By CYNTHIA AKUM
More and more youths in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon are increasingly being threatened and coerced to join separatist fighters commonly called “Amba boys” as tension heightens in the two restive English speaking regions. Reports are becoming very prevalent of youths who are either molested, flogged, or threatened with deaths if they don’t joined the Amba boys, fighting for a separate state termed Ambazonia.
What has become known as the Anglophone crisis, started as a strike action in November 2016 by lawyers and teachers in the North West and South West regions. The teachers and lawyers stood up against government’s attempt to assimilate the educational system. This strike moved from one stage to another, and has today metamorphosed into a serious conflict, and deadly clashes between the Cameroon defence forces and the separatist fighters.
National and international media reports hold that over 3000 persons have been killed, hundreds arrested and thousands of others escaping into neighbouring Nigeria or bushes in search of refuge. In the midst of this, the Cameroon Government, on the one hand, has not yielded to national and international calls for an inclusive dialogue; they are instead calling on separatist fighters to lay down their arms and return to normal life. Separatist fighters on the other hand have become resolute in their strive to having an independent state of Ambazonia, and have embarked on recruiting more youths to fight the regime in power.
Youths, who refuse to join the fighters are either threatened with death, molested or termed “black legs”. This is forcing many Cameroonians from North West and South West regions to vacate the Country for fear of being victimised.
One of the youths victimised by this coercive approach of getting fighters by the Amba boys, whose where-about remains unknown, is Samuel Lembah Wange from Tiko in the South West Region. The Sun has it on good record that separatist fighters stormed his neighbourhood repeatedly in May and June 2019 recruiting young boys to join them in fighting for “the liberation of Southern Cameroons” but Mr. Wange, like a few other youths, refused to comply. According to reports, the fighters were furious and warned Samuel that the only safe place for him is their “camp”.
The SUN gathered that, in May 2019, Government forces stormed Tiko and carted away with youths suspected to have joined the separatists to their post, where they were flogged mercilessly before being detained under dehumanising conditions. According to family sources, the uniform men also visited late Pa Lembah’s family in search of Samuel Lembah Wange, who wasn’t around on that fateful day.
The SUN later got it from reliable source that, as a result of the threat from both the separatist fighters and government security forces, Wange Samuel left Tiko for an unknown destination. Meanwhile, neighbours have testified that separatist fighters and military forces have been repeatedly seen around their family house.
It should be noted that any one recruited as a separatist fighter is forced to take an oath of allegiance till death, while those arrested in connection with Anglophone crisis, whether guilty or not, are immediately termed “terrorists” with the possibility of being tried in a military court. The cry of many is that the Cameroon Government harkens to calls for an inclusive and sincere dialogue for the crisis to be resolved so, things can return to normalcy in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.