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The United States demanded an immediate end to violence in Cameroon on Thursday and a speedy start to talks between the government and Anglophone separatists without preconditions.

U.S. deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the Security Council that security and humanitarian conditions in Cameroon’s English-speaking North West and South West regions “have significantly deteriorated.”

October was the most violent month on record in recent years — and November is likely to surpass it, he said.

Hundreds have been killed in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions in months of fighting between the military and separatists who claim they are marginalized in the largely French-speaking country.

“The violence must stop now,” Cohen said. “The United States calls for an immediate and broad-based reconciliatory dialogue, without preconditions. … We urge all sides to foreswear violence, to restore peace, and to resolve their grievances through political dialogue.”

He said the escalating violence is obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid to over 430,000 internally displaced people as well as education and health access to children in rural areas.

Reena Ghelani, director of U.N. humanitarian operations, warned that Cameroon is “one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa,” saying that in addition to those who have fled their homes and remain in the country over 30,000 Cameroonians have crossed the border into Nigeria seeking refuge.

The majority of internally displaced Cameroonians “are hiding in dense forests, without adequate shelter and lacking food, water and basic services,” Ghelani said. “Schools and markets are also disrupted and there are alarming health needs.”

“We note with great concern the deteriorating situation with respect to the protection of civilians, including reported killings, burning of homes and villages, extortion and kidnappings in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon,” she said, adding that there have been multiple attacks on schools and threats to students and teachers.

British deputy ambassador Jonathan Allen said the United Kingdom takes Ghelani’s warning very seriously and announced a $3.1 million contribution from the government to the U.N. appeal for the Anglophone regions to address immediate humanitarian and medical needs.

This represents 20 percent of the U.N. appeal, he said, urging other countries to contribute.

Both Allen and Cohen stressed Cameroon’s important role in fighting against the Boko Haram group and other Islamic State extremists.

Cohen noted Cameroon President Paul Biya expressed confidence in his inaugural address on Nov. 6 that “there is an honorable way out in everyone’s interest.”

The United States encourages Biya “to make good on his commitment to accelerate the decentralization process” and implement recommendations of a Cameroonian commission on bilingualism and multiculturalism, Cohen said.

Allen said that “words alone will not improve things” and strongly urged Cameroon’s government to take urgent action to start a dialogue, undertake confidence-building measures, allow humanitarian access throughout the country, and ensure “accountability for all those responsible for human rights violations and abuses.”

Source: Foxnews

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Up to 50 Christian schools and hospitals have been affected, and the military has kidnapped four churches. “We need peace and the UN intervention”, a Cameroonian Christian says.

Last October, Paul Biya (86), the second longest serving president of Africa, won the elections in Cameroon with more than 70% of the votes.

The octogenarian, who has been in power for 36 years, will continue in office at least six more, despite the complaints of the opponent Maurice Kamto, who appealed the elections and unsuccessfully claimed their nullity.

THE CONFLICT IN AMBAZONIA

One of the most difficult scenarios for the president is the conflict with the self-proclaimed Republic of Ambazonia, in the West and English-speaking region, with three million people.

Up to now, the president’s policy has been based, above all, on military actions in favor of the defense of a unitary and centralized state in Yaoundé, against the groups in favor of independence that denounce what they consider to be privileges of the French-speaking part.

The conflict, which has its origins in the colonial division of the continent and the incorporation in 1961 of the former South Cameroon, occupied by the British, to Cameroon, of French exploitation, has caused the death of hundreds of people, including an American missionary killed in October, and the displacement of tens of thousands since 2016.

“WE NEED PEACE AND THE UN INTERVENTION”

Christians are not exempt from constant confrontations either. In fact, they have been the object of one of the last actions by the independence militias, which in early November kidnapped 80 students from the Presbyterian school in Bamenda.

Although the students have been released, “we need peace and the UN intervention”, says a Methodist Christian in Cameroon, who has agreed to speak with Spanish news website Protestant Digital, preferring to keep his identity anonymous.

“Many people die every day, homes and villages are burned, there are famished people and also those who take refuge in Nigeria. We do not have a voice in our country”, he adds.

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

Up to 50 primary and secondary schools and Christian hospitals have been affected by the conflict, according to the secretary of communication and information of the Council of Protestant Churches of Cameroon, Gustav Ebai, who has lost four relatives in the clashes.

The military has also kidnapped four churches to turn them into barracks. “The government of Ambazonia, which controls most of the Northwest and Southwest, has placed a group of soldiers in the school until the crisis is resolved”.

“There are often shootings between different forces, and a stray bullet can kill a minor”, explains the Methodist believer. Because of this tension, the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC), published a statement last October, in the community bank holiday.

“Given what the English-speaking community is going through at this time, we cannot have a celebration while many of God’s children are being killed, suffering or living as internal or external refugees”, says the text signed by the Reverend Fonki Samuel Forba, of the PCC.

“The emphasis should be placed on supplying the Working Fund for the Mission, to allow the church to continue assisting our pastors and brothers displaced by the armed conflict that has brought pain and suffering to many”, the document adds.

CAMEROON RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY

53% of the population in Cameroon is considered Christian, according to the Joshua project. Of these, about 39% are Catholics, 22% Protestants and just over 33% belong to other denominations.

The sources consulted explain that “Cameroon is a country of religious tolerance. There is freedom of worship. Most of the Christians in the country are Catholics, Presbyterian, Baptists and Evangelicals, but there are also Pentecostal groups that are growing”.

In addition, “the main challenge is to meet, and this has made it difficult for the church to have a strong voice in the country”.

According to Central African missionary of Assemblies of God in Cameroon, Adongo Augustin Atilas, “believers are not united and live much more the syncretism and its ritual practices, especially when there is a birth or during the mourning after a funeral”.

Ethnic religions represent the third largest group of people in the country, with almost 22% of the population. The second group is Islam (24%), especially in the Northern part of the country, which lives in conflict because of the presence of Boko Haram and Fulani shepherds.

“Muslims and Christians have no problem in Cameroon. They live well and sometimes can share views on Jesus, although it is a taboo for some Muslims. They can visit you at night to pray and study the Bible, but they will never go to church”, Atilas says.

POLITICAL INTERFERENCES

The increasing conflict in recent years has mainly generated two political reactions to the religious fact: indifference and suspicion, depending on the point of view from which one looks.

“The government does not care about anything, it has no solution for the problems of the people, nor is it prepared to listen to the weeping of the masses”, explains the Christian Methodist.

Atilas believes that “Christians in Cameroon are not free to express their beliefs and are threatened by the bad government of the country”.

“We knew that there would be fraud in the elections since the beginning. Biya organized the vote, counted the ballots, registered them and proclaimed the results, despite being also a candidate. What can you expect?”

Lately, politics has also become part of “the prominent churches” of the country. In fact, according to the Catholic newspaper La Croix, Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Catholic leaders, have created an alliance with representatives of the Muslim community to mediate in the conflict.

It is estimated that about one hundred pastors of the PCC have fled from the southwest and Northwest regions, because of the conflict.

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Author: Jonatán Soriano

Source: evangelicalfocus.com

Over 30,000 Southern Cameroonians are currently in asylum in Nigeria — they are located in Cross River, Benue and Taraba states. Many more are still coming as the government of President Paul Biya clamps down on Southern Cameroon dissidents who are agitating for Ambazonia Republic. In Nigeria where those who fled the country are seeking asylum, they have not found solace as they live in constant fear of arrest, extortion and deportation as revealed in this report. 

