January 23, 2007

UNPO Appeals against Arrests in Southern Cameroons

The Hague, 23 January 2007 - UNPO is deeply concerned about the condition of several senior leaders of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) who were arrested during a peaceful press conference in Bamenda, Southern Cameroons, on 20 January 2007. UNPO has sent the following appeal, calling for their immediate release and an end to such acts of oppression, to numerous international instructions, as well as the Government of the Republic of Cameroon.

 

On 20 January 2007, members of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) assembled some 300 civilians and journalists for a press conference in Bamenda, Southern Cameroons. The press conference was intended to inform people from the Southern Cameroons of recent efforts to bring international attention to their cause, in particular through an extensive overseas mission by SCNC Vice Chairman Mr. Nfor Ngala Nfor.

Shortly after the opening of the press conference, the location was raided by armed officers of the Gendarmerie and Divisional Officers from the Mezam region. Witnesses report that the all individuals attending the press conference were detained by the officers whilst they attempted to identify and isolate members of the SCNC. Reports also detail the use of excessive force, resulting in a large number of injuries to SCNC members, as well as unaffiliated civilians. Identified members of the SCNC Council were subsequently loaded into armed security vehicles and transported away.

At present the condition and location of a number of senior members of the SCNC remains unknown.

SCNC Vice Chairperson Mr. Nfor Ngala Nfor was arrested, severely beaten, and transported to an undisclosed location. Since returning to the Southern Cameroons Mr. Nfor has been under constant surveillance, and his safety is therefore the subject of great concern.

In addition, the following SCNC Members remain in detention, under what are described as deplorable conditions:

Mbinglo H. Humphrey (65), Chairman, Northern Zone
Stephen Kongso (45), Bui County Chairman
Henry Lamnyam (35), Secretary,  Donga Mantung County
Achu Njie David (56), Organising Secretary, Mezam County
Mongo Stephen (43), Activist, Bamenda LGA
Che Ngwa Lucas (59), Activist
Madame Mbi Ann Rita (60), Activist, Kumba LGA
Augustine Elimtum (33), Activist
Clement Atanga (60), Activist
Dr. Tantoh Simon (65), National Information Desk
Mami Mbiwan Anna (75), Adviser, Kumba LGA
Lawrence Nyuydze (35), Activist, Bamenda LGA
Augustine Shintum, Activist, Kumba LGA

UNPO unreservedly condemns this clear breach of the human rights of those working peacefully for the betterment of the people of Southern Cameroons. UNPO is also particularly distressed by concerted efforts to persecute members of the SCNC, a Member representative organ of UNPO recognised for its non-violent principles and dedicated work in promoting human rights and the rights of the Southern Cameroons people. Previous incidents of arrest and detention in Southern Cameroons have resulted in significant injuries and even death, and UNPO remains therefore extremely concerned for the fate and well-being of those who remain in custody.

UNPO has therefore appealed for international institutions, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to;

Call upon the authorities of the Republic of Cameroon to end the unlawful persecution of the people of Southern Cameroons, as well those working to promote and protect their economic, political, and human rights;

Call for the immediate and unconditional release of all members of the SCNC, who work in accordance with principles of peace and non-violence, and who were arrested during an entirely peaceful and lawful assembly of the Southern Cameroons community; and

Remind the Government of the Republic of Cameroon of its obligations under internationally recognized human rights standards to provide for freedom of speech, freedom of association, as well as their duty to protect those promoting the cause of human rights.

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