A woman has fallen to her knees while making an emotional plea for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help her family in Cameroon, following a press conference in central Queensland.
The moment captured on camera showed the distressed woman on the ground begging Mr Morrison to help people in the central African nation, who she alleged were facing grave human rights violations.
The Cameroonian government has been accused of extrajudicial killings and unlawful detentions amid conflicts with separatists in the country that have displaced tens of thousands of people.
“There is a genocide going on there,” the woman, Lillian, told Mr Morrison.
“Help me. Help me. Everyday my people are being killed. I go through trauma everyday.”
Lillian – who requested her last name be withheld – accuses the government in Cameroon of “killing people who have been protesting”.
Mr Morrison attempted to comfort Lillian as she shared her account with him, saying he would ask local member Michelle Landry – who was also present – to pursue her concerns.
“We are bringing many people across under our refugee program from Africa – so we are doing that,” Mr Morrison told Lillian.
“And if there are family members or others who are part of that process I know Michelle will pursue those matters with the immigration minister.”
Lillian later told SBS News she had made the public display to ask Mr Morrison to help people seeking asylum from Cameroon.
“People in Australia don’t know how bad the situation is in Cameroon,” she told SBS News.
“I asked the prime minister for help. There are people seeking asylum and Australia must try to help them escape.”
The refugee, who came to Australia in 2009, said she was happy with Mr Morrison’s response.
“I was very happy for my voice to be heard,” she said.
Human Rights Watch has accused Cameroonian government forces and armed groups of committing human rights abuses, including extrajudicial executions and mass killings.
The group’s World Report 2021 also states that the Cameroonian government has continued to restrict freedom of expression and become increasingly intolerant of political dissent.
The human rights monitor warns that hundreds of civilians have been killed since January 2020 in the country’s northwest and southwest regions amid conflicts with separatist groups.
The Islamist armed group Boko Haram has also carried out attacks in the far-north region from this time, killing hundreds of civilians, the group says.
Southern Cameroon community representative Tetu Gana said many in the Australian Cameroon community had family impacted by killings that have taken place in the country.
He called on the Australian government to speak out more strongly against alleged human rights violations taking place in Cameroon.
“It is a very disturbing issue for all of the community in Australia,” he told SBS News.
“We are tired of the killings … do something to end the killings.”