Genocide Warnings for Three African States

These genocide warnings concern current threats to the peoples of Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi. Beyond the primary concern for all the people in national groups, a pattern is emerging globally which should remind North Americans of past genocides against native American peoples: the masses of people forced from their homelands, the refugee camps which are meant to both save and contain the displaced, the senseless killing of civilians, the slaughter by hunger, arms and disease which lower the population numbers, and the relentless attack on native cultures to incapacitate the will to resist. The inability to recognize genocide at home limits the ability to understand other contemporary genocides in progress.

After a massive loss of life in Rwanda, Libya, and Ivory Coast where the old leadership was removed by war and these were wars won by forces with Euro-American support, there’s an increased sensitivity to the early warnings of war such as destabilization. These population losses in Africa have followed the extreme example presented by the destruction of Iraq and its infrastructure by bombs and missiles. The process of replacing uncooperative government leaders with tractable puppets was and is a disaster for each person of the millions displaced, forced into exile, in mourning for all those lost whether to armed violence, or sickness and hunger.

In areas of Africa with increasingly high numbers of displaced persons we’re likely to find the covert hand of colonialism reasserting its need for corporate profits. The current news from Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi, lends insight into how and why genocides do occur or could occur., while the challenge of understanding is to stop them.

1. Cameroon

Concerned with the increasing violence and repression in Cameroon1 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet visited the country last May to meet with government ministers, opposition leaders, and Cameroon’s President Biya who assured full cooperation with the UN on issues of Human Rights.

To summarize the situation: 20% of the French speaking country is Anglophone, and the sparse public services are particularly diminished for the English-speaking areas. A portion of Anglophone leaders support secession of an English speaking region, of an Anglophone state, Ambazonia, abutting Nigeria. Not far from the inland portion of Ambazonia, in Nigeria, begins Boko Haram territory. Since about 2009 Boko Haram, a Sunni Muslim fundamentalist group, worked northern Nigeria, northern Cameroon and Chad.

A Boko Haram military tactic was, and is, reprisal, answering occasional military defeats with wiping out rural Christian villages in Cameroon. In Cameroon the government responded with an ongoing low intensity conflict to protect the area’s Muslim and Christian population. Cameroon’s forces became veterans of war against a military known for atrocities and kidnapping young women and entire schools.

In 2015 Boko Haram pledged allegiance to a larger Sunni Muslim fundamentalist group, ISIS, known for its atrocities in Syria and Iraq.

In 2016 Cameroon’s Anglophone lawyers whose rights were not well-respected, chose to go on strike. The nonviolent strike was joined by Anglophone teachers and students. Responding with military force and arrests the government imprisoned a number of lawyers to try for treason, which led to more violence. When forced to extremes the struggle for Anglophone rights made people choose sides. The result suggests it’s better not to force language struggles to extremes.

In 2017 Ambazonia declared itself a separate Anglophone country which initiated its own defense forces, militias etc. The region’s educational system was / is periodically shut down with threats effected against those who try to teach or attend school. The Cameroon government’s police stations are burned, government police dismembered, government forces engaged. Human rights violations by government forces were / are brutal and recurring. The separatist Ambazonian leader, Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, was recently sentenced to life in prison which occasioned more violence and military reprisal. About half a million people have left their homes in Cameroon.

On August 26th 2019, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada2 with the support of two human rights NGOs, presented a statement3 to the United Nations Human Rights Council noting crimes by Cameroon’s government against the country’s Anglophone minority, as well as responsive “violent acts” against the government. The statement requests international concern and encourages international action to prevent “further mass atrocities.” It asks the Government of Cameroon to end its violence and investigate the human rights abuses. The statement relies on and furthers the evidence and guide supplied by the report, “Cameroon’s Unfolding Catastrophe: Evidence of Human Rights Violations and Crimes against Humanity,”4 authored by the two NGOs supporting the statement.

What can be said for Paul Biya’s dictatorial democracy and rule for 36 years is that in 2018 he was supported by 70% of the voters (Anglophone parties refused to vote). UN News reports “Cameroon is also hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria,”5 And Paul Biya has allowed Cameroon to survive without the epidemics, starvation, aggressions, war, massacres or genocide, which have tormented many African countries since their Independences from colonial rule in the 1960s.

