By Simon Ndive Kalla
As the crisis that has been rocking the North West and South West regions, which has now spiraled into an armed conflict, rages on,the government has stepped up its crackdown on those identified to be linked to the Ambazonia movement. Militants of the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, have been particularly targeted.
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.
The government has always accused SCNC members and other Anglophone secessionists in the diaspora of propelling the Anglophone crisis. The former Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, earlier emphasised that, the government will not dialogue or negotiate with the Anglophones or English-speaking people of Cameroon because they are the minority and their voices should not be heard. Sources have revealed that; the government is using its diplomatic networks to ensure that SCNC members and other Anglophone activists abroad are tracked down and extradited for persecution
Most of the activists who have been arrested are being detained under horrendous and inhuman conditions. Some have died in detention.
After releasing a list of Anglophone activists in the Diaspora, who were targeted for arrest some time ago, sources say a fresh list of SCNC members and other activists abroad has been re-established for arrest; more than a hundred names have reportedly been given to intelligence services in Cameroonian borders.
We learnt from informants that after several meetings held in Yaounde in a bid to seek ways to neutralise the growing Anglophone activism both within and without the country, a bigwig of the regime was sent on a mission abroad to lobby his way in causing the UN and other diplomatic services to frustrate the Anglophone struggle by neutralizing those in the Diaspora via their arrest and extradition.
As the Cameroon government continues in its scheme to clamp down on the Anglophone activists, many of them have been fleeing the country while those in the diaspora now fear for their lives.
Many of the activists are on the run as government has intensified a manhunt for them. One of such is Paul Che Shu, who has since 2015 been on government’s black list of wanted SCNC activists because of his stand against the marginalisation of Anglophones and the independence of the English-speaking people called the Southern Cameroons.
We gathered that Paul Che Shu was an SCNC member in Bondumain Buea local area where he was a publicity secretary and he was also a teacher in a school in that area.
Due to his SCNC activism, he was brutalised and beaten (Tortured) by policemen in 2015 after leaving one of their local chapter meetings and on his way home. He was then whisked off and detained at the cell of the police station.
Even though Paul Shu sustained wounds and was bleeding, he was continuously tortured and detained under horrendous and life-threatening conditions for about two days.
The Sun newspaper learnt that he was released to the hospital for treatment and thereafter his treatment he escaped from the hospital and did not return to the police station to continue his persecution as was the plan by the government.
Since then Paul Che Shu has gone underground but his family is constantly being harassed to declare his whereabouts. If apprehended by Cameroon security forces, he will, like other detained Anglophone activists, be tried under the anti-terrorism law whose maximum punishment is the death penalty. The police in Cameroon are on a manhunt for him. His case is compounded by the fact that he was a teacher and the current crisis stemmed from a strike by Anglophone teachers and Common Law lawyers.
Origin of crisis
It is worth recalling 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. They were demanding for the return of the federal system of government, redeployment of Civil Law Magistrates back to Civil Law Courts in French Cameroon, 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 system of education.
Things, however, got worst when Anglophones in both regions, who had been fed up with the unfavourable political and economic situation of the country, the use of French as the dominant and official language, and the marginalisation of the Anglophones, joined the strike.
The strike was met with brutal repression by the military which has today escalated into an armed conflict between the two camps with the rise of the “Ambazonia Self Defence forces” who are now also against the SCNC members for not taking up arms to join them fight because SCNC members stand for peaceful protest and continue asking for their rights. They also, on the other hand, arrest and torture teachers and students who go to school.
Today it is estimated that over 20,000 Southern Cameroonians have fled the country to neighbouring Nigeria, thousands of internally displaced people have fled into bushes/forests, and hundreds are being detained and many others missing. A huge number of civilian and military casualties have also been recorded.
While the Anglophone crisis continues to escalate, international organisations and other Western powers have called on the Government to address the root cause of the crisis through dialogue. They have also been calling for the release of all Anglophones unlawfully detained and imprisoned.