Stunned by the level of hate speech in Cameroon, the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (“CHRDA”), has appealed to Francophones and Anglophones to exercise restraint.
It urged the citizens of the language and regional divide to refrain from hate speech and retaliation against one another.
It demanded the government to immediately work with all parties to have a dialogue and end the Anglophone crisis.
CHRDA said it was stunned by the trends of events in the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon and by the degeneration of events tending to affect neighbouring Francophone Region of the West Region.
“Because of these, CHRDA alerts the government of an impending hate crime, retaliatory ethnic conflict, indoctrination and violent extremism as a result of cross-regional attacks from armed separatist groups and villagers of affected communities.’’
It noted that the weekends preceding Christmas day, news from media and individuals reported an arson attack allegedly led by hundreds of armed men (reportedly 300 in number) from Bangolan (in Babessi sub-division in the Northwest Region) targeting a village in Bangourain, a sub-division in the neighboring Noun Division.
The attack led to the destruction of dozens of houses (reportedly at least 85 affecting over 100 families), the death of at least one person, wounding several others, abduction of at least 15 persons and causing heavy material and financial losses of other infrastructures.
On 26 December, the previous weekend attack saw retaliation (as alleged by several other sources) by residents of the affected neighbourhood in Bangourain, where two persons suspected to be arsonists were apprehended, lynched, before being dragged on the ground attached to motor bikes with chains.
“This hate rhetoric on both sides must come to an end as it reminds us of America in 1998 when James Byrd Jr was killed by lynching and dragged by three white supremacists through the State of Texas.
“The nation as a whole condemned this repugnant act and found a solution for hate crime.
“ Cameroonians are called upon to exhibit togetherness and condemn these happenings as a nation, regardless of their ethnic, religious, political, ideological, cultural or economic denominations.
“The scenes and stories are horrible and should appeal to government’s foresight to begin taking the Anglophone Crisis more seriously and engage in more genuine peace-building processes.’’
Francophones and Anglophones sharing similar boundaries in neighbouring localities across Cameroon should exercise restraint and avoid involving themselves in actions that may further endanger human life.
They should avoid actions that could cause injuries, destroy private and public property, cause material and financial losses, and aggravate the already preoccupying tensions between the populace, government forces and separatist groups, it said.
It appealed to the government to initiate investigations into the happenings and sought justice where necessary, reparation, and reconciliation of parties to the conflicts.