Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The BBC is reporting that police in the Cameroons have shot dead at least three taxi drivers who were part of a protest against police brutality. The group had gathered to denounce the severe beating of one of their own at a police check point.

An aide to the governor of North-West Province, who asked not to be named, confirmed there had been a "popular upheaval downtown" but could not confirm the deaths.
"The situation is very tense here now," the aide added, requesting anonymity.

"It seems the people want the police to pay for the killings."

There is more to the police beatings then simple spite or even one brutal beating.

Taxi drivers have long been bristling with anger at policemen who 'control' car documents. Drivers speak with disdain about the cruel treatment they receive in the hands of the uniformed men. They complain bitterly that the policemen have a fondness for their [taxi drivers] hard-earned stipends regardless of whether they present complete car documents or not.

The cab drivers feel offended about the carefree attitude of the policemen who seem to have shunned their noble duty of enforcing the law and protecting citizens' lives and their property, for the lucrative business of collecting bribe.

In an interview with The Post (Cameroons), a taxi driver in Buea Town, Solomon Tah, said the policemen are out to drain them because they no longer check documents, but merely demand for the traditional FCFA 500 'settlement'.

He said it is very difficult for them to have all the required documents due to exorbitant rates running up to as much as FCFA 350,000, the delay in getting the documents and the money they lose daily to policemen.

The following is from Reuters Alert Africa.

Cameroon police shoot dead 3 moped taxi riders

YAOUNDE, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Police in northwestern Cameroon shot dead three motorcycle taxi drivers who were protesting against the arrest and beating of one of their colleagues, residents said on Tuesday.

Police arrested one of the taxi drivers on Monday for not having the right papers in Bamenda, the main town of the central African country's North-West Province, a region frequently rocked by land disputes and clashes with the authorities.

"He was thoroughly beaten until he lost consciousness and one of his eyes. His colleagues went to the police station to seek his release but the police used tear gas to chase them away," one Bamenda resident said, asking not to be named.

"They then invaded the town, mounting roadblocks and blocking the traffic. When the security forces came out to lift the roadblocks, they threw stones at them and the police fired at them in retaliation."

The three taxi drivers -- known locally as "benskinners" because passengers have to "bend their skin" to climb onto the motorcycles -- were killed instantly by bullets. A pregnant woman who was also hit was rushed to hospital, witnesses said.

Thousands of people then gathered in support of the "benskinners", accusing the police of extorting money from them and of other human rights abuses.

An aide to the provincial governor, who asked not to be named, confirmed there was "a popular upheaval downtown" but said, in the confusion, he was unable to confirm the deaths.

"The situation is very tense here now. It seems the people want the police to pay for the killings," he said.

Bamenda is no stranger to violent unrest. Residents of a nearby village burned down 300 homes and forced thousands of people to flee in March after rival landowners reportedly tried to burn down their traditional chief's "fon", or palace.

Last year, another group of villagers beat their own chief to death and burnt his corpse after they accused him of selling farmland to wealthy cattle breeders. They then stoned to death the policeman who came to arrest the main suspects.

No comments: