Jan 21, 2007

Southern Cameroons: Mass Arrests

Police ransack a SCNC press conference and arrest hundreds of participants, including SCNC Vice Chairman and UNPO Member Representative Nfor Ngala Nfor.

UNPO has received disturbing reports that heavily armed police and gendarmes, a military unit, from La Republique du Cameroun have raided a press conference hosted by the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) in Bamenda, Southern Cameroons on Saturday 20 January 2007.

The press conference was aimed at informing the public of SCNC Vice Chairman and UNPO Member Representative Nfor Ngala Nfor’s recent missions in Europe, the United States and Asia. An estimated 300 member of the Southern Cameroons community, along with journalists and human rights activists were attending the press conference.

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 for several hours 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), Organizing Secretary,
                Mezam County 
*        Dr. Tantoh Simon (65), National Information Desk
*        Mami Mbiwan Anna (75), Advisor, Kumba LGA
*        Mongo Stephen (43), Activist, Bamenda LGA
*        Che Ngwa Lucas (59), Activist
*        Madame Mbi Ann Rita (60),
Activist, Kumba LGA
*        Augustine Elimtum (33), Activist, Kumba LGA
*        Clement Atanga (60), Activist
*        Lawrence Nyuydze (35), Activist, Bamenda LGA
*        Augustine Shintum, Activist, Kumba LGA

This action constitutes flagrant disrespect for the basic human right of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, and UNPO strongly condemns what can only be seen as a measure of censorship and repression conducted by La Republique du Cameroun.

UNPO has made extensive appeals for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained, and for the protection of their right to continue activities in peaceful pursuit of human rights for the people of Southern Cameroons.

A demonstration has also been organized to take place on Thursday 25 December 2007 at the Cameroonian Embassy from 11.00 to 13.00 in the Hague, The Netherlands.