Cameroon’s Ambazonia separatists have not carried out torture, insists leader | World News
The leader of an independence movement in Cameroon has denied his forces have committed crimes against humanity and demanded the international community recognise the Anglophone region as a separate state.
Speaking to Sky News, Dr Cho Ayaba said the humanitarian situation in the Central African country was “spiralling out of control”.
The battle for independence in Cameroon’s western region – which separatists call Ambazonia – is spiralling into a civil war and more than a million people need aid.
Sky News has reported how children and teachers in the region face being killed or tortured if they break the separatists’ boycott of government schools and institutions – an attempt to force negotiations with the country’s Francophone rulers.
However, Dr Ayaba insisted his forces are not involved in such brutality.
He told Sky’s All Out Politics programme: “No, our forces are not responsible for crimes against humanity.
“We have a disciplined force that respects its code of conduct that is drafted to reflect the spirit of the Geneva Convention.”
Dr Ayaba claimed the acts had been committed by people masquerading as separatists who want to “create a sense of chaos within our war of independence”.
As both sides in the conflict blame each other for the violence, he said people in the mainly English-speaking region had long faced brutality and torture from Cameroonian forces.
“Even before the war our country had been subjected to a level of impunity that is highly documented,” he said.
Dr Ayaba said he was shocked that the “world has not said anything or held Cameroon accountable for crimes against humanity”.
Sky’s Alex Crawford, in her special report, painted a grim picture of life in the region under the separatists’ campaign.
She described “staggering” savagery, including a seven-year-old boy killed on his way to school, and that about 600,000 children were being denied an education.
Crawford also said the independence movement had also spawned militia groups who rob soldiers and police of weapons and instil fear by “arresting” those they deem to be disobeying orders, imposing “fines” and “justice”.
Dr Ayaba, however, has claimed that the Cameroonian military is killing its own soldiers and blaming the deaths on the separatists.
He told Sky News that Cameroon had now “lost legitimacy” in the region and had been “defeated”, claiming his forces now control 80% of the territory.
“It is time for the international community to recognise the new owner of the country and help us set up a transitional authority that will address the grim humanitarian situation,” said Dr Ayaba.
He said talks about potential mediation had been held and that Switzerland has shown “willingness” to help.
“There is a lot that needs to be done for proper mediation to take place,” he added.
“Cameroon has to show its willingness to sit around the table and end the occupation within Ambazonia.
“The international community that failed us in 1961 by abdicating its role – especially the United Kingdom – must be ready that once there is a settlement they will be ready to implement the outcome of such a negotiated settlement.”