Thursday, February 27, 2020

Ngarbuh Scene: the entire Human Rights Watch report that overwhelms the army

As promised, the international NGO has released a multi-page document detailing the Ngarbuh massacres that took place on February 13, 2020 in northwest Cameroon. The evidence and material provided in this document once again overwhelms the military, which had denied the killings in question.


At least 21 dead in an attack on the village of Ngarbuh; Independent investigation needed (Nairobi) - Government forces and armed people of the Peuhl ethnic group killed at least 21 civilians, including 13 children and a pregnant woman, on February 14, 2020 in the village of Ngarbuh in Cameroon. They also torched five houses, looted many other possessions and beat residents. The corpses of some of the victims were found charred in their home. 

The government denies that its troops deliberately committed crimes. "The murders of civilians, including children, committed in horrible conditions are heinous crimes which should be investigated effectively and independently and those responsible should be brought to justice," said researcher Ilaria Allegrozzi senior on Africa at Human Rights Watch. "Denying that these crimes have been committed adds to the trauma suffered by the survivors and will only encourage government troops to commit other atrocities." 

Human Rights Watch interviewed 25 people, including three witnesses to the murders and seven relatives of the victims, about these events in Ngarbuh, in the Donga Mantung division, in the northwest region of Cameroon. This area is gravely affected by violence between government forces and armed groups seeking the creation of an independent state in the English-speaking regions of the North West and South West. Members of the Fulani ethnic group live in and around Ngarbuh. They are often referred to as Mbororos and form an essentially pastoral community. Human Rights Watch also obtained lists of victims from five sources and interviewed people, including family members of victims and residents who attended the burials, who independently confirmed the identities of the victims. Witnesses said that between 10 and 15 soldiers, including members of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), an elite unit of the Cameroonian army, and at least 30 armed Fulani first entered on foot. Ngarbuh 1, a district of Ngarbuh, on February 13 around 11:00 p.m., looting many houses. 

Some members of these forces then continued on their way to the Ngarbuh 2 neighborhood, looting houses and beating residents. At around 5:00 am on February 14, a group of soldiers and armed Fulani attacked the Ngarbuh 3 neighborhood, killing 21 civilians in four houses, then torching them. Human Rights Watch also examined satellite images taken before and after the attack on Ngarbuh 3. Post-attack images, taken on February 14 at 10:24 a.m.CAM, show several houses in Ngarbuh showing damage that fit in with a possible fire. A 32-year-old man, who witnessed the murder of his entire family, including seven children, said, "I heard gunshots and immediately fled to hide outside my home. Of the, I saw the soldiers shoot all of my family members one by one as they tried to flee. They first killed our mother. 

Then they killed the children, whose bodies fell on her. Then they torched my house. Human Rights Watch made several attempts to contact a senior member of the government, but received no response. The Minister of Defense of Cameroon made two statements on February 17. First, he announced that the government had opened an investigation and that its results would be made public. In a second statement later today, he said the results of the investigation "could be made public at the appropriate time." In both statements, he claimed that armed "terrorists" had attacked government security forces and that the clash had resulted in the explosion of fuel tanks, which destroyed several homes and caused the death of a woman and four children. This statement was reiterated on February 18 in a press release by the Minister of Communication. However, witnesses and residents with whom Human Rights Watch spoke, said that there had been no confrontation between the armed separatists and the security forces, which they had not heard of. explosion and that the murders had been deliberate. Residents said the attack was aimed at punishing civilians suspected of harboring separatist fighters. Twelve witnesses said that after the killings, the soldiers addressed the residents of Ngarbuh 2, warning them that their village would be destroyed if they continued to harbor separatists. During this speech and immediately after, 

"The military broke into my house," said a 45-year-old woman. “They said my children were Ambas [separatist] fighters and they looked for guns. They did not find one but they beat me and said, 'We have already killed children in Ngarbuh 3, we can kill you too.' On February 16, a joint team from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) attempted to do a humanitarian needs assessment in Ngarbuh, but soldiers from the BIR l blocked in Ntumbaw, the village closest to Ngarbuh, where UN teams had begun interviewing people displaced by the attack. Witnesses said the military took pictures of those being questioned and prevented the UN team from doing its job. In a statement on February 17, the UN Secretary-General expressed concern about the killings of civilians in Ngarbuh and urged the government of Cameroon to initiate an investigation and hold those responsible to account. The following day, the spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Cameroonian authorities should ensure that their security forces "conform to the relevant standards of international law when conducting their operations. " the UN Secretary-General expressed concern over the killings of civilians in Ngarbuh and urged the government of Cameroon to initiate an investigation and hold those responsible to account. The following day, the spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Cameroonian authorities should ensure that their security forces "conform to the relevant standards of international law when conducting their operations. " the UN Secretary-General expressed concern over the killings of civilians in Ngarbuh and urged the government of Cameroon to initiate an investigation and hold those responsible to account. The following day, the spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Cameroonian authorities should ensure that their security forces "conform to the relevant standards of international law when conducting their operations. " The spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Cameroonian authorities should ensure that their security forces "comply with relevant standards of international law when conducting their operations." " The spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Cameroonian authorities should ensure that their security forces "comply with relevant standards of international law when conducting their operations."

