On Saturday July 4th 2020, minister Paul Tassong, head of reconstruction of North West and South West region granted an interview with DOUALA based Equinoxe Television
The minister was fresh from concluding his two weeks successful working visit to Bamenda and Buea where he met political and religious leaders, members of the civil society, local administration and representatives of all the divisions among others to find a way forward as government activate the machinery to rebuild the crisis hit regions
In his post tour interview, minister Tassong made a shocking and audacious declaration on television, saying the millitary has never intimidated the population or burnt houses, adding the case of Ngarbuh was an isolated case.
The minister repeated government’s line that Cameroon defense forces have been professional and saint-like in the fight to restore normalcy to the Anglophone regions
Population reacts, existing data doesn’t help the minister’s case.
The population of the Anglophone regions, most of whom have suffered the impact of the crisis have expressed shock and outrage over the minister’s comment
Many have taken to social media to decry what they termed “falsehood” by some government officials, saying it shows the reconstruction project is heading for the rocks
But minister Tassong’s declaration doesn’t only run at odds with human right groups and UN agencies who have accused the government forces in the past of wrongdoings but runs contrary to government’s own agencies
In May 16 2019, defense minister Beti Assomo accepted that the country’s defense forces had burnt houses in Makon, Bamenda following confrontation with the armed separatists
According to the defense boss, after the killing of two soldiers on patrol in Alachu, Mankon by Ambazonia fighters, colleagues of the deceased, chased the fighters and met with “other unidentified men”.
“This led to shootings and in the confused atmosphere, some houses were set on fire and properties destroyed”. The Minister stated in the press release.
But that’s not all.
Human right groups have documented hundred of villages not just houses burnt or totally razed by Cameroon’s military even though the government has denied involvement of its forces.
Eye witnesses have recounted multiples instances where their houses were razed by the millitary in their war with armed separatists.
According to UN, the war in the Anglophone regions have claimed more than 3000 lives, displacing over 2 million people with about 350000 in neigbourhing Nigeria alone.
Most of those killed are civilians and reports say there have been killings on both sides
Human rights watch has also accused the country’s millitary of torture, extra judicial killings and unlawfully detention of persons in Anglophone regions among other right abuses in the course of the crisis.
Minister Tassong’s declaration on Equinoxe contradicts all existing realties and many are saying the minister should focus his message on peace and the need to give room for reconstruction rather than diving into the blame game of the conflict which might further kill the chances of any reconstruction and roll back all the efforts he has made this far.
Crimes committed in the Anglophone regions many say will be investigated with time and those responsible whether millitary or separatist fighters will surely face justice some day.