Oct 31, 2005

UNPO to UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Abuses in Southern Cameroons

The Hague, 31 October 2005-

On 31 October 2005 UNPO addressed an appeal to United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi A. Annan following growing concern about the situation in Southern Cameroons. An excerpt of the appeal is posted below.

UNPO is deeply concerned about the ongoing situation in Southern Cameroons, former UN Trust Territory under United Kingdom Administration, which since 1961 has been under the occupation of Cameroon. UNPO is working closely with representatives in the region, and reports on the current situation coming from the region cause grounds for great concern. Recent events bear evidence of unjust arrests, torture and arbitrary detention of Southern Cameroonians. On 01 October 2005, the celebration of the 44th Anniversary of Independence of Southern Cameroons was abruptly stalled by mobilized armed forces of Cameroon. In Djottin, Bui County more than 100 Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) leaders and supporters were arrested and put under house arrest by armed forces for more than four hours to prevent their hoisting the Southern Cameroons Flag, singing the National Anthem and carrying out the celebrations as planned.

Southern Cameroonians, and in particular representatives of the SCNC, are under constant fear of becoming subject to ill-treatment and unjust imprisonment. Arbitrary arrests of SCNC members have recently continued with greater frequency. On 29 September 2005, Mr. Sam Tabuh, Donga Mantung County Chair and his brother Mr. Jackson Tabuh were arrested in the early morning and taken straight to prison. They were later joined by Pastor Elias Chem, and Mr. Vitalis Nfor, who had been arrested in Mbaw-nso. On the evening of 30 September 2005, Pastor Joseph Nformi of Mbort was arrested and detained at Nkambe.

On 26 October 2005 Chief Ette Otun Ayamba, the National Chairman of the SCNC, was put under arbitrary arrest during a non-violent manifestation near a detention camp in Mamfe. Chief Ayamba was heading a delegation of SCNC members peacefully protesting against the inhumane treatment meted out to some 40 SCNC members arrested and detained since 22 October 2005. Chief Ayamba was granted bail on 27 October, but in the morning of 31 October he was again imprisoned, following a search of his house.

The situation in Southern Cameroons has not seen significant improvements since grave human rights violations were brought to the attention of the international community. The Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favour of the independence of Southern Cameroons on April 19, in 1961. This decision was recorded in Resolution 1608 (XV), which laid the basis for the formation of a federal union of two states of equal status between the Southern Cameroons and Cameroon. However, this resolution was never implemented, and the Southern Cameroons remain without the privileges that the status of a federal union would have entailed, accompanied with all consequences this brings.

On basis of the above UNPO appeals to the UN Secretary General:

to urge the Security Council to take measures in relation to the ongoing grave human rights violations occurring in Southern Cameroons, in order to avoid a major conflict in the region;

to urge for the immediate release of SCNC Chairman Chief Ette Otun Ayamba and ensure the safety of SCNC representatives in their endeavours to find a non-violent solution to the current situation;

and to take measures that address incidents of arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings of Southern Cameroonians.