Living on the edge

AKUME Joshua has mixed feelings about the safety of his family in Nigeria despite running away from President Paul Biya’s troops on December 18, 2017.

In Calabar, Cross River State where he lives in the asylum with his wife and son, the fear of an imminent arrest and repatriation to Cameroon hunts him every night. A supermarket owner back in Southern Cameroon, Joshua lost his grocery store to the crisis and now go for a scrounge in Nigeria.

Since October 1, 2017, when fighting broke out in the Anglophone Cameroon, where the English speaking minority declared independence from Francophone Cameroon, under the name Ambazonia Republic, more and more Southern Cameroonians have fled the country, seeking asylum in Nigeria.

Roughly 20 per cent of the country’s population of 24.6 million people are Anglophone.

Attacks and raids on villages in Southern Cameroon by government armies have intensified since after election when 85-year-old President Paul Biya won another re-election—his seventh term in office.

There has been an air of uncertainty among the people. On June 10, when refugees filed out for food distribution at Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) office in Calabar,  a letter from the Cameroon Consular addressed the director general of the agency asking that the refugees be arrested because they are not refugees but terrorists, and should be arrested and send back to Cameroon. “When this information got to us we were afraid, there was panic among us,” he says.

This has kept Joshua and his countrymen in constant fear. The matter became worse when Nigerian security operatives restricted the movement of refugees within the country despite an Identity Card issued by the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

Refugees, he says, are now veritable means of extortion for the security operatives.

“Freedom of movement of refugees has been a problem- we can’t move from town to town freely. Even with your yellow card, certificate of asylum issued by the National Commission for Refugees they still stop them and tell them that they are not supposed to move within the country. Most time they extort money from them – sometimes, people pay as much as N30, 000,” he says.

A Protection Officer at UNHCR office in Calabar who admitted there have been reports of such arrests and extortion says that the agency is holding series of meetings with the police authorities, Immigration and the Nigerian Army “so that they can recognize the ID card issued by the Refugee Commission.”

“I just had a meeting with the State Commissioner of Police on those matters and we are also working with the Immigration and the Army over it,” he said.

The allegation is not a one-off experience—seven Southern Cameroonians who just escaped into Calabar were arrested by men of 13 Brigade of Nigerian Army. But for the intervention of the Refugee Agency they were released, Joshua said.

He says the seven were suspected to be Anglophone combatants, “because of their dressings.”

“The clothes they wearing were not very clean because they had travelled the bush for fear. When they got here, they didn’t have any other dress to change, they were looking dirty and they came in a group, so they thought they were combatant.”

Also, they allege that men of Nigerian Immigration Service also declined to recognize the Identity Card issued by the Refugee Commission.

“The Immigration intimidates us most often, they claim not to recognize us, sometimes we have to call the UNHCR staff,” Ako Albor, Vice Chairman of Southern Cameroonian Refugees in Adagom Refugees Resettlement, Ogoja Local Government says.

But the refugees are unhappy that their plights have not received the attention it deserved from the international community and the media. Quite frankly too, talks about the crisis between Francophone and Anglophone Cameroons that has displaced more than 160,000 within Cameroon since 2016 have not gained prominence among world leaders.

Leaders of Southern Cameroonian refugees in Ogoja, Cross River State.
Photo Credit: YEKEEN Akinwale

Albor, a French- English Translator from Manyu Division of Southern Cameroon wonders why “nobody in the international community is talking about their plights.”

“I think Paul Biya has a very strong Mafia among the AU and they are doing everything in his favour.”

According to him, the recent victory of Paul Biya in the general election dashed their hope of any quick resolution of the crisis.

“We thought the opposition would win the election because that would have offered some hope of dialogue and perhaps a settlement.”

The return of Biya has led to more clamp down in the country− his immediate actions show that he is not working towards any immediate resolution, Albor says.

“Last night, a journalist was arrested and those that are in detention, we don’t know what he plans to do with them.”

As the world keeps mum about the crisis, international media also appears to be looking the other side from the civil war. Ignatius Mezam, a teacher in Southern Cameroon laments that international media such as the Cable Network News (CNN) and Aljazeera have not given their crisis the required attention.

“When you look at other revolutions going on across the world, they are prominent in the news, but you don’t hear about Southern Cameroon issue,” Mezam says.

“The CNN, Aljazeera have not given it prominence in their reportage, is it because we are black. The battle is only fought on the Facebook by Facebook warriors.”

Over 30,000 Southern Cameroonians currently in Nigeria- figures still growing

On a daily basis, the population of Southern Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria keeps increasing, Tunde Akinsanya, Calabar Zonal Director, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Person revealed.

The Commission registers refugees and issues them Identity Card, Onasanya says, and “the refugees keep coming as the crisis continues.”

Many more are running away from their homes as government forces keep arresting dissidents and setting villages ablaze especially after the election.

Data obtained from the office of UNHCR revealed that there were 23,620 refugees as of October 31 in Cross River State. Of these figures, 10,386 of them were male while 13,234 were female. While there were 333 births since January, the number of children among the refugees stood at 11,514.

By the middle of October, there were about 28,000 of the refugees registered by the Nigerian National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

However, as of early November, a top staff of the UNHCR who would not want his name mentioned revealed that the figured has gone up to 30,000.

Of the over 30,000 refugees, 5000 of them are currently at Adag0m Settlement in Ogoja and over 60 per cent of them are of school-age children- many of the children are those separated and unaccompanied. Those identified are kept with foster parents in the settlement, a UNHCR says.

“We have close to 28,000 registered refugees,” an official of the Nigerian Refugee Commission said, “but the registration is ongoing if we give you a figure today it may increase tomorrow.”

“This is not necessarily the true reflection of incoming, they are still coming. There are some who do come and do not report here but just settle in the nearby village,” says the official who also pleaded for anonymity.

We have been receiving people in terms of surge of refugees who keep coming to Nigeria, says a UNHCR Protection Officer in Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State.

When will this end? Osany Juliet has been living in perpetual depression since gendarmes in 2017 killed her father and arrested her husband — he is kept in a prison in Buea, Cameroon.

October 7, 2017 —exactly 3 pm, a helicopter loaded with government troops landed in Daddi village in Akwaya, Manyu division, everyone in sight was shot at and killed, recalls Juliet, a mother of two.

Some days, she wonders if she will ever see her husband again, or if her life will ever remain the same without him. “Right now, I don’t know how he is doing, I know that the situation with him is not an easy one,” she says with wet eyes.

“My husband was arrested by the gendarmes on his way from the farm because he didn’t know what was happening in the village.”

On other days, she feels terrified by the memories of what has happened in her village and again, the recurring fears that the government may come after those of them under asylum in Nigeria

She is in Calabar where she hopes that life can again be better for her— though Juliet admits coping has been somewhat herculean with two kids and an elderly mother to cater for.

“Please if there is any way you can help me, please you do,” she appealed to the reporter.

Like Juliet, life is becoming more hopeless for Abunaw Lucy and her four kids. A look of anguish sweeps across her face at the thought of the fate of her husband whose whereabouts is unknown after he escaped arrest by government troops on June 9, 2017.

