as 100 killed.
International and local media reports said security forces opened fire on protesters in Bamenda, Buea and several other towns. The killings took place despite a call for restraint made by the UN secretary general.
What are the deployed troops up to?
There have been complaints from eye witnesses on raiding and looting of homes, abducting and arresting of people and locking them up without any charges, some of them negotiate to be released by offering money to the police. Last Sunday, half of worshippers of Catholic Church mile 16 arrested were arrested.
The man-made crisis has been threatening to do further damage to Cameroon’s already battered economy. The government’s rough approach has only likely worsened that impact.
After the recent mass protests, some residents in the North West and South West regions have been declared missing by family members. A few days after the Oct. 1 clashes, four bodies with bullet wounds were discovered at a local cemetery in the city of Buea. Eye witnesses suggested they may have been shot by military helicopters that surveyed the demonstrations.
Now what actually is the role of the troops in these regions and for how long will they be there? It appears they have done very little or nothing to resolve restlessness in these regions.