By Yerima Kini Nsom
That a trigger-happy gendarme brutally abridged the life of the little angel, Carolaise Enondiale Tchuengia, in Buea last week – is just a byword of the military barbarism that the civilian population is seething through in the two crisis-ravaged regions. The incident, cruel as it was, triggered a combination of a profound sense of shock, consternation and frustration on the entire nation. Small wonder that it attracted condemnation from people of all walks of life.
The crowd that came out had all the massiveness and hurly-burly of collective anger. It showed its grouse against the iron wilderness of a sustained procession of military violence in the two regions. Such incidents in which civilians are collateral victims of the crisis are many. Yet, the military has often dismissed them as acts from misguided elements of the army. From every indication, such acts are becoming too many and too regular that even the waters of a thousand rivers cannot wash the army clean of the extrajudicial killing of civilians. This explain why human rights lawyer, Barrister Felix Agbor Balla, is cautioning soldiers not to behave like elements of an army of occupation with a life and death hold on Anglophone citizens.
There can never be any justification for such act on a school-going pupil at a time that government has been desperately making efforts for children to go back to school in the two regions. Spin doctors’ claim that the mother of the victim refused to respect the gendarme’s orders for her to stop, smacks of a thinly-veiled justification for such cruelty. Such lame justification is a demonic attempt to flare tensions. They also claim that the woman did not allow the gendarme to search her car and that gendarme was firing shots into the air before a stray bullet caught the child in the car. From the look of things, someone is mistaking Cameroonians for a bunch of nincompoops with hard holes on their brains. For, the gendarmes had all the means of stopping that woman without shooting fatally. The fact that child’s brain was blown off indicates that the gendarme shot on target at close range.
Thus, dilly-dallying, while inventing more excuses, instead of hitting the facts on the head and calling issues by their real names on this matter, will not get us out of this predicament. It is incumbent on military officials to stem the tides of these human rights exactions in order to rescue the image of the army from the gnawing fangs of public opinion. By the way, it is more traumatic when people whose duties are to protect the citizens’ lives are the very ones killing them with ease.
Again, such acts leave a lot of scars on people’s minds when they are committed by the forces that have been trained to use the gun under the law and not above the law. For one thing, the Buea infanticide emerges triumphantly as a major element in the scale of hurdles impeding Prime Minister Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute’s efforts at soothing nerves in order to bring back peace to the regions.
Since his appointment in 2019, Dion Ngute has stood tall as the proverbial workhorse who has been labouring himself grey to bring back peace to the two regions. But, some forces in the establishment seem to be so determined to erode his peace efforts with impunity.
Otherwise, how does it happen that it is only after the Prime Minister had preached peace in Bamenda the other day that the Kikaikom village in Bui Division was set ablaze? Who does not want President Paul Biya’s peace apostle to succeed in his mission? Who are these forces in the establishment that are so committed in bloodying government’s reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts? Is it not nation-killing cacophony when some misguided elements are allowed to ensanguine the Prime Minister’s peace efforts, thereby triggering a subconscious cultivation of anti-military sentiments?
It is sad when some security officers behave as if every Anglophone is a separatist fighter. The life of the civilian population is a running battle of fear, stress and frustration. They are harassed from both sides of the belligerence. They are tortured and kidnapped for ransom and even killed.
They are victims of blind security raids, arbitrary arrest, false imprisonment, extortion, torture and extrajudicial killings.
The timing of the Buea incident carries the potency of a sabotage and damper. It was virtually a jinx for a government that is dogged by so much adversity, nationally and internationally, on human rights issues. No doubt, grappling with the crisis, is not an easy thing for government. But the authorities should do everything possible to cushion the wanton abuse of human rights by the forces. Enlisting the services of intellectual mercenaries to churn out lame arguments against hard facts, is counter-productive. This should be taken seriously because the injustices are swelling like a river that will soon overflow its bounds. How can the authorities maintain silence and inaction over the arrest and jailing of an 8-month pregnant lady on trumped up charges? How can the arrest of a desperate 30-year old girl help to solve the crisis? The torture of that girl and her unborn child, is an indication that we no longer value human life and dignity.
The cheapest way to arrest our current predicament is to give peace a chance at all costs and there cannot be true peace without justice. Thus, we cannot use one injustice to justify another and expect to have peace. It is incumbent on the authorities to mainstream peace in every action they take in the Anglophone crisis.
Authors of violence in the two regions should stop and think over their actions. For, when the chips come down, they will not be able to bury their misdeeds and atrocities under the rubble of collective guilt. Those who claim to love Cameroon and President Paul Biya more than anyone else should demonstrate such affection by helping to provide a peaceful solution to the Anglophone crisis.
The cunning evasiveness of the truth of our suffering will continue to haunt us like a ghost. The most precious gift one can offer Cameroon now is peace. Peace, peace we need. Peace be with you all.