Until 2016 found the government’s military forces suddenly engaged on two fronts – against ISIS in the far North and Anglophone militias in the West. Few journalists or reports mention both fronts in the same article and, for example, LRWC’s multi NGO statement to the Human Rights Council addresses only the Anglophone problem. This is also true of the NGO jointly authored “Report.” Neither mentions that the country is engaged in a war.

There is no mention at all in the LRWC statement or the “Report,” of Northern Cameroon’s Christian communities. When these are targeted by Boko Haram / ISIS they’re wiped out. Fulani tribesmen are also blamed for the attacks. With last July’s attacks on villages 1100 additional families were displaced.6 A Bible translator was killed, his wife’s left hand cut off. The rainy season until October makes it hard for government troops to deploy to villages. Christian sources note that across the border in Nigeria “Tens of thousands have died over the last 20 years.”7 Last November in Bamenda 80 students were kidnapped from the Presbyterian school, not by ISIS but Ambazonian separatists.8 Generally the region’s Muslims and Christians get along. In mid-August Bishop George Nkuo of Kumbo in the northwest made a plea to end the conflict and within hours two priests were kidnapped.9

The U.S. which provided military aid to Cameroon’s fight against ISIS has reacted to reports of the military’s human rights violations by withdrawing aid. The rights violations against Anglophones receive international coverage. Cameroon is only twenty percent Anglophone so Anglophone and Ambazonian leaders have encouraged intervention by outside forces.

Is Anglophone strategy to initiate conflict that would require outside intervention? This pattern of gaining outside support and cutting in foreign interests was followed in Cote d’Ivoire and led to the current head of state Alassane Ouattara’s victory. The Christian group revolutionary leader was replaced with a Muslim group’s former World Bank employee and friend of France’s Nicholas Sarkozy more friendly to French business interests.

Since LRWC, CHRDA and RWCHR are lobbying the UN Human Rights Council to encourage intervention in Cameroon, shouldn’t we know more about them?

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada affirms the rights of lawyers globally and addresses points of international law. Logically it would have to address Anglophone lawyers’ evidence of their government’s persecution.

LRWC is joined by the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA)10 with offices in Cameroon and the U.S. CHRDA was founded in 2017 by the Cameroon Anglophone attorney, Felix Agbor Anyior Nkongo, who has studied at universities in Cameroon, Nigeria, the U.S. (Notre Dame), Brussells and Leipzig. He has worked in human rights for the U.N. When imprisoned for treason during the 2016 lawyers’ strike in Cameroon, the Ontario Bar and the U.S. RFK Human Rights NGO and his former professor at Notre Dame among others, protested until he was released. An eloquent lobbyist for the Anglophone cause in Cameroon his NGO encourages “democracy” for all African peoples. He’s among the original lawyers who misjudged the regime’s response which resulted in Cameroon’s 2016 destabilization.

The third NGO presenting the UN with encouragement to intervene is the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR) founded by former Canadian Minister of Parliament / Minister of Justice, expert on international law, Professor Irwin Cotler. Both Cotler and Nkongo introduce the “Report” on Cameroon.

With its roots in WWII’s Holocaust of European Jewry RWCHR is a heavy hitter for human rights. And like many Canadian human rights NGOs it is…sanctified. But it takes political rather than moral stands. For example, this NGO has declared the BDS movement anti-Semitic and it generally supports Israel politically. According to Wikipedia RWCHR recently advised Canada’s government that Venezuela’s President Maduro is responsible for war crimes. RWCHR attempted to persuade European Parliament to take the Venezuelan government to International Criminal Court. RWCHR is providing legal representation for Venezuela’s opposition leader, Leopoldo Eduardo López Mendoza. And the NGO was very supportive in the referral of Venezuela to the International Criminal Court made by members of the Organization of American States. In any case, RWCHR’s position aligns with U.S. and Canadian government policy in the attempt to take over a sovereign nation, Venezuela. The NGO is apparently not against aggressive Euro-American takeover of a sovereign state.

