Activist attorney Michele Ndoki was shot four times by police on Jan. 26 at a peace rally in Douala, Cameroon. Ndoki, is a vice president in the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, a political party, and was leading demonstrators in a peaceful protest against the violence wracking the African nation. Anti-riot police fired live ammunition into the demonstrators to disperse the crowd. Ndoki and Celestin Djamen, another prominent member of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, were both shot in the legs.
Agbor Balla spoke with the wounded lawyer at the hospital and posted on the internet: “I just spoke to Michele Ndoki who confirmed that she was shot 4 times by a police officer in Douala. She states further that, the police officer was clearly targeting her as he ran a long distant just to shoot her.”
The day before the shooting, two lawyers were kidnapped by a group of armed men in Buea. Barristers Victor Affah Ndetan and Wilfred Shribe were grabbed off the road by armed men on bikes that forced the pair into the bush. No ransom demands have been made public.
Open fighting in the Ambazonia region of Cameroon between separatists and the government forces of strongman Paul Biya have turned the region into a war zone. Biya has been in power since 1982 and has developed a reputation as an authoritarian dictator. Biya made Parade magazine’s list of the twenty worst dictators in the world.
Cameroon is made up of former British and French colonies leaving the diverse nation with two official languages, English and French, and several hundred aboriginal and tribal languages. The Ambazonia region is English-speaking and seeks independence. Biya, from the French-speaking portion of the country, has resisted the insurgents with bloodshed and burning. In December, Biya began a campaign to kill rebel militia generals who refused to lay down their arms. Search and kill missions are ongoing while Ambazonia leaders face political trials.
Although Amnesty International and other groups have been warning of war crimes and atrocities, the harsh crackdown by Biya’s security forces is ignored and largely unknown in the United States. The news media in Great Britain and France follow the fighting because their languages are at issue in the former colonies but the rest of the world remains uninformed and largely unconcerned.
Ndoki has been outspoken for a peaceful resolution to the dispute and was marching for peace when she was shot. Ndoki’s report that she was targeted by a policeman aiming for her, rather than random fire, may signal that Biya has expanded the hunt for militia generals to peaceful activists.