Cameroon is sinking into abyss – Abdulkarim Ali

INTERVIEW 18 Feb 2019
Cameroon is sinking into abyss – Abdulkarim Ali

In an interview conducted by Wifah Jennyhans and Weyih Blessing, Abdulkarim Ali, a Muslim scholar of the Bible and civil society activist narrates his ordeal suffered from security forces. He says those who inflict pains on Anglophone Cameroonians are not for the revolution, says Biya still has 15% chances to control the crisis, cautions civilians in the two regions to be vigilant and respect orders from both sides.

Abdulkarim Ali, a Muslim scholar

Abdulkarim Ali, a Muslim scholar

You recently suffered an ordeal in the hands of security forces. Can you narrate to us what happened?
I would like to begin by thanking God and asking Him to send his blessings upon His prophets and messengers and to all the righteous men and women who plead at all time and to you. I was arrested, very politely, the guys were in their civilian wear and they told their commissioner wants to see me at about 3:45-4pm yesterday, that was 25th January, 2019. They took me to the judicial police, I asked what I had done, nobody told me and even the commissioner said he didn’t know. They brought me back home searched the house, went the office searched the office and then took me to the station, they took no statement, they didn’t put me in their cell, they gave me a mattress and I asked for a prayer space, they allowed me to pray and at 6am today, the commissioner came and said i have been released. He actually drove me back home.

Do you plan to retaliate this act?
No. I won’t do that. That’s not my line of action. They never told me why told me why they are doing what they are doing, it is an eye-opener to me. It gives me more strength. The only reaction i have is to continue with my activism in the course of justice and fairness.
Can you deduce why this act was perpetrated on you?
Well! It’s a set up. They were searching for something they didn’t find. Sometimes people confuse between vocalisation which is an opinion activism as I do and I speak based on my knowledge and not necessarily that I am correct. From my understanding I speak, hence someone would think that those words match maybe some actions, acts of violence. I am not even violent in my speeches. I am simply straight-forward and pragmatic so someone may think, okay, since you lean those who are purported to be inciting violence, may be you yourself, you are acting violent. They came they didn’t see anything, it vindicates me more and it makes me more confident with my family that even if i didn’t keep something bad, nobody kept something bad in the house.
You are a keen observer of our geopolitical and socio-economic chessboard, what reading do you make of the country’s conflict-stricken NW/SW Regions?
I’ll say the escalation rate of the crisis is about 85%, there is still some 15% chance of maybe getting out via negotiations or some people call it dialogue but I can say it is a very optimum level of escalation. The country is sinking in the abyss and I’m afraid it may just sink altogether if care is not taken. The 15% I mentioned is big room enough for someone to exploit.

At 100 what happens?
At 100, it means total collapse, irreversibly-not just for the regime. The problem we have today is not just about the regime. We have to be honest with these things. Sothern Cameroonians, if you hear their readings, is not about changing the regime anymore. They are looking for statehood. You don’t just to do sugar coating and pretend there is no problem when there is a big problem. We have to be honest. A 100%, means both the regime fall off and the fall of Cameroon.

What do you make of government’s efforts so far towards resolving this problem?
It’s rather been unfortunate that the government in every step have put their carts before their horses. They have held meetings and they have had occasions and turned their orchestral later. They have been selling after the market. It is really unfortunate how they do things. I barely can put my hand on one thing that the government has done right. What I see them doing is shutting down the voices of those who speak, when you stop two people from speaking, there is one inevitable result. That is fighting.
Could the creation of NDDRC play the magic wand to end the crisis?
The committee has been set two months ago and everyone can tell the crisis has increased from the time it was decreed, people are still dying, and we are still very unsafe. It is not working because it doesn’t suffice for one party to another to lay down arms when they still have theirs. It is true; the government believes that it is the state with the legal right to own arms. On the other hand, the others think they have the right to own arms for defence. The best thing government should have done was to show some kind gesture by not laying down their arms but withdraw their troops from the restive region and invite the others for a dialogue.
There is the clamour for a third party to initiate dialogue. Who negotiates for a third party in such this case?
In this case those who feel oppressed call for a third party but in a war scenario, we have a body that constitutes nations, the UN and in the sub-region is the AU but unfortunately these organisations are crazy. They are waiting for things to get to the maximum de-escalation level before they come in, normally they are the third party and that is their role. So who calls for the third party, I think Southern Cameroonians have been calling a dialogue with a third party.
As the war rages on, the population is caught up in untold suffering inflicted on them by belligerents either deliberately or otherwise. What survival advice can you give these suffering lot?
What we must do is be very vigilant, be very calm, and control our tongue. If you want to speak, have a mastery of what you say. When hear gunshots, you watch out, when you hear there is a curfew, you watch out and when you hear there is a ghost town, you head to the call. Do not raise your shoulders above your head thinking that your right is more important than the parties who are at war. Understand the situation, work on our faith and pray to God.
What do you make of the separatists who inflict pains on the very people they claiming to be fighting for?
It is an unfortunate situation. In my understanding of a revolution, it constitutes of various factions in the same war. You the true freedom fights, you thieves, you have personal militia. In this case you don’t know if the real fighters are inflicting pains on their population as you mentioned but these are the spoils of a revolution.
Are you opining that those who inflict pains on their own via kidnaps, torture and extortion of money are not for the revolution?
Yes, they are not. That’s bullshit, you can’t be hurting the very thing you claim to be defending.
If you were asked what should be done to sustainably arrest the armed struggle, what will you say?
If we talk about justice, practice justice, the inevitable effect will be peace. For a sustainable measure, we’ve said this many times and over. The 15% I mentioned earlier is what the head of state in my opinion has and he has the yam and the knife to call for a ceasefire, pull back his military, release everyone arrested in connection with the crisis, totally and completely grant amnesty, fall on the negotiation table. Please if anyone has any better measure, i want them to bring it, and if anyone thinks this thing would be resolved without following simple procedures that not myself, many others have suggested, we are waiting.

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