To consider Cameroon then, the media haven’t noticed that the Boko Haram / ISIS attacks on Cameroon complement the interests of the Ambazonia secessionists, and vice versa. Both destabilize the State and so encourage outside intervention. A supplier of Ambazonian arms is found to be an Anglophone leader (Marshall Foncha, chair of the Ambazonia Military Council) living in the United States.11 Other Ambazonian arms are sourced from English speaking Nigeria. Boko Haram / ISIS is said to steal its sometimes advanced weaponry from Nigerian military and security forces. But there’s also verified evidence that ISIS is supported in Yemen by both the U.S. and Israel.12 Is Boko Haram /ISIS at the service of foreign interests in the destabilization of Nigeria and Cameroon?

Why did the leaders of the Anglophone movement initiate strikes and secession at a time when the country’s resources were strained by refugees, and when villagers of Cameroon were beng massacred by foreign forces? The more uncompromising Anglophone leadership is, the more inevitable the armed conflict in a country where 41% of the population has malaria13 and Médecins Sans Frontières has warned of a cholera epidemic in the north.14

On September 10th President Biya ordered his government to start a “national dialogue” to resolve the language conflict and he asked foreign nations to stop Cameroon’s diaspora from furthering the violence which is increasing in his country.15

2. The Democratic Republic of Congo

Neo-colonial inroads in the Democratic Republic of Congo16 are seen in the overt resource exploitation of the country’s East and terrible cost in human lives and displaced people, refugees and exiles. Death toll from the First and Second Congo Wars (1996-2003) could be as high as 6.2 million people. UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency in 2017 estimated 4.5 million displaced people within the country and in 2019, 856,043 hosted in other African countries.

Currently17 the DRC is suffering an Ebola epidemic which continues the depopulation of a resource rich region. The epidemic demands cooperation with countries which are otherwise stripping the country’s resources and with the United Nations World Health Organization. WHO has become entirely necessary globally to counter epidemics, plagues and biological warfare. It also provides and distributes pharmaceuticals.

As the number of Ebola cases passes 3000 (2000 deaths) two new pharmaceutical treatments for Ebola are being applied in the Congo without massive pre-testing: REGN-EB3 and mAb114. These are proving at least 90% effective on application.18 Fears of the lack of containment of Ebola in the city of Goma were eased by the announcement of success in the trials of new drugs. The new drugs use monoclonal antibodies to directly attack the Ebola virus. Testing of two less successful drugs was dropped. The difference in fatalities among various drug testing programs may have added to the anxiety of those withholding their trust in the doctors administering products of different pharmaceutical companies. Uganda is testing another drug (Jansen pharmaceuticals) on 685 Ugandans and expects the results to show them how long the drug’s effectiveness will last. A follow-up study for those receiving anti-Ebola medication during the West African epidemic in 2013-2016 found an abnormally high rate of subsequent kidney disease, re-hospitalization and death.19

As of September the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has 30 responders working in the DRC. The CDC is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) which is providing the pharmaceutical producer Merck 23 million dollars (in addition to the 176 million already invested in the inoculative drug), toward doses of an Ebola vaccine it hopes will obtain licensing.20

Unlike the Ebola epidemic the efforts to combat measles have received only 2.5 million dollars of the 8.9 million required.21 In the world’s largest outbreak of measles currently, from January through August 2019, the disease killed 2700 children in the DRC, among the 145,000 infected. Médecins Sans Frontières has been able to vaccinate 474,863 children.

Faced with terrifying biological challenges endangered countries could become entirely reliant on the Euro-American pharmaceutical companies which can provide the cures, or lose portions of their populations.

The purpose of the Euro-American corporations is profit. Curative drugs and vaccines can be extremely expensive or withheld. Historically, disease (smallpox and tuberculosis) was used in North America in the genocide of North Americans. Slow to admit the practice of genocide at home, North Americans are reluctant to question the possibilities of contemporary application.

