BY LUSY LIMA
The Cameroon Government has resorted to a more sophisticated military operations to crackdown on Ambazonia fighters and Anglophone activists in total defiant to the peace, which many anticipated will return to the crisis–hit North West and South West regions after the Major National Dialogue.
Gun battles, abductions, burning of houses and villages, arrest and detention, killings etc.have continued unabated since the Major National Dialogue ended, with the Government revisiting files of many activists suspected to be in connection with the current impasse.
As tensions intensify, the civilian population in these regions remains in peril, panic and pandemonium. Reports say this situation has induced mass exodus to French speaking towns and cities in Cameroon. Others have also fled to neighbouring countries as refugees.
According to statistics from human right groups, thousands of houses and over 300 villages have been razed, over 3000 persons killed, hundreds kidnapped, over 53000 identified as Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, with over 35000 as refugees in Nigeria.Some have been left in constant tears either for the demise of their love ones or because their houses have been razed.
Meanwhile, reports hold that many have been placed under security search light for propagating secession and restoration of the Southern Cameroons statehood. A case in point is Mr. Mbetem Simon Tesou, a teacher with several publications to his credit, whose where about remains cloudy since early 2019, according to family sources. He is said to have escaped from the Buea Central Prison thanks to family intervention after three months of detention where he was subjected to inhumane treatment.
Mbetem Simon’s activism according to close friends and family members can be traced as far back as his days in the University of Dschang, where he was noted for preaching against injustice, corruption and marginalisation against Anglophone students, especially the discrimination of coefficient accorded English Courses. It is said that he was even suspended as Course Delegate because of his outspoken nature.
In 2016 when the crisis started and members of the outlawed Civil Society Consortium like Barrister Agbor Balla and Dr Fontem Neba abducted in 2017, Mr. Mbetem, true to himself, joint a peaceful demonstration requesting for their release. Unfortunately, he was arrested alongside others and only released days after, upon signing an undertaking that any “least crime” he commits will end him in jail.
After the release, he is said to have left for Limbe to meet his family relation. While in Limbe, he joined the peaceful demonstration called by the leader of the self-proclaimed State of Ambazonian, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe against marginalisation in October 1, 2017. The demonstration is said to have gone bloody leading to the arrest of many, with others, including Mbetem Simon, escaping into the forest.
The SUN gathered that after staying in the forest for a year, he returned to his sister’s home. Shortly after his return, military men, who have been looking for him and his likes since the 2017 demonstration, stormed his sister’s residence; arrested and whisked him into the Buea Central Prison where he was placed under dehumanising conditions. He was only release three months later thanks to family intervention, who also negotiated his escape to an unknown destination, a close family source hinted.
The SUN has it on good record that since his escape, the Cameroon Government has revisited his case file a couple of times, while impromptu visits are constantly made to his family residence in a bid to coerce family members to reveal the whereabout of Mbetem Simon Tesou. There are speculations that if Mr. Mbetem is arrested, he will be tagged terrorism charges and might be slammed a life jail sentence like the leader of the self-proclaimed State of Ambazonian, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others.
The Anglophone crisis, which started in 2016 with a strike action by Common Law Lawyers and Anglophone Teachers against marginalisation has metamorphosed into an arm conflict. Anglophones from all walks of life, including Southern Cameroon National Council , SCNC, members, youths and the clergy have been killed in the cross- fire between security forces and separatist fighters, while others have been arrested, by security forces or kidnapped by separatist fighters. These attacks have been so alarming that human rights groups across the board have concluded that Cameroon is longer safe.