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Cameroon: Police Use Brute Force Against Protesters

Opposition groups in Cameroon organized protests on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 to call for President Paul Biya to leave office. President Paul Biya, who is running for re-election later this year, has been in power for 28 years. Paul Biya's Special Intervention Brigade crushed the protest with brute force.

Presidential candidate Kah Walla gives a victory sign as police use water cannons on her:
Presidential candidate Kah Walla give a victory sign as the army turn the water cannons on her. Photo courtesy of Eliza Anyangwe

Writing about the protests, Eliza Anyangwe wonders why protests in Sub-Saharan Africa do not seem to be news:

There’s revolt in the air. And on the streets of Egypt, Libya, Yemen…
But when it comes to sub-Saharan Africa, it doesn’t seem to be on the news. It seems the oppressive regimes of the continent are no one’s problem until the violence spills onto the marble staircases of foreign embassies or the diplomatic community are shamed out of their inaction by the rallying cries and sacrifies of the masses for democracy. For change.
Cameroon began that journey yesterday, 23 February. It was more a whisper than a shout: a group of a few hundreds peacefully demanding an end to the 28 year rule of Paul Biya. That group was met by army officers in full riot gear as they walked the streets of Douala, Cameroon’s delapidated commercial capital, who first spray the group leader and presidential candidate Kah Walla with the water cannon and as she and the other drenched protesters board the army truck, they are beaten with batons.

Up Station Mountain Club reports that members of the group Cameroon Ô'Bosso are being detained:

6 Members of Cameroon Ô'Bosso are being illegally detained for the last two days.

Dinamou Moise
Dorksidi Raphael
Ekwa Essi Franck
Dadina Bazai
Njengoue Kameni Joseph
Mbondo

David Were members of the team organizing the protest in Douala on Wednesday, February 23rd. The gendarmes descended upon them at about 8:00 a.m. before the protest had begun. The gendarmes arrested our colleagues and seized the 200 t-shirts and 200 water sachets that they were carrying to give out to other protestors.

However, one reader says that they might have been released:

It looks like they have been released. This group is headed for the same treadmill that SCNC has been experiencing. They need to talk to SCNC and strategize. This is the cycle:

Public demonstrations announced by the pressure group
Massive show of force to intimidate the public from joining
Peaceful demonstration barely begins
Nasty public beating of the pressure group, again to intimidate the public, but not enough beating to cause fatal injuries
The public watches in fear. If there were no beating they would join
Detention of members of the group
Release of the group before international outrage begins
After some rest, the cycle is repeated

Brutalization of protesters in Cameroon by The Chia Report:

These are the scenes that the government propaganda machine, Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) is not airing. Their focus is denying that Cameroon is not Libya or Egypt or Tunisia or Bahrain. But there is not denying from these pictures that the intolerance is the same; that the dictator is hell bent like Gaddafi to die in power; that the local press is pressed to stay quiet or share the government propaganda.

Finally, read a protest diary:

Kah Walla, the presidential candidate for Cameroon Ô’Bosso, who led yesterday’s peaceful protests that was brutally quelled by the army sent this dairy of events leading up to and during the protest and reflects on lessons learned.

About 12:45 p.m. The forces of law and order show up. An armada. About 70-80 policemen, two water cannons, riot gear and shields. We remain firm and as previously decided, sit, to show we are non-violent. These boys (and a few girls) do not have that word in their vocabulary. They use their clubs to begin seriously hitting on some of our protestors. To their grand surprise, I walk up to ask them to stop. The chiefs then realised they had Kah Walla, “l’oiseau” [bird] as one of them called me, right in front of them. For a few minutes they could not figure out what to do with me and had me walking back and forth while they decided to put me in a truck or in a car.

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