Corporate and government agency transparency is necessary. Information about contemporary U.S. biological warfare and disease experiments rarely reaches the public. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention monitored the Tuskegee syphilis experiment from 1957 until 1972 when a whistleblower exposed it to the newspapers. The experiment studied impoverished African American sharecroppers with syphilis who weren’t told they had the disease and were denied treatment. During the Vietnam war the U.S. Army experimented with release of bacteria in the New York City subways as one of 239 biological warfare experiments nationally in its covert testing from 1949 to 1969.

Ebola was first recognized in 1976, in South Sudan and in the same year, in the Congo Belge / Zaire / DRC. It is a hemorrhagic fever virus extremely similar to the Marburg virus and the CDC considers both Category A Bioterrorism Agents. The Marburg virus first appeared in a Marburg German laboratory in 1967.22

3. Burundi

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi23 has issued a report24 which states conditions exist in Burundi which lead to genocide. Conditions weren’t good last year and are worse now. As many as 400,000 have fled into exile. The UN has suspected the possibility of genocide occurring in Burundi for several years now. The Government of Burundi doesn’t agree.

In a health emergency not noted by the world’s press the Voice of America reported in 2017 that according to the WHO in 2016, 73 percent of Burundians were affected by malaria.25 Others say at least half the 11 million population of Burundi has malaria which is the leading cause of death. The disease is usually countered with pharmaceuticals but Burundi is the 2nd poorest country in the world.

The Voice of America blames Burundi’s violence and unrest on President Nkurunziza’s decision in 2015 to run for a third term which may have countered the country’s constitutional law. A similar instance of President Kagame’s third term in Rwanda didn’t bother the U.S. Burundi’s government tends to blame the unrest on Kagame and Tutsi-controlled Rwanda. Hutu controlled Burundi shows a Hutu / Tutsi ratio of 85% /15%. Rwanda thinks Burundi is hiding Hutu participants in Rwanda’s genocide.

Burundi’s government isn’t convinced by the UN’s good intentions and has denied UN investigators access. Burundi does have a history of events which could be defined as tribal warfare, civil wars, or genocides. If the incipient divisions are forced to extremes as they were in Rwanda it would likely be caused by exterior destabilization.

It could be argued that outside pressures forced the destabilization of Rwanda to the point of genocide in 1994. These should be noted by any monitoring of Burundi. Both Rwanda and Burundi of similar culture and language have dealt with the simplicities of tribal difference for over 500 years. One could argue that the responsibility for any contemporary genocide could only rest with “First World” interference, supplying armaments and taking sides to its own advantage. Burundi’s national language is African, Kirundi.

US / UN support for the Kagame Tutsi government’s official narrative of the Rwandan Genocide has both ignored and denied the genocide of Hutu during the recognized genocide of Tutsi at Kagame’s takeover of Rwanda, to the point of imprisoning those who have attempted to memorialize Hutu victims.

The UN report on Burundi includes, without specifically identifying covert programs, the threat of foreign attempts to intervene in the country’s politics and elections. With elections approaching next year the foreign media has stepped up its attacks on the present government. The BBC and Voice of America are no longer licensed to operate in Burundi. Since 2015 the European Union and US have applied selective sanctions to the country so Burundi has closed down all foreign NGOs. The Anglican Church of Burundi at work in the region since the 1930s is still able to provide its health, educational, environmental, community and religious services and programs.

International pressure for intervention in Burundi began as early as November 2016.26 By January 11, 2017 Night’s Lantern notes:27

The government cabinet Minister of the Environment has been assassinated. This continues a lethal back and forth between the government and its opposition, which threatens the region with a lapse into violence. Euro-American policies suggest military intervention to preclude the possibility of a genocide (see previous), an intervention likely to lead to corporatization of the country’s assets. This is a strong factor encouraging a genocide. Calls for intervention have coincided with major mining contracts gained by Russian and Chinese companies. Destabilization is encouraged by the privatization of Burundi’s coffee industry at the insistence of the World Bank; private interests have delayed delivery of pesticides and fertilizers; the crop and industry have been damaged. The Parliament of Burundi has had to place controls on international NGO’s in Burundi who are considered to support rebels against Burundi’s President Nikurunziza. Burundi has also withdrawn from the International Criminal Court so the Euro-American human rights industry is not well disposed toward President Nikurunziza and any non-African reporting on Burundi should require multiple verification. The attempt to wrest political power from African leaders who are uncooperative with US/NATO corporate takeovers is familiar.

