Youths dying, fleeing as Anglophone crisis deepens

NEWS 25 Feb 2019
Youths dying, fleeing as Anglophone crisis deepens

The war in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon referred to by activists as Southern Cameroon or “Ambazonia” continues to rage unabated despite calls by national and international bodies for an inclusive dialogue to address the root causes of the problem.

Common Law Lawyers in Cameroon went on strike in October 2016 to protest government’s attempts to annihilate the Common Law practice in a constitutionally bilingual and bi-jural Cameroon. The strike lasted for over a year.

Anglophone teachers in the country joined the strike on November 21, 2016 to uphold Anglo-Saxon values under threat in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions. Same day, Mancho Bibixy staged a coffin revolution at Liberty Square in Bamenda to protest against the marginalisation and economic deprivation of Anglophones.

Matters came to a head on Thursday, December 8 when the population of Bamenda took to the streets to denounce the politicisation of a strike action they consider genuine and borne of longstanding grievances.

Days of ghost town have since been observed throughout the South West and North West Regions of the country.

On January 17, 2017, Barrister Nkongo Felix Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba, leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) were arrested moments after the consortium had been banned along with the SCNC.

Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, president of the self-styled state of Ambazonia was arrested in Nigeria on January 5, 2018 along with nine other members of his cabinet including Tassang Wilfred, Nfor Ngala Nfor and Barrister Eyambe Ebai.

The government crackdown on Anglophone activists has since intensified with arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and extra-judicial killings becoming the new normal, human rights groups have said.

The fate of many remains precarious as security forces battle separatists. President Paul Biya has since taken a tough position on the crisis in the two-English speaking regions. Guns have since taken the place of dialogue and peace.

Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, Founder of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (CHRDA) Buea says many villages have been burnt, hundreds of persons killed, and thousands displaced internally and externally.

The story is told of Ngum Suh Linda, a member of the banned Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) who was among those who fell in the security dragnet on October 1, 2016 in Buea. She was among the many who have been clamouring for the restoration of the independence of the North West and South West regions of Cameroon otherwise referred to as Southern Cameroons or Ambazonia. She was released three months later and she went comatose.

She would again be arrested on October 1, 2017 as they violated a gubernatorial restriction on movements to stage a so-called independence march in Buea. She is said to have been transferred to dreaded detention facilities in Yaoundé. Her whereabouts remains unknown. Family sources have since denied commenting on the issue.

This is the case of many others who may never be seen again as the conflict in the restive regions shows no sign of ending any time soon.

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