By Vatican News staff writer
Leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon have condemned the series of recent killings by armed separatist forces and the military in the country, which have led to the deaths of about twenty persons.
In a statement released on Monday, the Presbyterian Church said that the "dreadful" killings of civilians have “seemingly blurred the ray of hope for the year 2021” after 2020, which was a “very challenging year for Cameroonians and the world at large.”
The Presbyterian Church also notes that the killings defy some “ongoing moves towards peace” and the nationally organized Ecumenical/Inter-religious march for peace held on 2 January 2021 by religious leaders in Cameroon.
“We the Religious Leaders will not be deterred in our prophetic role as the conscience of the Nation. We condemn forcefully and unequivocally all those who perpetrate violence in our Nation. Violence will never win, but justice and peace will,” read the statement signed by Rt. Rev. Fonki Samuel Forba, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon and the President of Cameroon’s Council of Protestant Churches, as well as the Council of Inter-Religious Dialogue in Cameroon.
Listing the latest attacks in Cameroon, the statement highlighted the killing of five people, including a female journalist, on 6 January by a roadside bomb that exploded on a convoy of government officials being escorted by the military between Andek and Mbengwi. Two days later, on 8 January, four military personnel and two civilians were killed in an attack on an army post at Matazem-Santa.
On 9 January, unidentified men killed the five-year-old son of a pastor behind his house in the Wum-Menchum Division; and on 10 January, at least nine civilians, including a child, were killed in Mautu-Muyuka Sub-Division.
Concern about continuous cycle of violence
Citing the “complex nature of the attacks and counter-attacks” and the “further use of explosives” by both the military and the "armed separatist forces," the Presbyterian Church leaders expressed concern that “the prevalence of these gruesome and inhuman acts on Cameroonians indicates that this cycle of violence is in no way near the end" and "insinuates the determination of both sides to continue on the path of war."
In this regard, the Presbyterian leaders called for peace, stressing that the cycle of violence is "a worrisome concern.” They further stressed that “justice, dialogue and not war leads to sustainable peace.”
Appeal against violence
Appealing to political authorities, the Presbyterian leaders called on the government to take up her responsibility to bring the conflict to an end and “earn her rightful place as the custodian of national life and welfare.”
The statement also called on the leaders of the armed separatist forces to “value human life and stop the torment and killings.”
As religious leaders, the statement continued, “we condemn in the strongest terms all forms of violence that continue to bring untold pain and torture to Cameroonians. We condemn all those who waste life made in the image of God…let them be reminded that God will hold each one of us accountable for acts that contradict His will and wisdom behind creation. Furthermore, history will not pardon the main actors of this epoch of blood and war.”
Concluding the statement, the Presbyterian leaders reaffirmed that they would continue to lead their adherents in prayers for the nation and would make themselves available as mediators in the “search for durable peace and justice.” They also urged Cameroonians to “give a thought to peace and justice for this New Year 2021.”