Situation in North West, South West: Head of State Instructs National Solidarity Plan

Following is the introductory statement of the Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary during a press conference in June 14, 2018 on government’s response to allegations of contained in Amnesty International’s 2017-2018 so-called report on Cameroon.

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“Distinguished Journalists, Ladies and Gentlemen,

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24 hours ahead of the initially announced date, the Amnesty International NGO, has once again published an incriminating report against Cameroon and its army in connection with the security situation prevailing in the North West and South-West regions.

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As in the previous 2016-2017 report, the 2017-2018 edition of Amnesty International report is tainted with filthy lies, hasty inference, unacceptable defamatory tactics that are part of a strategy to harass and destabilize our country in its fight against the terrorist threat.

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The Government of the Republic strongly refutes this so-called report which, under the pretext of the protection of human rights, is nothing but a bunch of approximations and false allegations.

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The reason is that the situation on the ground is at odds with what Amnesty International describes. In fact, in these two regions of our country, terrorist gangs claiming to belong to secessionist movements and benefiting from important support from abroad have decided to respond to the dialogue offered by the Head of State through violence, crime, destruction of property and public buildings, abductions followed by assassinations and ransom claims, and all other forms of barbaric acts prejudicial to the peace and security of the people.

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Faced with this situation, the State's only recourse was nothing but an appropriate response, by virtue of its sovereign duties to preserve the territorial integrity of the nation, to preserve civil peace and protect the populations and their properties.    

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With regard to the content of this so-called report, I would like to illustrate a case which exposes the obvious bad faith of our prosecutors of the moment. According to Amnesty International, the Cameroon Defense and Security Forces have committed serious abuses, some of which, to name a few, targeted the civilian populations of the DADI locality in the Southwest region.

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As it is, what really took place in this area and which is obvious to any observer, is that the people of DADI were taken hostage by terrorists who had enslaved them for several days and set up their base in the area.

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The Defense and Security Forces, informed of the situation, intervened to free these populations and restore their legitimate rights to enable them live in peace and to carry out their business as usual.

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Instead of reporting this situation, Amnesty International has preferred to endorse unjustified accusations with dismal lightness, condoning criminal acts to which the authors of its 2017-2018 report paradoxically attempt to confer credit and legitimacy.

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In so doing, it is deplorable to notice that Amnesty International is taking on the responsibility of compromising by itself the credit that a world-renowned organization should have.

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The caricature mentioned several times, of dangerous criminals presented as peaceful protesters facing the Armed Forces with their bare hands, is simply bewildering when we know, if only by the images broadcast by the terrorists themselves, that these are armed groups equipped with different war machines, including rocket launchers.

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Similarly, how can we understand that the ransacking of schools, the burning of dormitories with defenseless young children, or the physical assaults on schoolchildren be considered as simple acts and tactics of civil disobedience.

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One can also wonder about the methodology used by the authors of this so-called report, to arrive at conclusions which are as absurd as those delivered to us here, when it is known, if we are to go by what was said by this organization itself, that Amnesty International would have interviewed a hundred of individuals whose identities and representativeness on the ground remain unknown.

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There are therefore strong reasons to believe that this is only a question of duplication, certainly created from scratch, engaging into dubious collaborations in order to carry out oriented data collections, while in the field of investigation. It is no news that in such a case, only factual elements lend credibility to results and not the other way round.

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Amnesty International also mentions satellite footage of burnt and ransacked villages. But still, it would be necessary to evidence who are the perpetrators of such violence. The Defense Forces on their part, have irrefutable evidence showing that crimes committed by terrorists are instrumentalized to lead the opinion to believe the contrary, thereby tending to rather present the executioner as a victim.   

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This is not the first time that Amnesty International is so misguided in its methodology and the interpretation of its various observations on its surveys concerning Cameroon.

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One thing is certain in that such methodological distortions and approximate inference give no credit to this so-called report.

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Cameroon is calling on the national and international community to bear witness to the fact that these maneuvers to misinform, certainly in a bid to destabilize our country cannot prosper in the face of a people that is united, and standing behind its leader, the President of the Republic His Excellency Paul BIYA.

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Moreover, and understandably, Cameroon does not expect to be instructed by anyone from outside to take responsibility when evidence of abuse is established, to severely punish any misconduct from the military in operational zones or elsewhere. It should therefore be understood that abuses are not the norm among our Defense Forces or their trademark

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That said, can we admit that a regular army be in this way put on the same footing with criminal and terrorist groups? Can a regular army in a situation of right and duty to defend the territorial integrity and protect the populations and their goods, be weighed against a horde of bloodthirsty terrorists who rape, burn, scam, and transfer their crimes to the account of supposed exactions committed by the army?

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Is such an attitude not a gruesome nonsense that tells us that we are in the presence of a real conspiracy?

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This will be enough to enlighten any observer on our opponents’ project to stigmatize and demonize our Defense and Security Forces.

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As a matter of fact, no one in the world will afford to allow kidnappings, racketeering and rape, looting and murder, blasphemy of symbols and emblems of the Republic, in short, to let unpunished all that disastrous panoply worthy of a syndicate of crime and the severe hostility directed against a fatherland, to flourish under the very eyes of legitimate authorities.

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And as a panacea in the face of such criminal actions that no civilized country can tolerate, Amnesty International is singing the song of dialogue as if we were not aware of its value and virtues.

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Dialogue, yes! But then, what would be the substance of such a dialogue? The partitioning of a territory whose unity has been conquered through long struggles and harsh conciliations for more than a century and bequeathed to us by the founding fathers of the nation?

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Dialogue, yes! But then, with whom should we dialogue? Should we dialogue with gangs of terrorists whose sole purpose is to partition our nation and, above it all, by sowing death and desolation to the detriment of all the core values of the Republic and against innocent civilians?

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This is possible nowhere in the world.

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In any case, the Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and behind him the entire Nation, reiterate their support and renew their congratulations to our Defense and Security Forces for their sense of honour, their bravery, their selflessness and their professionalism in the execution of their missions.

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On behalf of the Government, I would like to reassure all of our populations that the situation in the North-West and South-West Regions is closely monitored for a quick return to normal.

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To conclude, allow me to inform the national and international opinion that the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA, has just instructed that a national plan of solidarity with our compatriots from the regions concerned be implemented.

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To this end, in the next few days, a Government mission will meet our fellow refugees in Nigeria to create conditions for their return to their respective localities.

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