Several Anglophone separatists have stormed the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, and the European Union, EU, in Cyprus.
Carrying blue and white stripped flags believed to be that of a self-declared state called Ambazonia, the separatists chanted liberation songs and waved placards calling on the UN and EU to stop what they described as “genocide going on in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon”. They urged both international organisations to “to urgently intervene in the restoration of the statehood of Ambazonian”.
After long hours in front of the UN and EU offices where they staged peaceful demonstrations without being attended to, the protesters decided to march along the street to the Hilton Hotel where the UN officials were said to be holding a meeting. Here, they continued protesting, braving the rains that fateful day.
Meanwhile, as the crisis that has been rocking the North West and South West regions, which has spiraled into an armed conflict, rages on, the government has stepped up its crackdown on all those suspected to be activists or sympathizers of the Anglophone cause.
In this light, security operatives have been indiscriminately arresting Anglophone activists, suspected activists, innocent and unarmed civilians. This has caused many of them to flee into hiding and the whereabouts of many remains unknown.
It would be recalled that the crisis began in October 2016 when Common Law lawyers went on strike to protest against the appointment of French-speaking Magistrates in courts in the English-speaking regions and the dominance of civil law over common law.
They said it was an attempt to erode the bi-jural nature of the country. The lawyers were also demanding for a return to the federal system of government. On November 21, 2016, teachers in the North West and South West regions joined the strike and the population also stepped in, protesting over what they said was marginalisation of the minority Anglophones by the majority Francophone government in Yaounde.
After the government used repressive military action to quell the protests, some Anglophones were radicalised and began calling for complete split to form what they have named the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
Among some of the activists who have fled for fear of their lives is Chamen Armando, who together with two of his friends joined one of the protests on October 1, 2017. As they marched with placards on the streets singing freedom songs, security officers responded with the full firepower of the state. Live bullets were fired into the crowds leaving many dead, several others wounded and hundreds arrested.
Armando lost two of his friends to bullet wounds as the peaceful protests turned deadly. He is said to have fled for his life as the security operatives were arbitrarily arresting anybody suspected to have taken part in the protest. All those arrested have since been charged with terrorism punishable by death, according to the 2014 law on the suppression of acts terrorism.
Other activists such as Ngwa Kelvin, NdehFru Benjamin, Peter Che, Ayamba Derrick, who were also part of the protest march, had long fled.
Family flees after father’smurder
In the meantime, the family of police commissioner,Ngong James Kwanga, who was recently kidnapped and later killed by Ambazonia separatist fighters, is reported to have escaped for fear of their lives.
It would be recalled that in May 2018, the separatist groups popularly known as “Amba boys” kidnapped Commissioner Ngong James Kwanga, who was police boss in Kumba, Meme division of the South West Region. He was later beheaded and his house in the village was set on fire by the same separatist fighters. We learned that Commissioner Ngong James Kwanga was killed and the separatists are after his family because he refused to resign from the police and join the Anglophone struggle.
The separatist fighters have promised to kill Ngong Aristide Kwanga, son of the police commissioner, if he does not join them in fighting for the independence of Ambazonia. It was in this light that Ngong Aristide Kwanga had to escape for safety.
It would be noted that many people have been killed, tens of thousands have fled into neighbouring Nigeria as refugees, and hundreds of thousands are internally displaced due to the Anglophone crisis.
According to Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, a human rights lawyer andfounder of the Centre of Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA, there are almost 32,000 officially registered Anglophone refugees in Nigeria. He adds that thousands are detained in connection to the Anglophone crisis in prisons in Yaounde, Bamenda, Buea and Bafoussam.