After two arrests and two detentions with her six-week-old baby, she escaped through a forest to Nigeria via Ikom, Cross River State.

Each time she was detained, Lucy spent between five and 10 hours in detention for two days when her husband could not be located. “I was arrested and detained for two days,” she says, “I wasn’t thrown into the cell because of the baby,” “I was kept on the veranda for two days under harsh conditions.”

Her baby ended up with a respiratory infection after those two days spent at the military detention facility. The couples and their children were living in Manfe, in Manyu, South West Region, but  Abunaw David, was on the targets list of the government for his involvement in the struggle for independence.

David was the spokesperson for Justice Ayah Paul Abine− a presidential candidate of the opposition party, People’s Action Party in 2011−arrested January 21, 2017, by gendarmes on an allegation of hostility against the nation.

But the mother of four is still uncomfortable despite being in Nigeria because, according to many Southern Cameroonian refugees, the Cameroonian Consular in Nigeria has designated them terrorists who should be handed over to the Cameroonian authority. There are claims of arbitrary arrests of refugees by Cameroonian forces. Every day, she wakes up with the fear of a possible arrest and extradition by Cameroonian government.

“I’m still afraid to attend meetings or interact for a long time and the fact that Cameroon Consular office is in Calabar which I know and convinced they are working with Cameroon government scares me more.”

“They may be sending spies to monitor refugees’ movement and activities so that they can arrest and extradite us,” she says as her voices cracks with fear.

Tears and hopelessnessAfter sleeping on a mat throughout the period of her pregnancy, 23-year-old Ata Jennifer − a Southern Cameroonian − finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy sometime mid-October at a hospital in Ogoja Local Government. “I slept on the mat until I gave birth,” she says.

With a three-week-old baby in a Refugee Settlement in Adagom, Ogoja and among  5,000 Southern Cameroonians being settled at the camp −the crisis back home casts a bleak shadow over her future and that of her newborn.

For her, it was by providence that she gave birth to a healthy baby without complications− at the moment, most pregnant women among the refugees did not have access to an ante-natal clinic during pregnancy –and living conditions at the settlement made the prospect of any easy delivery doubtful.

But Jennifer was lucky; she and her baby are healthy, though help from the United Agency for Refugee, UNHCR did not get to her when she was in labour pains and eventually delivered of a baby at a hospital.

She couldn’t get a mattress from the agency, because, “mattress is given based on the family size,” an official of the UNHCR said. “It’s one mattress per a family of five and below, the rest are mats.”

With her baby and her younger sister, she shares a tent furnished with a mat and a blanket. Her shelter is among the 140 just constructed by UNHCR.

The young mother was writing a final Advanced Level examination to proceed to the university when she and her family fled their home.

After a perilous journey through forest and river, Jennifer in early stage pregnancy made it to Nigeria on November 17, 2017 – her father was not so lucky— he died in the forest of shock — the second day of their escape from home. With the help of fishermen, she alongside her mother and sister sailed safely to Nigeria. “It was very critical running with pregnancy, but I had to manage because there was no option,” she said of her ordeals running to Nigeria particularly with pregnancy.

“We had to run to the bush at that night. We slept there that night. Four of us, my father, mum and my sister- it was heavily raining. The next day we tried running to cross the border area but we could not make it. I was pregnant then. The next day, I lost my father.”

Suckling her three-week-old son in front of a temporary shelter provided by the UNHCR, Jennifer speaks of how her father was declared wanted by the Biya-led government and how critical it was for her running with pregnancy from the gendarmes.

At Umojok in Southern Cameroon, her father was accused by the Francophone Cameroonian government of fortifying young boys with a local gun proof called “Odeshi.”

Amidst sobs, she says the accusation against her late father was unfounded.

“Odeshi is a secret cult whereby boys put marks on their body, it is called gun proof. That was what I heard which was a lie; my father did not do such a thing,” the 23-year-old Jennifer said.

For her and her baby, surviving in a refugee camp has been very challenging. Often, passersby offer her money to eat and take care of her baby because the relief package from the Refugee Agency did not get to her.

At Adagom, there were 15 deliveries in the last two months, but some of the babies died, during after delivery due to poor health care services at the settlement, says Albor who lives at the settlement.

There are other new arrivals who are pregnant and without tents yet. “They sleep in the hall and they eventually deliver, we have some cases of them. They are forced to sleep on the floor together with their newborn babies,”Albor says.

Birthrate at the settlement is overwhelming the refugee Agency−it has stopped distribution of baby kits to nursing mothers because there is a shortfall in the supply. The leadership of the refugees revealed that the Agency no longer distribute baby needs to nursing mothers in the settlement.

“When a woman is pregnant, they no longer care to say take these baby kits, not even one single thing.”

“It’s something I cannot actually explain, but when we questioned them, they said, the provision is not there and sometimes, they said the birth rate is too high, they don’t encourage such situation within the settlement.”

Save the children, an organization that focuses on child Protection, child poverty, education, health (WASH) & nutrition), was involved in the provision of baby kits for pregnant women and nursing mothers among the refugees−but has not resumed such gesture since refugees moved to Adagan Settlement in Ogoja. What was provided by the Southern Cameroonians in the Diaspora at the inception of the settlement is also exhausted.

Author:  

Source: icirnigeria.org

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The Southern Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria have accused the international community and the African Union (AU) of not doing enough to proffer political solution to the crisis going on between Anglophone Cameroon and the Francophone side led by President Paul Biya.

The aggrieved refugees also carpeted international media for under-reporting their plights since October 1, 2017, when a crisis erupted between the Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon after the formerly declared independence.

Ako Albor, Vice Chairman of Southern Cameroonian Refugees in Adagan Refugees Resettlement, Ogoja, Cross River State, lamented that the international community has been ‘dormant’ on their matter.

Albor, French- English Translator from Manyu Division of Southern Cameroon wondered why “nobody in the international community is talking about their plights.”

“I think Paul Biya has a very strong Mafia among the AU and they are doing everything in his favour.”

He said that AU, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and other countries were supposed to be the first stakeholders in their matter but have done little or nothing to resolve the crisis.

Nigeria government should do more in resolving the crisis, Albor said, “Nigeria and Southern Cameroon people have a long history together. Nigeria cannot be indifferent in this case.”

He said Nigeria should be the first to stand openly with Southern Cameroons, adding that Nigeria should not shy away from speaking the truth.

According to him, the recent victory of Paul Biya in the general election dashed their hope of any quick resolution of the crisis.

“We thought the opposition would win the election because that would have offered some hope of dialogue and perhaps a settlement.”

The return of Biya has led to more clamp down in the country− his immediate actions show that he is not working towards any immediate resolution, Albor said.

“Last night, a journalist was arrested and those that are in detention, we don’t know what he plans to do with them.”

Ignatius Mezam, a teacher in Southern Cameroon lamented that international media such as the Cable Network News (CNN) and Aljazeera have not given their crisis the required attention.

“When you look at other revolutions going on across the world, they are prominent in the news, but you don’t hear about Southern Cameroon issue,” Mezam said.

“The CNN, Aljazeera have not given it prominence in their reportage, is it because we are black. The battle is only fought on the Facebook by Facebook warriors.”

