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Catholic bishops, government clash over “genocide” claims in Cameroon

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon – Cameroonian bishops of the Bamenda province have voiced concerns that the Cameroon government could be perpetrating “genocide” against English-speaking Cameroonians.

The bishops’ remarks came in the wake of demonstrations in Cameroon’s predominantly English-speaking northwest and southwest regions demanding independence from the rest of Cameroon, which is majority French-speaking.

Media reports claim over 20 people have been killed by security forces since October 1, although the leader of the independence movement is claiming that over 100 people died.

The current unrest began last year, when disgruntled lawyers and teachers began protesting the use of French in courts using the Anglo-Saxon common law tradition (practiced in the English parts of the country) and in Anglophone schools. The demonstrations soon spread to the general public, and the calls for outright secession started growing.

In a strongly-worded statement released on October 6, the bishops condemned “the barbarism and the irresponsible use of firearms against unarmed civilians by the Forces of Law and Order” and called on President Paul Biya to stop “the bloodbath and genocide that has skillfully been initiated in the North West and South West Regions.”

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