Youth shot dead in Cameroon’s troubled anglophone region

A pedestrian walks in a street of Buea some 60 kms west of Douala, on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 01 October 2017
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Youth shot dead in Cameroon’s troubled anglophone region

BUEA, Cameroon: A young man from Cameroon’s English-speaking region was shot dead by security forces on the eve of an expected symbolic declaration of independence by anglophone separatists, medical and security forces told AFP Sunday.
“They fired at him during a security operation” in the city of Kumba, a nurse who requested anonymity told AFP. The incident was confirmed by a security source and several local residents contacted by phone.
Kumba is known as a rebellious city since the start of protests by the anglophone minority last November, with clashes erupting between security forces and the local population.
The majority of Cameroon’s 22 million people are French-speaking, while about a fifth is English-speaking.
The legacy dates back to 1961, when a formerly British entity, Southern Cameroons, united with Cameroon after its independence from France in 1960.
The anglophone minority has long complained about disparities in sharing out Cameroon’s oil wealth.
On Sunday, the date of the official reunification of the anglophone and francophone parts of Cameroon, the anglophone separatists are expected to make a symbolic proclamation of independence for Ambazonia, the name of the state they want to create.
On Thursday, the Cameroonian authorities announced a temporary curb on travel and public meetings across the Southwest Region, adding to a curfew in the neighboring Northwest Region, also English-speaking.
In Buea, the southwest’s main city, the streets were mostly deserted early Sunday as security forces patrolled the area including where the separatists are expected to gather, an AFP correspondent reported.
“I can’t go out, they asked us to stay home,” said one city resident who identified herself just as Nancy.
“Everyone is afraid... it’s not good,” added another resident Thom.
Since November 2016, the anglophone minority has been protesting against perceived discrimination, especially in education and the judicial system, where they say the French language and traditions are being imposed on them, even though English is one of the country’s two official languages.
Most anglophone campaigners want the country to resume a federalist system — an approach that followed the 1961 unification but was later scrapped in favor of a centralized government run from the capital Yaounde. A hard-line minority is calling for secession.
Both measures are opposed by the country’s long-ruling president, 84-year-old Paul Biya.


UN Security Council to visit Myanmar and Bangladesh as it eyes action on Rohingya crisis

Updated 41 min 10 sec ago
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UN Security Council to visit Myanmar and Bangladesh as it eyes action on Rohingya crisis

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council will pay a visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar beginning Saturday as it weighs next steps to address one of the world’s worst refugee crises, stemming from the forced exodus of Muslim Rohingya.
Myanmar has come under international scrutiny since a military campaign launched in August drove more than 700,000 Rohingya from their homes in northern Rakhine state and into crowded camps in Bangladesh.
The council is urging Myanmar to allow their safe return and take steps to end decades of discrimination that the Muslim minority has suffered in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
The visit kicks off in the camps of Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh where ambassadors will meet refugees, whose harrowing accounts of killings, rape and the torching of villages at the hands of Myanmar’s military and militias have been documented in UN human rights reports.
Led by Kuwait, Britain and Peru, the four-day visit is expected to include a trip by helicopter to Rakhine to allow ambassadors to tour villages affected by the violence, including Pan Taw Pyin and Shwe Zar.
The council will hold talks with Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been criticized for failing to speak out in defense of the Rohingya, and with Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi said the visit was not about “naming and shaming” Myanmar, but that “the message will be very clear for them: the international community is following the situation and has great interest in resolving it.”
“We are coming to see how can we help, how can we push things forward,” he said, stressing that the current situation was “not acceptable.”
“700,000 people have fled their country and they cannot go back. It’s a humanitarian disaster.”
After months of deliberations, Myanmar finally agreed this month to allow the council to visit as the government rejected accusations from the United Nations and Western countries that the attacks against the Rohingya were ethnic cleansing.
Myanmar has said the military operation in Rakhine is aimed at rooting out extremists.
British Ambassador Karen Pierce said it was “incredibly important” for the council to see the situation on the ground as it considers “what needs to be done next to help Myanmar develop as a modern, political and economic entity.”
The United States and its European partners in the council have faced strong opposition to action on the Rohingya crisis from China, a supporter of Myanmar’s former ruling junta.
The council adopted a statement in November that called on Myanmar to rein in its military, but there has been no resolution, a stronger measure that China would likely block as one of the veto-wielding permanent members.
“This trip represents an opportunity for the council to press the reset button,” said Akshaya Kumar, UN deputy director for Human Rights Watch.
“They have taken almost no action,” she said.
“So if this trip is what is needed to spur them to actually respond to the gravity of an ethnic cleansing on their watch, then we’ll be waiting for a resolution when they return.”
The president of the International Red Cross, which is providing aid to those affected by the violence in Rakhine, said the Myanmar government is rebuilding villages and taking steps to allow the Rohingya to return.
“But what we see is that people don’t yet trust that this will give them safety and security,” said Peter Maurer.
“We are at the beginning of the such a confidence-building process. It’s a very long way to go,” Maurer told reporters.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday announced the appointment of Christine Schraner Burgener, Switzerland’s ambassador to Germany, as his new special envoy to Myanmar, following a months-long search for an emissary.