War broke out between Biya-led government and Southern Cameroonians after the latter on October 1, 2017, though a minority, declared independence under the name Ambazonia Republic.

Tens of thousands of Southern Cameroonians have fled the country in the wake of the clampdown by the Francophone Cameroonian government.

Over 30,000 of them are currently under asylum in Nigeria− Cross River, Benue and Taraba state, according to National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and UNHCR.

Source: icirnigeria.org

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A Cameroonian lady was in Rwanda’s capital in October 2018, distributing petitions to Rwandan officials.

She shared printouts of the petition with Taarifa.

One of the copies was addressed to President Paul Kagame himself as Chairman of the African Union and in his capacity as the President of the Republic of Rwanda.

We cannot confirm whether President Kagame has read the letter yet.

The content of the letter was disturbing.

In the appeal, they cry about President Paul Biya’s massacre of the Ambazonians, after describing them as “terrorists” and “secessionists” those campaigning for the restoration of their independence.

The appeal also seeks help to stop the killings in what they described as a genocide.

One of the lines in the petition will get you perturbed.

“In a language reminiscent of the Rwanda Genocide, officials of Mr. Biya’s government have referred to Ambazonians as “rats”, “roaches”, “dogs”, “enemies in the house”, “secessionists” and “terrorists” and have pledged to treat them worse than Boko Haram Islamic extremists/terrorists.”

“We write to appeal for your help in addressing the root causes and bringing about a sustainable solution to the territorial dispute,” the letter addressed to President Kagame reads.

The lady, who requested not to be named for fear that her family and friends would be targeted and killed in her village, left Kigali and headed to USA.

She could not permit us to publish the conversation we held with her as well.

She put us in touch with Ntumfoyn Boh Herbert, the Spokesperson for the Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons, a movement that has joined effort with other five political movements fighting for the liberation of the Ambazonians.

Below is a lengthy exclusive interview describing the root cause of the conflict, the countries involved, why appeal to President Kagame and what the people of Ambazonia are doing to liberate themselves.

What is happening in Cameroon now, can you give us a brief idea of what the situation looks like?

Cameroon’s president for the past 36 years, Paul Biya, 85, was sworn into office on another seven-year term (his seventh oath of office) since he first took power on 6 November 1982. The election which Mr. Biya is credited with wining with over 71 percent of the vote is contested by the opposition. A former minister of justice, Prof. Maurice Kamto, has claimed victory, accused Biya of staging an election hold-up, invited the international community to organize a vote recount and pledged peaceful resistance while rejecting the outcome of the ballot. Some speculate that a post-election crisis may erupt, but others think it is unlikely, given the laissez faire attitude of the majority French-speaking population which participated in the election. The English-speaking part, renamed Ambazonia, is up in arms. Biya declared a war against pro-independence campaigners on this side on 30 November 2017, turning what was a non-violent movement into an armed movement, with several groups claiming to have taken up arms in self-defense. Ambazonians, as we are called, reject the government of Mr. Biya and are focused on campaigning for the restoration of the independence of Ambazonia.

Why are you then writing to President Kagame? How is he going to help?

We believe that Rwanda, the Rwandan people and the President of Rwanda hold the key to our freedom. You have had a unique and painful experience with the genocide in 1994. President Kagame holds the rotating presidency of the African Union and he is the only African president we know who can stand up and has stood up before to the French government. The recolonization of Ambazonia by the Republic of Cameroon is micro-managed from Paris, in our opinion.

Clarify this, are there two Cameroons?

There are, indeed, two Cameroons. The first is the Republic of Cameroon which was a United Nations French Trusteeship Territory until 1st January 1960 when it obtained independence from France within internationally-recognized boundaries that did not include Ambazonia. Twenty months later, the Southern Cameroons, a self-governing part of the United Nations British Trusteeship Territory since 1954 gained independence effective the 1st of October 1961. In the lead-up to independence, the United Nations, Britain and France made an offer for Southern Cameroons to form what was, in fact, a confederation of two states, equal in status. These two states, known at independence in 1961 as East Cameroon (French) and West Cameroon (English) functioned more or less as independent states, each of them complete with their own prime minister, police force, judiciary, legislature, education system, etc, from 1961 to 1972. The constitution in Article 47 forbid the making of any law that would change the form of the state. In 1971, the then dictator of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, used a presidential decree to illegally fire the elected prime minister of West Cameroon, replacing him with a stooge in the role of prime minister. Six years earlier, he had collapsed all political parties into his one party and concentrated power in himself. Significantly, the people of Ambazonia voted against the referendum scrapping the union but were overwhelmed by the majority Francophone vote.

Was 1961 not merely the reunification of the Cameroons?

It was not. The German Cameroon – written as Kamerun under German colonization – was much bigger than the two Cameroons. The total surface area of the German empire in the heart of Africa included territories that are currently parts of Nigeria, all of Chad, all of the Central African Republic, all of Congo Republic, all of Southern Cameroons, all of the Republic of Cameroon, all of Gabon and all of Equatorial Guinea. Speaking of the reunification of that Kamerun would be advancing a major expansionist policy. By the way, if that is an argument that the world allows the Republic of Cameroon to make, it would be one that Nigeria could be entitled to make as well. Southern Cameroons aka Ambazonia was part of Nigeria for 44 years until 1953. The failure of the “union of states” between the Republic of Cameroon and Ambazonia would not be the first in history. The Gambia and Senegal went their separate ways when their union collapsed. Egypt and Syria went their separate ways when their union collapsed. So, too, did the member states of the former Union of Social Socialist Republic. So, too, did the member states of Yugoslavia.

Can you make that easier to understand?

Imagine that upon obtaining independence, Rwanda accepted to form a union of two states, equal in status with Burundi. Suppose that for 11 years, that union worked more or less well, with Rwanda and Burundi each running their own governance institutions. Now, imagine that after 11 years, the president of Burundi sent troops across the border into Rwanda and dismissed the elected prime minister of Rwanda, replacing him with a stooge of Bujumbura. Imagine further that Bujumbura dissolved all political parties in Rwanda, dissolved the parliament, disbanded the police, systematically appointed Burundians to lord it over Rwandans. Imagine further that the language of the police and armed forces in Rwanda was switched from Kinyarwanda to Kirundi. Imagine also that Kirundi was imposed in courts, in schools, and that the majority of doctors or judges that Rwandans had to go to were Kirundi speakers who were asking Rwandans to speak Kirundi. Now, imagine that Rwandans asked for a return to the agreement of the beginning and the response to that was for Burundi to declare war on Rwanda; and to call every Rwandan advocated such a position a terrorist. Imagine that they sent the army across the border; that they were systematically targeting and killing your people. This is what is happening to Ambazonians who have been forced to exercise their right to self defense.

What was the basis for this behaviour? Who was the architect of this move?

