Anglophone activists flee as gov’t steps up crackdown

NEWS 20 Mar 2018
Anglophone activists flee as gov’t steps up crackdown

By Simon Ndive Kalla

As the crisis that has been rocking the North West and South West regions rages on, the government has stepped up its crackdown on those identified to be linked to the Ambazonia movement.

Security operatives have been apprehending and incarcerating activists identified to be involved with what has come to be referred to as the Anglophone struggle. The arrested activists, we learnt, are tortured and detained under very horrendous conditions. Some have reportedly died in detention. It is for this reason that many have fled for fear of being arrested or fear of the unknown as extra-judicial killings have also become the order of the day.

It would be recalled that the Anglophone crisis, something that pundits say had been brewing for several years, boiled over in November 2016 when Common Law Lawyers in the North West and South West regions went on strike, paralyzing the courts. They were demanding for a return to the federal system of government, redeployment of Civil Law Magistrates back to Civil Law Courts among other grievances. Not long after, teachers in the North West and South West regions also went on strike, demanding for the redress of several issues concerning the English sub-system of education.

Things got worse when concerned citizens in the North West and South West regions, who had been fed up with the unfavourable political and especially economic stagnation of Cameroon at large, but more importantly in these regions, joined the strike.

After what has now been termed the Coffin Revolution in Bamenda, when a certain Mancho Bibixy appeared in the street with a coffin denouncing the bad state of roads in Bamenda, the population came out en mass, marched along the streets. When the police and gendarmes tried to disperse the crowd, there was an exchange with the security operatives, leading to several people shot dead and many others injured. Many more were arrested.

When the government later arrested and jailed some the leaders of the Anglophone struggle, the crisis took a new twist when it spiraled into an armed conflict as Anglophones declared what they call Federal Republic of Ambazonia.

One of the activists who have fled and for whom government has launched a manhunt is Suum Emmanuel Ndone, a businessman who was resident in Ekona, Fako division of the South West region.

We learnt that while in Europe, Suum took part in protest marches in Sweden, France, Belgium and United Kingdom to support the Ambazonia secessionist movement. He is said to have always been one of the front-liners during the demonstrations.

When Suum Emmanuel Ndone returned to Cameroon, he was arrested on February 12, 2018 in Ekona and accused of supporting the secessionist group known as Ambazonia Defence Force, ADF. After his arrest, Suum’s phone, computer, camera among others were seized by the police, who forced him to release to them the password of his phone and computer. Upon going through the phone and computer, the security men are said to have realised that Suum was truly a supporter of ADF. His financial support to the group while he was in Sweden was also confirmed.

Suum Emmanuel Ndone was manhandled, and whisked off to the Buea central prison where he was detained for eight days without access to his family and lawyers and tortured frequently.

However, on February 20, 2018 Suum gained freedom after his family is said to have intervened and bribed one of the security officers who released him. Suum Emmanuel Ndone is reported to have then fled the country and his whereabouts is not known. If rearrested he will be tried under the anti-terrorism law whose maximum penalty is the death sentence.

Meanwhile, Mancho Bibixy and other Anglophone activists, currently detained at the Kondengui prison in Yaounde, are facing trial at the Yaounde military tribunal.

The international community, including the United States of America, UN, Francophonie, African Union, among others, have called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

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