Yaounde — HUMAN rights groups have petitioned the African Union (AU) to address serious violations in Cameroon where an estimated 3 000 people have been killed during protests in English-speaking regions.
In a petition to the AU's Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, 65 non-governmental organisations lamented that more than 500 000 people had been forced to flee their homes and 700 000 children out of school.
Several journalists have been detained following their arrests while covering the protests.
The crisis in the North-West and South-West regions began in late 2016, when teachers, lawyers, students and activists, who had long complained of their regions' perceived marginalization by the central government, dominated by French speakers.
"The brutal response of the government forces, who killed peaceful protesters, arrested leaders and journalists, banned civil society groups and blocked the internet, escalated the crisis," the 65 organisations jointly stated.
Since then, numerous separatist groups have emerged calling for the independence of the Anglophone regions and embracing the armed struggle.
Security forces have allegedly killed civilians, burned dozens of villages, arbitrarily arrest and tortured hundreds of alleged armed separatists.
Separatists are accused of murdering security personnel and kidnapping hundreds of people.
President Paul Biya early this month led a national dialogue to address the crisis.
Biya decided to drop all charges against hundreds of people arrested in the unrest as well as political opponents.