The main complication we face today is the deafening silence of the world, beginning with the silence of the African Union, the United Nations, the USA and more. We are pleading with them to speak up and recognize that this is an both an identify crisis and a territorial dispute between two peoples, two nations who are recognized by such under international law. It cannot find a lasting solution if it is handled as a domestic Cameroono-Cameroonian matter. This is made worse by lack of media coverage of the unfolding genocidal violence. Whence our deep gratitude for your interest. The basis for the annexation is the rich nature of Ambazonia, which currently accounts for about 50 percent of the GDP of the Cameroons. Ambazonia has huge oil and gas reserves that are yet to be exploited. Countries like Britain that could have been working to correct the mistake of decolonization which they made leading to this crisis seem more focused on securing oil and gas deals than resolving the crisis. A British firm signed a 1.5 billion pounds deal in June 2018 and London is more interested in exploiting that than listening to the solution our people seek. In other words, the annexation and military occupation of Ambazonia is driven by the same greed that drove Iraq into invading Kuwait anew on claims that Kuwait was always a part of its territory. That attempted annexation was met by war: Desert Storm. France is to blame in our case, with Cameroon merely acting as an overseas colonial province of France. The French led a major campaign on the floor of the United Nations in 1961 to deny us independence, but their campaign did not prosper. They voted against our independence along with Cameroon and 21 other countries. Sadly, for them, 64 countries in all voted in favor of our independence – which we won – with ten countries abstaining. One of the reason both the French and Cameroon were opposed to our independence in 1961 is because, in hindsight, today’s recolonization was already premeditated at that time.

How much is France involved as we speak? Who is their entry point?

Biya and Macro have expressed friendly ties

We believe that France is neck-deep into the crime against humanity that is the continued annexation of Ambazonia. Some of our people acted as collaborators with the colonizers. For instance, and as I just explained, one Member of Parliament agreed with the then ruler of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, to be appointed by decree the Prime Minister of West Cameroon as we were then called. That decree to unseat a prime minister who had been elected started the dictatorship on a territory, which was Africa’s first to know democratic elections in which the ruling party lost power to the opposition and handed over power in 1958.

Traitor? Was he alone? Why did he surrender his people?

France is still very deeply involved. They are pulling the strings in the background because they are the benefactors of the bulk of the oil and gas concessions. As you may recall, France was the leading financier of the Biafra War and did not stop providing arms to Biafra using Cameroon as the conduit state until General Gowon granted them the oil concessions in Biafra. The French, as you may know, refused to grant independence to its overseas territories. General de Gaulle forced African countries to accept what he called the French Community of Africa (CFA) complete with a currency, still minted in France, with obligations for African countries to keep their reserves in the French territory. A scandalous agreement signed with France on 26 December 1959 imposed on all former French territories to pay a colonial tax. It is still being paid to this day. The “Accords de Cooperation” as they were called oblige African countries formerly French ruled to grant France the right of first refusal for all their wealth. They impose on these countries the obligation to allow France to formulate their education system – to ensure it remains colonial, of course. Under those accords, former French territories, even as independent countries today, have to deposit 50 percent of their foreign reserves in the French treasury. Fifty percent! That quota used to be 100 percent before being lowered to 65 percent of the reserves and today to 50 percent. Former French colonies still have a currency minted in France and devalued at any time the French believe they should slash whatever debt they owe African countries. The name of the currency says all about the mentality. It is called the CFA franc or the Franc of the French African Colonies.

How do you get these details? Where is the evidence about the traitor and the French? This is a serious accusation! Right?

The traitor recognized his betrayal of Ambazonia before his passing into glory and he apologized publicly to Ambazonians at a major conference – the All Anglophone Conference of April 1993. He later made it a duty of his to travel back to the United Nations, along with other Ambazonian leaders, to demand that the world body reverse the harm he and the dictator had committed. The traitor might have been alone, but once he acted, he broke the spirit of resistance. It didn’t help that once it happened, the dictator then killed the former prime minister, deployed gendarmes across our territory, disbanded our police force and used blind repression to obtain submission. He also scrapped multiparty politics, forming a one party, which he used to ensure his coronation and his supreme reign. He only resigned from power after 25 years and only because he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. On the French, you just need to type up the words “Accords de cooperation franchise” on the Internet and you will be shocked by what you will discover. Otherwise, I can find a copy and share with you. The French have acted with more dishonesty and evil intent than we can discuss in several interviews, and I have never been happier for the people of Rwanda than to know that they decried their hypocrisy in Rwanda. I mean the French government and the French system, of course, not the French people who are absolutely charming. Guinea under Sekou Toure was lucky to escape. Look around Africa and you will notice that the majority of countries lagging in development and in good governance are former French colonies. Check out who is the world’s leading exporter of tropical wood – TROPICAL wood – and you will find out that it is France. France can only be the leader in a category like this from looting countries like yours and ours.

Have you engaged the French? Or their associates?

Yes, we have engaged the French. We have staged more rallies outside French embassies around the world than anywhere else. The French government has been lukewarm to non-engaging. President Macron has maintained criminal silence over what is happening in Ambazonia. We know that at the UN Security Council they are working feverishly to prevent a breakaway from happening or recognition of Ambazonia from happening. Our case is easy to resolve if it is endorsed by a Member State of the United Nations or of the African Union. We would like Rwanda, for example, to bring the matter before the United Nations General Assembly, not the United Nations Security Council. As you know, the Security Council is where the rights of poor people and poor nations go to die at the altar of the oversized power of veto-wielding powers like France. The General Assembly does not have veto. Which is why we want the matter brought there by a member country. The decision granting us independence was adopted and approved by the General Assembly. To date, we are the only country in the world that won independence through an independence plebiscite held on 11 February 1961 and through a United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1608(XV) of 21st April 1961 to be denied the right to enjoy our independence.

Have you considered forceful means?

Ambazonian troops

France’s associates and those Paris has “weaponized” to hold us in colonial bondage are the African stooges who serve as Governors (but are mistakenly called presidents) in former French colonies across Africa. They cannot turn against France because they will be ousted from power the same day they dare to. They must be intimidated by what happened to Sekou Toure, Thomas Sankara, Mariam Ngwabi, Gilles Olympio, Laurent Ggbabo, Gaddafi, etc.

Are you organized? If yes, is your cause well articulated and shared by the ordinary people? Can you candidly say you have the support of the masses or you need to mobilise them? What is the main ingredient of your cause?

We are very well organized although poorly funded. We have the overwhelming support of the masses. They have been staging civil disobedience campaigns marked by general strikes or “ghost town” operations held at least once every week – on Mondays, when nothing moves in our territory. When Cameroon organized presidential elections on Sunday, 7 October 2018, our people opposed and prevented any campaigns or elections from holding in our territory. Not a single one of the nine presidential candidates dared to campaign in our territory. Not even the Mr. Biya. That says how solidly behind us our people are. French media covering the elections within our territory reported that turnout and participation in the vote in our territory was 5 percent. Our people heeded our call to boycott the ballot. Officials of the electoral commission speaking to French media said participation on our territory was 0.5 percent but the French media inflated the number ten times. In the interview, you can hear the official give the number in English and the French reporter give 5 percent instead. On 30 November 2017, the president of Cameroon officially declared war against our people in an announcement broadcast on state radio and television. He called our people “terrorists” and “secessionists” for daring to request that they recognize that we are our own country. For several weeks after that, government forces massacred our people. Administrative and military officials called on our people to vacate villages or be considered “terrorists” and treated, in their words, worse than Boko Haram terrorists. They started razing entire villages from that moment. To date, they have burnt down to the ground over 140 villages in a scorched earth policy that violates the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of War. Over 6,000 people according to our estimates have been killed directly or indirectly by this war. Over one million are internally displaced. The UN says they are 300,000. We believe that over 100,000 have been driven into exile and refugee camps in neighboring Nigeria. The UN in Nigeria puts those figures at over 40,000. After remaining non-violent for many decades, some previously peaceful movements have formed armed wings, which have taken up arms in self-defense, they say. After a first few groups were formed, this was followed by a proliferation of groups. It is our belief now that no fewer than 20 armed groups operate in the territory, most of them rag tag rebel movements with little more than hunting guns, knives, bows and arrows and machetes. Despite the absence of sophisticated weapons, we fear that machetes can do as much harm as they did in your country during the 100-day period during which over one million people were slaughtered in the 1994 Genocide. We fear that we are next in line. In the coming weeks, we will be calling on our people to go out and vote an interim congress with powers to form a transition authority and a team of experts charged with negotiating peaceful separation. The vote will be both online for our people in the Diaspora and by ballot on our territory with our people defying their forces to organize this ballot. The other goals of the vote will be to authorize any world power willing to help prevent the unfolding genocidal violence to evoke the principle of Responsibility to Protect adopted by the UN after the Genocide in Rwanda to intervene in Ambazonia.

