“Caught in Hell”: Complaint Shows Horrors Inflicted on African Asylum Seekers

In 2018, a crisis year in Cameroon marked by violent oppression inflicted by forces of the Francophone majority upon the English-speaking minority, Divine Tikum Kem, a shopkeeper in the country’s English-speaking northwest region, was beaten unconscious by members of the military. Kem says his shop had been targeted as a site of resistance in the continuing struggle for increased autonomy in the Anglophone region following the questionably democratic election of President Paul Biya to a seventh term, a vote the BBC reports was characterized by “low turnout and voter intimidation.”

After two weeks in the hospital, word reached Kem that the military was hunting him down. He barely escaped being snatched from his hospital bed and arrested. Days later, his business was ravaged by the military, the stock looted, shelving and equipment destroyed. In fear for his life, still in pain from nerve damage to his arm and other bodily trauma sustained during the assault, he fled the country with the aim of seeking asylum in the U.S. Because of the severity of his injuries and the verifiably credible threats against him, he thought that the U.S. would protect him.

“I never believed what would happen to me in Louisiana could happen,” Kem told Truthout from an undisclosed location on the African continent. “It was like slavery had not ended.”

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