Attack On GTHS Esu Dents Separatists’ Commitment To Shun Anti-education Campaigns

Attack On GTHS Esu Dents Separatists’ Commitment To Shun Anti-education Campaigns

On December 12, 2023, heavily armed men, suspected to be separatist fighters, attacked Government Technical High School, GTHS Esu, in Menchum Division, Northwest Region of Cameroon. 

During the attack, they abducted Vice Principal Achuo Oscar, as well as Discipline Master, Kum Julius. They also took away 15 students but later released them. 

During the attack, the armed men brutalised GTHS Esu students and forced them to strip naked. Videos taken by the attackers and shared on social media showed multitudes of students wailing, and gripped by fear of what could happen to them.

Before retreating with the kidnapped teachers and the students, the armed men set the school building on fire. In some of the videos, some members of the group could be heard yelling that there would be no school in Ambazonia until they get the freedom they are fighting for. 

“See what is happening. We have told this people that there is no schooling. No school in Ambazonia land… we are the restoration forces of Ambazonia land, and this is Esu. We have refused that there is no school. Since they don’t want to listen, we have burnt down the school”, one of the fighters said in an amateur video they filmed and published online. The fighters identified themselves as operating under a pseudonymous ‘General Lion’ of Lions’ Gate group in Wum.  

This is not the first time that armed men are attacking a school or persons whose work revolves around schools, especially those that are government-owned. Still, on that very day. December 12, gunmen suspected to be separatist fighters in one of their control posts in Ndu, Northwest Region, shot and killed Zembwe Gabriel, a staff of the Donga Mantung Divisional Delegation of the Ministry of Secondary Education. He was shot and killed in Ntaba Hill as he travelled on that road. 

On September 25, 2023, armed men, suspected to be separatist fighters, set Government High School Batibo on fire. The armed men reportedly burnt the government school as retaliation for the Senior Divisional Officer moving around and shutting community schools, which had been authorised by separatists to function. 

Still this year, two primary school teachers, Fonjang Eric Denis, and Ndim John Budji, were on September 2, 2023, killed after they attended a meeting aimed at planning for the 2023/2024 school year. They were killed by an armed group in Belo, the administrative headquarters of Boyo Division, in Cameroon’s Northwest Region.

The attack on GTHS Esu has left many people confused, especially as many separatist groups had taken commitment to promote children’s right to education, and to stop attacks on schools and officials associated with schools. 

Following the attack, the SDO for Menchum condemned the act. He also urged the locals to collaborate with the administration and security forces to prevent such attacks in the future. He, however, did not say why a school operating in such a hostile environment was left unprotected. 

The SDO said the students who were wounded during the attack were taken to Esu Medicalised Health Centre, and that there were no major injuries to fear for their wellbeing. The SDO, in a statement, said he “… condemns in a very strong terms, this continuous barbaric act perpetrated by armed terrorists on innocent unarmed citizens and assured the population that investigations and operations are on-going to track the criminals for punishment in accordance with the regulations in force. The Senior Divisional Officer for Menchum calls on the law-abiding and peace-loving population of Esu in particular and Menchum Division in general to remain calm, to continue to collaborate with the administration, defence and security forces in order to enhance the peace which they were already enjoying”.

The now normalised attacks on schools, students and education stakeholders which often lead either to bodily harm or, in the worst case, the loss of lives, contravene Article 3, of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.

Article 26, Sub- 1, patterning to education states that: “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.” All these rights were taken away from Esu students and teachers. This has also been the case with several other students and teachers who have been attacked or targeted in line with the anti-school campaigns that are still being carried out by some separatist factions that have continually worked to champion anti-school campaigns.