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HRW Condemns Killing Of Cameroonian Woman By ‘Separatists’

Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international non-governmental organisation has condemned the murder of Confort Tumassang by suspected Cameroonian separatist fights.

The organisation conducts research into and advocates respect for the rights of people.

A video recently circulated on the internet showed the killing of the 35-year-old mother of four. On Tuesday, with her hands tied behind her back, she was beaten by three men, dragged, and her throat hacked with a machete in an incident that took place in Muyuka, a town in the country’s southwest region.

In a statement released on Friday, HRW noted that Tumassang’s killing is the latest in a series of brutal attacks aimed at civilians by separatist groups in the northwest and southwest parts of Cameroon.

“Human Rights Watch also reviewed a second video, filmed before the killing, showing separatists interrogating and threatening Tumassang, whom they accused of collaborating with the military,” the statement read.

“The video, which corroborates previous accounts of killings by armed separatists documented by Human Rights Watch since late 2016, emerged as a new spike of violence affects civilians across the Anglophone regions.”

Quoting prominent human rights activist Felix Agbor Nkongho, the NGO added, “It flies in the face of humanity for us to accept these abuses as the new normal. There must be accountability.”

HRW said the three major Anglophone separatist groups, Ambazonia Governing Council, the Interim Government, and its splinter faction, all denied responsibility and condemned the incident after they were contacted.

“Some blamed each other, while others accused government soldiers of disguising themselves as separatist fighters to commit atrocities – an accusation which the Minister of Communication dismissed,” it said.

“Separatists continue to commit serious human rights abuses in the Anglophone regions with near-total impunity. Their leaders should immediately end the violence against civilians, and Cameroon’s international partners and the United Nations Security Council should impose targeted sanctions on separatist leaders responsible for these abuses.”

Opposition leader and president of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC), Maurice Kamto, placed the blame on the government for not resolving the socio-economic problems affecting the two English-speaking regions of the country.

“My stance, as well as that of the MRC party, is this: Let government take its responsibilities by putting an end to this incessant bloodshed!” he said.

Separatists in Cameroon’s Anglophone territories declared the independence of Ambazonia in 2017 and started fighting against the central government. Over 3,000 people have since lost their lives in the civil war while half a million others have been displaced.

In July, peace talks were held for the time first time between the government and prominent separatist leaders to “discuss the possibility of a ceasefire”.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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