Do you have a strategic plan for resource mobilisation? How would be the apparatus look like?

We have been raising money on a haphazard way as our people grew in numbers in support of this. Mostly the Diaspora has led the way in resource mobilization. We are an estimated 16,000 in the three states surrounding the District of Columbia here in Washington alone. One of our groups mobilized more than $700,000 but still peanuts compared to the task at hand. Part of the reason resource mobilization has been small is because it has not gone beyond our people and our people have waited for us to vote into office a legitimate authority so they can donate once to the appropriate authority and not disperse energies, resources and get into donor fatigue too early. I will attach a document – an appeal which our sister has been delivering while visiting Rwanda and that we have tried to share with many countries, notably the 64 countries, which voted in favor of our independence.

Are you organised in groups? Are they political or social? What role has ARCC played? How big is it compared to others? What the arrangement between all of you?

ARCC re-groups six of the biggest political movements. Their leaders are at the end of the petition I have attached. ARCC is the biggest coalition but we will all be merging our forces into the interim congress we will be electing in the coming days. We are timing our vote to coincide with and defy the swearing in of the next president of Cameroon. There is a group that has proclaimed itself the interim government. We and other movements have refused to recognize them because they are not an emanation of the ballot. We have successfully convinced them to join in the vote for the interim congress, which will elect an executive team. So we expect our groups to be all together soon or working more closely together at least. There are a total of nine liberation movements. Six of them are members of ARCC and three of them are members of the interim government group.

What do you think is the most difficult challenge, obstacle or risk you face?

If you mean those of us leaders, I would say we are all a few hours away from being arrested, deported, jailed or assassinated. We all run the risk that France will table a resolution before the UN Security Council to name our movements as terrorists and us terrorists. We accept that danger of jail, possible death and definitely being put in the same category as Mandela when, as a freedom fighter, he was named a terrorist.

Who are your allies?

Our biggest supporters are the people of the world who cherish freedom and independence. It is an unfriendly world for people seeking self-determination. Our best allies so far are the courts of law. We won a landmark case against Cameroon at the African Union Court in Banjul, The Gambia, which recognized us as a people, separate from the people of French Cameroon, with a right to self-determination. Those are approximately the wordings of the ruling. A real and powerful one. Like all other people, we have no permanent enemies. As for our people, the biggest danger would be complacency or suffering so much repression that they chose living on in the house of slavery instead of fighting for total freedom. The odds are stacked against us. Yet, we will much rather die than give in to colonial rule or colonial domination under French Cameroon. Again, we are just one country away from the entire dispensation changing. If, tomorrow morning, Rwanda recognizes Ambazonia, it will begin the process of ending this annexation. So, we are working hard to find just one country. That is why partnership with journalists and media outlets is so important because our story is not known, talk less of our plight. We are the victims of what the African proverb says: so long as the hunter is the only historian, there are no stories celebrating the bravery and skillful escape of any deer not killed by the hunter. We have been called roaches, rats, dogs, enemies in the house and – not to own the name – but to appreciate its meaning, as roaches, we do not expect to be found innocent in a gathering of hens. Yet we must fight on. To that extent, I am delighted to meet you, to have this chat and to offer my support in reporting this story and others that you may want from the USA and that I can cover. We can work out details later, but that would be my fist offer.

Which countries or individuals do you count on? This maybe even off the record….

I do not mind going on the record. We are currently seeking the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice to recognize that Cameroon violated Article 4(b) of the African Union Constitutive Act which obliges all countries to respect their borders at independence and inherited from colonization. We currently count on the United States of America. The Congress of the USA has adopted two resolutions over the past two weeks only. The first by the House of Representatives calls for negotiations possibly under the direction of an international mediator. The second from the US Senate calls for negotiations as well and slams the government t of Cameroon for the violence and massacres. The German Parliament (Bundestag) adopted a resolution last week calling for a negotiated settlement. The British House of Commons has done he same. So, too, the Commonwealth, the African Union, the United Nations even the French foreign ministry. The United Nations Advisor on Genocide Prevention as well as the Lead Counsel at the International Criminal Court have said what is unfolding in Ambazonia is genocide for the ICC Lead Counsel and “very concerning” for the genocide prevention expert. The former US Under-Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman Cohen, who negotiated independence for Eritrea from Ethiopia stands with us, offering his support and speaking out against what is going on in Ambazonia, including telling reporters that Cameroon will never be able to win the war against our people. In his case, though, he stops short of calling for the emergence of a new country. He is calling publicly for now for a return to the status of a federation of two states, equal in status. If this is what we get, equal in status will be interpreted by us to mean the same thing as independence because if we are two and equal, then it should follow that if they have an army, we should have one; if they have a government, we should have one; if they have a parliament, so too us. If they have embassies abroad, so too must we. If they have a currency, then so, too, it should be for us.

If you were to succeed, what would be the major points of you manifesto!

Ambazonia will be a parliamentary democracy, governed as a federation of at least 13 states and many counties. If my view were the only thing that would decide this, I would be campaigning for us to become a blend of the USA, UK, Ghana, South Africa, Germany and Rwanda modeled of governance. From the UK and Ghana, we will borrow the parliamentary democracy. No government position unless you win elections somewhere, have the appropriate competences and are cleared by parliament. From the USA, we will borrow the strong organization of states and counties. From South Africa, we will borrow the premiership system to enhance empowerment of minority communities. From Rwanda we will borrow the use and integration of traditional justice system and a reconciliation process that is cemented on economic growth and rebuilding from the ashes of a horrible genocide. From Germany, we will borrow the ceremonial presidency as an instrument of conflict resolution and mediation.

Infrastructure-wise, how is the status? Roads, hospitals, schools, Internet, water?

