BY KENNETH YAIDOU
The war in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon referred to by activists as Southern Cameroon or “Ambazonia” continues to rage unabatedly despite calls by national and international bodies for an inclusive dialogue to address the root causes of the problem.
The corporatist demands presented by Anglophone unionists and activists have long been abandoned with violence taking centre stage. Cameroon’s defense and security forces have since engaged armed men fighting for the independence of a country they call Ambazonia.
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.
Many youths have been targeted, easily mistaken for activists. The story is told of Nsanyuy Armstrong Sama, who is now being accused of having links with activists abroad. Even without security forces building up evidence to support such claims, a warrant of arrest has already been issued.
A trusted source at the public security in Bamenda said they are not leaving any potential leads to chance. Most suspects arrested are often detained for long periods incommunicado and are later tried in military courts under a 2014 law on the suppression of acts of terrorism.
Amidst the uncertainty, many youths have fled the country to avoid being caught by either the security forces or the separatist fighters. While the soldiers see young men as separatists, the Non-state armed group forces young people to enroll into their ranks.