Students from the MPhil/LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation (HRDA) programme at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, held a vigil at the Future Africa Campus on 28 May 2021. The vigil was held to mourn the lost lives in Cameroon as a result of the ongoing conflict. The conflict is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of over 2000 lives and displaced over 60 000 Cameroonians. The vigil was held under the auspices of the relaunch of the #StopCameroonViolations campaign.
The crisis in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon started in October 2016, following a series of sit-in strikes and protests. In response to government action, schools and courts in the two regions were boycotted. The government’s response to the strikes and protest action in 2016 was to order the army and security forces to violently disperse protesters; and to try forcing children to go back to school. Instead of entering into dialogue with the people in the two regions, the government authorised troops to use lethal force against unarmed protesters.
At the vigil, students from various regions in Africa called on the government of Cameroon and other groups who are fueling the conflict in Cameroon to put a stop to it. They raised concerns of the lost lives and the potential effect of the conflict on other Africans. They set to remind the government of Cameroon of its commitment to human rights treaties both at the regional and international levels. They also called on the government to use its state power to foster unity and togetherness.
From information collected through media reports, statements, African Union documents and United Nations documents and through the #StopCameroonViolations campaign, the Centre for Human Rights aims to draw wide attention to some of the facts about what is presently happening in Cameroon; particularly, the serious and massive human rights violations being committed by the government.
Many of these facts also appear from the process of UN human rights treaty bodies examining Cameroon’s periodic reports (see the Concluding Observations of the UN Human Rights Committee, CCPR/C/CMR/CO/5, 30 November 2017; and Concluding Observations of the CAT Committee, CAT/C/CMR/CO/5, 18 December 2017).