The only gift colonization has given us is to condemn our people to live in the 21st century under 16th century infrastructure. No roads. Hospitals are a cure worse than the disease in the sense that hospitals help our people to die faster. What with doctors who speak French to patients who speak and understand only English! Before you know it the disease being treated is the one the doctor thought he heard but which the patient never mentioned. We would be dependent on another country for electricity for instance, given that as part of destroying our government, they destroyed our companies including the electricity company. Schools are a mess but we believe we can rapidly remedy that, including through home schooling, accelerated and catch-up programs made necessary – even inevitable – by the fact that we have imposed a school boycott that is now entering its third year. The water our people drink cannot be called safe. And the Internet is curtailed for fear it would facilitate political activism and mobilization. Some optic fiber has been laid but not to nearly the extent needed to build an economy boasted by electronic transactions. For example, if us not available in schools. Teaching children today without Internet connection is like insisting to go on horseback in the age of the automobile. Much worse is an education today that is not tied to jobs and productive sectors of the economy. You get it from a system training more students in the English and French languages than as engineers and agronomists for example.

Do you think it’s a good idea to condemn French and front English? If the French and people affiliated with French or France feel you are hostile to the language, would that not be detrimental to you effort to secure independence?

We condemn the French system imposed as part of colonization and bragged about in France including by a number of French leaders as the “civilizing mission of colonization”. There is no such thing as civilization based on debasing other human beings. France prides itself as the birthplace of Human Rights and it is remarkable what ordinary French people battling tyranny won by storming the Bastille. If they are proud of their achievements as we think they ought to be they should be the first to applaud anyone who copies their example. What we condemn in the French and in the past history of the French (including colonization) we equally condemn if the British. It is the British who delivered us into the hands of the French. It is the British who can support a referendum for Scottish independence but thinks Ambazonia is condemned against the wishes of its people to live free. Language is not the problem here. If our conflict was linguistic, we would be in shattered bits because the Cameroons count over 250 languages. These languages get along without notice. And the reason they do but for two is that none of the heritages of each of these groups is threatened by the other. In the case of the Anglo-Saxon heritage that Ambazonia has and wants to preserve, we are outraged by efforts from French Cameroun condoned by France to destroy that.

How does ECOWAS and AU treat you?

Cameroon is not a member of ECOWAS. Ambazonia intends to become a member of ECOWAS and exit from the Central African Region (CEMAC). That means we will need to adopt a currency of our own – the Rwandan Franc, the Nigerian Naira, the German Mark, the South African Rand or the US dollar are all possible options. So, too, the Canadian dollar. We would go with any of these options, I think, until we can mint our own currency. The African Union had been awfully silent. We rest a lot of holes on President Kagame changing that silence and speaking up in defense of our people’s right to dignity, freedom and independence. Especially given the kind of genocidal violence our people need to escape from and that Rwanda could save us from by evoking their own painful experience.

Who in person have you spoken to in Rwanda?

To nobody, in person, so far except personal friends and officials whom we have reached only by sending letters. We would not hesitate to field a big ARCC delegation if we have firm appointments for audiences with Rwandan officials. I also closely follow, and retweet to my over 40,000 followers on Twitter some of the topics of significance to all Africans discussed by President Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda and by members of government of Rwanda. I have tweeted a huge amount of stuff on Ambazonia to President Kagame since he took over the rotating presidency of the African Union. You can find me on Twitter @BohHerbert. Friendly relations with every nation, including with Cameroon and France with special privileges extended to citizens of these countries. An undertaking to make no changes to existing economic agreements unless they are shown to be cheating Ambazonia.

In West Africa, who is on your side?

We can probably count on The Gambia and to a very small extent on Benin, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Nigeria is sympathetic but not on board. They fear Cameroon making war by proxy by way of instigating something with Biafra. Courts based in both Nigeria and The Gambia have been favorable. Please, forgive me for not volunteering anymore information publicly as this would be detrimental for our goals.

How about the West? Any friends?

Let me begin by saying the same thing I just said. I cannot, unfortunately, discuss the full details publicly. In the name of those Ambazonians who, sadly, have already made the ultimate sacrifice; in the name of those who have paid with lost limbs for our freedom from recolonization; in the name of those holed up in jails and dungeons; in the name of those who now live in the wild of nearby bushes, forests and refugee camps. May I move anew that all those of us still walking free; that all those not yet arrested and thrown in jails; that all those of us truly working for this revolution owe a sacred duty to answer objectively to some very pertinent questions by taking the most appropriate action to advance our cause.

Consider the following: one, beyond the crowds we have drawn at demonstrations; beyond the staging of successful ghost towns campaigns and/or a boycott of the last presidential ballot; beyond a word-of-mouth claim that we can make and have made loudly that a majority of our people support restoration of independence, what concretely can we provide to the world (our American, British, French, and Canadian friends… to the African Union and the United Nations that independence is, indeed, the wish/will of our people?

Secondly, while some of us continue so stubbornly to be opposed to doing what we must do to collect and provide irrefutable proof of the overwhelming support we know our people have for restoration, how may I ask do we think the Americans, British, the United Nations should believe us (restorationists) not the others; like Biya and his “one, and indivisible” crowd or Agbor Nkongho, Cardinal Tumi, Ni John Fru Ndi and their crowd campaigning for federalism? Do we truly believe that the United Nations or the African Union will merely hold its finger up in the air and feel the direction of the political wind blowing in Ambazonia? If you were in their place and/or in the place of COA, FBI, State Department staff on this dossier would you just dismiss Biya, Fru Ndi and Co. in favor of restorationists? Being right is nothing if we the other thing we are is careless about proving our case. You don’t prove that you are a couple in divorce court with wedding pictures. You bring a marriage certificate. You don’t prove you passed GCE A-Levels by the grammar you speak. You produce the certificate. We don’t only claim that a majority of our people are with us. We produce proof to back up our claim. This is what we must do ourselves and for our cause. This is something we could have done since last year. Nobody walks into court to prove a case by bringing along claims or allegations. You gather your evidence and bring to prove your case. Ambazonians, we owe it to ourselves to prove by way of an election that we accurately reflect the aspirations of our people of whom we are the most credible and legitimate spokespersons.

Author: Magnus MAZIMPAKA

Source: taarifa.rw

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World democracies, global organizations and the world’s biggest media outlets have either maintained criminal silence or opted for a shockingly high level of hypocrisy on the 36-year-old tyranny of Paul Biya, 85, in the Cameroons.

For instance, whereas the West has chased leaders of Biya’s ilk from power under similar conditions in Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, The Gambia and Zimbabwe, excuses are made to roll out the carpet for Biya.

On November 6, the 36th anniversary of Biya’s first inauguration as president in November 1982, the ruthless dictator was sworn in for yet another seven-year term. Biya’s longevity in power would have been impossible without the West, notably France, looking the other way.

Often seen, on account of its unpopularity, as being on political life support, Biya’s regime has survived on the back of brutish repression, state terrorism, constitutional coups, massive vote rigging and election hold-ups.

Biya is the civilian façade of a clan-based de facto military regime. It thrives on divide-and-rule and fuelling the many fractious factions of the opposition.

It is a regime that pays lip service to majority rule but survives on minority rule through its rejection of election run-offs.

It dismisses remedies that could be offered by vote recounts.

It professes faith in the infallibility of decisions handed down by Biya’s hand-picked Constitutional Council, the supreme authority on the bankrupt electoral system that the regime counts on to cling on to power.

But, if you arrived on earth today from Mars, you would be forgiven for concluding – based on global media coverage of the Cameroons recently- that the most important challenge facing this two-in-one failing or failed nation founded in 1961 is the kidnapping of 81 students and their teachers. It is not.

