Family members and relatives turned out in their numbers to welcome freed Anglophone civil society leaders and others arrested during the recent unrest in the English speaking regions of Cameroon.
Observers are now questioning what becomes of other detainees who have not been released as well those who went on self exile.
Among those released is a former Advocate General of Cameroon’s Supreme Court Ayah Paul Abine, who was sent on retirement while in jail.
“During the past 8 months we wanted to know his crime. We were very uncomfortable because many people are sent to jail in Cameroon on embezzlement charges but Mr Ayah has never been involved in any crime. He also kept asking day and night what have I done why am i here but he never got answers,” Ayah Paul Abine’s wife said.
Received with “painful joy” as they were transported back home, the Anglophone detainees decry terrible jail conditions during their stay at the Yaounde Central Prison.
The deplorable jail conditions were recently condemned by the Network of Human Rights defenders in Central Africa.
“The conditions were very terrible. I was more than a criminal, I was more than a terrorist. I was tied up with hands behind my back, with masks all over my face. I couldnt’t see anybody, I couldnt’t recognise anything,” a former detainee said.
Another detainee added: “ Some people there are on hunger strike. They have gone for so many days without eating. Some ministers like Marafa jailed for embezzlement live in comfort upstairs while we were downstairs. Since some of our brothers here are looking for positions, they just call your name because they want to bring you down. They call me a terrorist when I don’t even know how to use a gun.”
Difficult to tell now if the reopening of schools will be effective in the English speaking regions of Cameroon as activists are calling for the release of Mancho Bibixy, the man who started the “coffin revolution.” Mancho Bibixy’s case has been adjourned to the 28th of September. For now the two English speaking zones of Cameroon remain heavily militarized.