Night’s Lantern has noted Burundi’s people as a national group under genocide warning since 2015. The UN report’s conclusion places an additional genocide warning for the people. To avoid interference by corporate interests Burundi’s government will have to be angelic in resisting attempts to subvert it. If the society continues to break down and a genocide is initiated will it be Burundians who are responsible?

  1. The author’s previous considerations of Cameroon are linked from Night’s LanternGenocide warnings.” []
  2. To maintain transparency: although not involved with its response to this issue the author is a non-lawyer member of LRWC and supports many of LRWC’s statements and position papers for the Human Rights Council. []
  3. “Human rights Catastrophe in Cameroon.” “Written statement* submitted by Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status,” A/HRC/42/Ngo/1, August 21, 2019. Human Rights Council 42nd Session 9-27 September 2019. []
  4. “Cameroon’s Unfolding Catastrophe” Evidence of Human Rights Violations and Crimes against Humanity,” June 3, 2019, Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa & Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. []
  5. “Cameroon: Clear ‘window of opportunity’ to solve crises rooted in violence – Bachelet,” May 6, 2019, UN News. []
  6. “Boko Haram displaces Thousands in Northern Cameroon,” July 23, 2019, Persecution. []
  7. “Nigeria is the biggest killing ground of Christians today,” current / September 14, 2019, Persecution. []
  8. “The political conflict in Cameroon threatens the freedom of Christians,” Jonatán Soriano, December 5, 2018, Evangelical Focus. []
  9. “Cameroon bishop: ‘I am not safe; after speaking out against conflict,” Crux staff, August 20, 2019, Crux. []
  10. This should not be confused with the United Nations Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa (CHRDCA) – headquartered in Cameroon’s capital, which is the regional office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. []
  11. “Cameroon’s Separatist Movement Is Going International,” Gareth Browne, May 13, 2019, Foreign Policy. []
  12. “The Smoking Gun in the Islamic State Conspiracy: Documents Prove US Arming Islamic State,” Gearóid Ó Colmáin, September 5, 2019, American Herald Tribune. []
  13. “Chinese Mosquito Coils Breaking Grounds in Malaria Control in Cameroon,” September 15, 2019, Journal du Cameroun.com. []
  14. “Project Update,” August 21, 2019, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). []
  15. “Cameroon: Biya Orders Immediate Dialogue to Solve Cameroon’s Problems,” Moki Edwin Kindzeka, September 11, 2019, Voice of America. []
  16. The author’s previous considerations of the Democratic Republic of Congo are linked from Night’s LanternGenocide Warnings.” []
  17. Suppressed News: Democratic Republic of Congo, July 17, 2019, Night’s Lantern. []
  18. “New Ebola Drugs Show Exciting Promise With Up to 90 Percent Cure Rate,” Global Information Network, August 14, 2019, Black Agenda Report []
  19. “Ebola survivors may face increased risk of death after hospitalization,” Chris Galford, September 6, 2019, Home Preparedness News. []
  20. “DRC Ebola outbreak reaches deadly milestone,” Chris Galford, September 3, 2019, Homeland Preparedness News. []
  21. “Democratic Republic of Congo,” Eric Oteng (AFP), September 15, 2019, africa news. []
  22. “Zaire ebolavirus,” current, Wikipedia; Marburg Virus, current, Wikipedia. []
  23. The author’s previous considerations of Burundi are linked from Night’s LanternGenocide Warnings. []
  24. “Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi,” A/HRC/42/49. August 6, 2019. Human Rights Council Forty-second session 9-27 September 2019. []
  25. “Burundi Says Malaria Reaches Epic Proportions,” Edward Rwema, March 14, 2017, VOA. []
  26. 2016 Suppressed News,” November 18, 2016, Burundi, Night’s Lantern. []
  27. 2017 Suppressed News,” January 11, 2017, Burundi, Night’s Lantern. []
John Bart Gerald is a poet/journalist living in Montreal. He writes the website nightslantern.ca concerned with the prevention of genocide. Read other articles by J. B..