Below is a statement by the Minister of Communication, René Emmanuel Sadi yesterday 22 September 2019 in Yaounde.
"Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
The Government of Cameroon has taken note of a series of false allegations and untruths, disseminated in some international media, tending to generally discredit the National Defence and Security Forces, and more importantly, the Rapid Intervention Battalion, known by its French acronym as BIR, an elite unit, engaged in several theatres of operations, whose commitment and bravery, heroism and military exploits, are appreciated by all and lauded by the entire Nation. This well-known foreign media, is in that way amplifying, through coarsely edited videos, and concocted narratives, out of phase with the veracity of facts, absolutely unfounded data, published on September 19, 2019, by "Mediapart" an online media, mainly accustomed in releasing issues against Cameroon.
ln fact, under the heading, "In Cameroon, the Dirty Work of a Special Unit Equipped by France", it is reported, among others, that "the Rapid Intervention Battalion, an elite unit of 5,000 soldiers, is suspected of worse abuses in' secret chambers of torture".
Moreover, it is conclusively stated that "the French military equipment is used against the people of Cameroon", and that "the Rapid Intervention Battalion is regularly accused of violating Human rights and combating the local populations under the cover of the fight against terrorism."
These sycophants go further to indicate that " the French-made military vehicles of "Bastion" pattern, are being used by the Rapid Intervention Battalion, which occupies one of the largest underground torture centres, and that "in the Southern part of the country, where the Cameroonian army is carrying out a bloody suppression of the English- speaking minority, the Rapid Intervention Battalion is also making use of armored vehicles manufactured in France."
They do not only end up to hold that "French weapons are used under the regime of President Paul BIYA, to starve and subjugate the population or to violently suppress civilians, in violation of international rights and treaties", but also that "in the North- West and South West regions, the Rapid Intervention Battalion has undertaken actions to counter insurgency, aimed at separating the civilian populations away from the insurgents, using methods taught to them by French, American, and Israeli trainers, in conformity with the principles elaborated by France, at the time of the wars of Indochina and Algeria, and perfected by the Americans in Iraq."
I will spare you of the other words, whose acrimony and harmfulness will only leave you perplexed and stunned.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is needless to say that the allegations of this foreign media, peddled and relayed by a string of international media, reveal an undeniable desire to tarnish the image of the Cameroonian army, that of its Leader, and therefore, that of Cameroon as a whole. There is also the need to question the connection of this pernicious media campaign, with the announcement of the Major National Dialogue, by the Head of State of Cameroon, as well as the enthusiasm and all the hopes aroused by this far-reaching event for the fate and future of the Cameroonian nation. There is no doubt that there again, as we have seen, in other circumstances, is a clear intention to manipulate national and international opinion, to stir up resentment and tensions in a country resolutely committed and mobilized to restore peace and security, where they are today threatened, to demonize and stigmatize a strong and credible army, whose main credo, as we know, lies on the respect of republican institutions, and popular defence, and may be, to question the validity of its participation in the Major National Dialogue.
In this respect, the Rapid Intervention Battalion, it should be underscored without mixing words, is an elite unit that has always been distinguished by the quality of its troops, its bravery, its efficiency and its achievements in all theatres of operations, where it has been called to action.
Illustratively, the contribution of the Rapid Intervention Battalion in the fight against the Boko-Haram nebula, has been, as everyone knows, most significant, just as it has been rightfully hailed by the entire national and international community.
The same is true of the role played by the Rapid Intervention Battalion in the North- West and South-West regions, where its vocation and mission are and remain that of preserving the security of populations and their property, and the defence of peace and the territorial integrity of Cameroon, faced with separatists and lawless armed groups, sowing terror and desolation, and committing untold atrocities.
It is also commendable to laud, in addition to their military exploits, the many social actions, carried out by our army in general, and most particularly, by the Rapid Intervention Battalion, in favour of the populations in the regions hit hard by the ravages of war, insecurity and the many abuses perpetrated by armed groups, both in the Far North, North West and South West regions.
The following actions can be cited inter alia:
- Support for the health and safety of the populations of the affected regions;
- Support for the education of young learners in these regions;
- The construction of buildings and boreholes in benefit of the populations of these crisis zones;
- The distribution of food aid;
- The security of NGO escorts, humanitarian, media and personalities convoys;
- Special assistance to various disadvantaged social groups and vulnerable people;
- Donations of teaching materials;
- Supply of electricity, Internet and sanitary evacuations.
- Animation and management of cultural activities of the affected populations. In other words, the Rapid Intervention Battalion is dedicating a good portion of its missions for military operations, and another important portion for social assistance activities. Coming back to acts of bravery committed by the Rapid Intervention Battalion, the following actions should be noted:
- The conquest of the terrorist base of the socalled "sacred" Sambissa forest, where the leader of the Boko-Haram nebula, took refuge at that time, in benefit of the Nigerian troops, in 2017;
- The liberation of the Maiduguri-Gambaro strategic axis in Nigeria, Fotokol-Kousseri axis in Cameroon;
- The reconquest of Mount Mandara;
- The success of Thunder 1, 2, 3 Operations, dedicated to the patrol, control and destruction of Boko Haram strongholds;
- Protection trenches to securing the territorial integrity, etc.
- To end up, the Rapid Intervention Battalion has successfully been deployed alongside the Multinational Joint Task-Force and all other Cameroonian Defence Forces.
It is all that unfair, even malicious, in wanting to throw completely unfounded recriminations, on an army, and most especially, that of an elite unit, committed to accomplish their duty, nothing else but their duty, with seriousness and professionalism, fully aware of their sovereign obligations and the exigencies imposed in times of peace and in war, while respecting human rights.
Collateral damage recorded from time to time, as is the case everywhere else in the world under such circumstances, cannot in any way overshadow the merits of a republican institution of which we have every reason to be proud of.
In the same vein, it should be noted with dismay, that, in the face of all sorts of atrocities committed by lawless individuals in the regions concerned, against defenceless civilians and their property, against the elements of our Defence and Security Forces, against the administrative authorities, the same foreign media and human rights organizations, are showing a surprising and incomprehensible silence.
That notwithstanding, it is worth commending the quality of military cooperation ties existing between Cameroon and friendly countries including France, the State of Israel and the United States of America.
It is a fruitful and highly valued cooperation to help Cameroon deal with terrorist threats and to defend just and legitimate causes. Moreover, the Government, once again expresses its gratitude to all Cameroon's friendly and development partners, for their multifaceted support within the framework of useful and mutually beneficial military cooperation. In that same vein, the Government, once again, debunks all these false allegations, mostly those concerning "abuses and other serious Human rights violations targeting civilians", in this case, the alleged use of "secret torture chambers, extrajudicial executions, the excessive use of force, and many others" charged against the National Defence and security Forces, in the ongoing struggle against armed groups of secessionists in the North West and South West regions.
The Government of Cameroon strongly refutes these fanciful fantasies and unwarranted assertions of some foreign media, who, lacking inspiration and in search of sensationalism, have not ceased to criticize the Cameroonian army. We greatly laud their high sense of loyalty, sacrifice and dedication. In addition, the Government, through my voice, hereby reiterates, to the National Defence and Security Forces, all the esteem of the Cameroonian people, and the high confidence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA.
Thank you for your kind attention."