On February 21, four UN officials, the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for the plight of children in armed conflict, the issue of sexual violence committed in conflict and for violence against children, as well as his Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, issued a joint statement expressing deep concern over reports of increased violence in the English-speaking regions, including the attack on Ngarbuh, and calls on the Cameroonian government to ensure full respect for human rights. The United States has called on the government to allow an independent investigation and to ensure the safety of witnesses. The Ngarbuh murders have also been condemned by other countries,  including France, Canada and the United Kingdom. 

It is not the first time that the Cameroonian authorities deny that their troops have killed civilians. In 2018, an investigation by Amnesty International, the BBC and investigative journalists showed that Cameroonian soldiers appearing on a video committed the extrajudicial executions of two women and two children in the Far North region of the country. 

The Minister of Communication had initially rejected the video sequence as being “false information. However, seven soldiers were later arrested in connection with the murders. Their trial is ongoing. "The government of Cameroon should authorize an independent investigation, with the participation of the United Nations, into the Ngarbuh massacre and make its results public," said Ilaria Allegrozzi. “To be certain that their assistance does not facilitate the commission of atrocities, Cameroon's partners should suspend their Context Members of the Fulani ethnic group living in and around Ngarbuh are also called Mbororos and form an essentially pastoral community. Before the crisis escalated in the English-speaking regions, conflicts had arisen between the Fulani and local farmers over natural resources, including grazing land. They have been exacerbated since 2017, when violence erupted in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon. Armed separatists targeted the Fulani to take over their cattle and accused them of joining self-defense groups close to the government. Fulani armed groups have also attacked communities where armed separatists are said to operate. Armed separatists targeted the Fulani to take over their cattle and accused them of joining self-defense groups close to the government. Fulani armed groups have also attacked communities where armed separatists are said to operate. Armed separatists targeted the Fulani to take over their cattle and accused them of joining self-defense groups close to the government. Fulani armed groups have also attacked communities where armed separatists are said to operate. 

The killings at Ngarbuh 3 Research by Human Rights Watch shows that the killings of civilians at Ngarbuh 3 were deliberate. Witnesses and residents said between 10 and 15 members of the security forces had acted in concert with a group of around 30 Peul ethnic men dressed in civilian clothes and armed with machetes, sticks and shotguns. Three witnesses stated that the attack on Ngarbuh 3 occurred on February 14, 2020 at around 5:00 a.m. The military and the armed Fulani attacked four houses, shooting most of the residents. They also torched the houses, cremating the corpses. In a house, the soldiers killed seven people, including five children, all belonging to the same family. 

A relative, 45, who rushed to the scene after the murders, said four of the children were under the age of 12. In a second house, the soldiers and the armed Fulani killed nine people: seven children and two women. A resident who was among those who buried the bodies told Human Rights Watch, “When I got there, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was horrible. Some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition. The survivors were shocked and panicked. But many fled into the bush, fearing for their lives. In a third house, the soldiers and the armed Fulani killed two people, including a pregnant woman. In a fourth house, the soldiers and the armed Fulani killed three people, including a child. A woman who lived in this house was seriously injured but survived. A relative of the victims said he found the only survivor with injuries from machete wounds all over her body.

Looting and Beatings Twelve witnesses described how the security forces and the armed Fulani looted the houses in Ngarbuh 1 and Ngarbuh 2, forced residents to leave and beat them. A 32-year-old woman said that the military had threatened to kill her if she did not give them money. "They kept hitting me with rifle butts and asking for money," she said. Another resident of Ngarbuh 2, a pastor, said: $ 50 $ 100 $ 250 $ 500 $ 1,000 Other Region / Country Africa Cameroon The soldiers were accompanied by a group of armed Fulani. They broke in and looted all the houses in Ngarbuh 2. They forced the residents out, myself included, and gathered us in the village square, near the market. Some people were tied up with ropes. They forced us to lie face down on the floor. We were not allowed to lift our heads. If you did, they would hit you with a machete ... We were then released.


Source: Cameroonweb.com