Yet, it is the only story that every single one of the world’s leading wire services (AP, Reuters, AFP, etc.) and broadcast outlets (CNN, BBC, VOA, RFI, DW, etc.) have bothered to cover extensively.

They have done so despite the shallow nature of the facts and holes in the story.

When the dust settles, world media may be able to admit that the Biya regime played political Drama Queen on this incident, leading the world and world media by the nose.

In a hurry to have the scoop on a story that they sensed has global appeal and front-page staying power, reporters created a storm in a teacup.

Their reporting embarrassed audiences around the globe with poorly sourced, hardly fact-checked, wildly distorted, misleading and inaccurate accounts of the kidnappings.

Western capitals took the bait, expressing concern and calling for the immediate release and safe return of the kidnapped students.

None expressed concern over why an officer of Cameroon’s army was unmasked in photos as the lead kidnapper.

Acting urgently, as Western capitals did is understandable.

There is, indeed, no higher priority than to seek resolution of a crisis.

However, on these kidnappings and even before all the details are known, one thing is clear.

The kidnapping of the 81 students and teachers looks increasingly like a sadistic prank by the Biya regime.

It was aimed, ostensibly, at reenacting the April 2014 kidnapping by Boko Haram Islamic extremists of 276 Chibok Girls in Nigeria’s Borno State.

It is the kind of fabrication the regime has been desperate to find to mobilize world support for listing the pro-independence campaign as a terrorist movement.

It is the kind of crisis every tyrant prays for when they need to divert world attention from real challenges.

Like a deer in the headlights, Western powers and Western media houses are caught in the regime’s self-incriminating web of lies, endless political spin, and pure propaganda. How else?

If Western democracies were not just going along with the regime’s poorly masked campaign of demonization of pro-independence campaigners in Ambazonia, one would have expected them to show the same level of concern for other vulnerable citizens.

For example, hundreds of thousands of Ambazonian children – most of them far younger and more vulnerable than the students kidnapped – now live in the wild (in bushes, farmlands and forests).

It is the only choice they have if they want to survive the brutish French-speaking troops whose occupation of Ambazonia has led, among others, to the looting and burning to the ground of over 140 villages.

As a result of scorched earth practices in blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions, more than 100,000 people have fled into exile or refugee camps mostly in neighboring Nigeria

Victims of these horrendous abuses cannot be blamed for doubting that the West truly believes in the sanctity of life – for all.

The congratulatory messages to Biya after he staged another election theft in broad daylight has many doubting the commitment of the West for democracy, human rights and the rule of law for citizens of the Cameroons.

Especially because both London and Washington, DC, congratulated the “election thief” way ahead of countries like North Korea and China.

France’s ownership of the natural resources of the Cameroons in keeping with a pre-independence accord signed on 26 December 1959 and Britain’s preoccupation with sealing oil and gas deals suggest that the West cares more for pay-to-play deals than for the welfare of Ambazonians.

The hypocrisy is blatant.

France’s foreign minister played Pontus Pilatus when reporters asked whether or not Cameroon’s most recent presidential elections were free and fair.

Paris hid behind the very convenient, but utterly false, claim that France respects Cameroon’s so-called sovereignty.

Speaking of which – where else did the West evoke national sovereignty in a crisis they were interested in preventing or ending?

Under the “Responsibility to Protect” principle adopted by the United Nations in 2005, the West can – if it truly cares – intervene unilaterally in Ambazonia to put an end to an unjustified war against the English-speaking people of Ambazonia who, overwhelmingly, favor peaceful separation from recolonization by Cameroon.

While the world has looked away, thousands of pro-independence campaigners have been massacred, injured or “disappeared” in one of the world’s most under-reported war and humanitarian crisis.

The number of the internally displaced is probably north of a million people.

It is genocide – a crime of intention.

French-speaking troops are targeting and slaughtering English-speaking citizens simply for insisting to be who they like to be: Ambazonians.

No students – or anyone else for that matter – should suffer kidnappings.

The prank this week would have been avoided had Western democracies not shown the kind of indifference, criminal silence and outright failure that has been promoted as policy at global organizations like the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Their job, at all times, should have been to call out regimes like Biya’s. Sadly, the leaders of the United Nations and the Commonwealth have bothered more about being on good terms with a tyrant who lavishes them with gifts of gold than uphold resolutions adopted by and still pending full implementation by the institutions they lead – if such could be called leadership.

As with the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and the massacres in Bosnia in 1995, there is no excuse for Western democracies doing nothing to end the carnage in Ambazonia.

Especially because the Biya regime has telephoned their every move and has lived up to every one of those sadistic pledges.

For example, from the very beginning of the war against Ambazonia, the regime committed officially that its troops will target civilians indiscriminately – in other words, that their troops will commit war crimes.

The only adjustment that has been made to that policy has been the regime calling on its troops to stop documenting their atrocity crimes and crimes against humanity on video, posted on social media.

Biya’s minister of territorial administration promised, from the onset of the war, that their troops will treat – sorry, mistreat – Ambazonians worse than Boko Haram terrorists.

The regime has delivered on that promise.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the war against Ambazonia has been more deadly than the counter-terrorism campaign Cameroon is waging against Boko Haram in the northern regions of that country.

Facts don’t lie. Western democracies, global organizations and the Western media are proving, shamefully, that they held former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe to a different standard than they are willing to hold the Biya regime.

America readily approved support for rebels who formed a never-before-known state in Benghazi in defiance of the central authority of ex-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, but Washington is unwilling even to uphold America’s YES vote – along with 63 other countries on the floor of the United Nations on 21st April 1961 – in favor of independence for Ambazonia (then known as Southern Cameroons).

The West evoked Responsibility to Protect as soon as the Gaddafi regime promised “rivers of blood”.

Yet, the same Western democracies are sitting on their hands even as the Biya regime not only promises but is actually spilling “oceans of blood” in Ambazonia.

The same United Nations which deployed Peacekeepers to arrest further descent into violence in a far less bloody civil war in Cote d’Ivoire has mouthed platitudes tantamount to giving Biya a pass even as his regime has prevented the deployment of human rights and humanitarian missions.

The same France, which, with support from America’s former president, Barack Obama, did not hesitate to lead a military invasion.

They dragged out of the presidential palace the former leader of Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, and installed the person the West believed was the rightful winner of the ballot in that country.

Now, they are burying their heads in the sands of so-called sovereignty of Cameroon.

Talk of hypocrisy!

Author: Boh Herbert Ntumfoyn Ntumfoyn

Source: taarifa.rw

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Paul Biya, one of the world’s longest-serving rulers, takes sustained Swiss vacations as his country grapples with crises

GENEVA—Blinds were drawn at a back office of the Intercontinental Hotel one day last year, as a man known to staff as The General emptied a white cloth bag stuffed with euros. It was time to pay for one of the world’s longest-serving leaders.

For weeks, several former hotel employees recalled, the five-star hotel had been locked in a secret routine serving its best two customers, the first couple of an impoverished oil-exporting Central African country. Paul Biya, president of Cameroon since 1982, and his wife, Chantal, clock so much time on private visits to Switzerland that staff in the Intercontinental’s gilded corridors refer to them by simple code names: Him and Her.

“It’s like they are at home. They live there,” said one of three former senior employees who regularly witnessed the bill-payment ritual.

As with other employees, this person recalled signing a nondisclosure agreement concerning the details of Mr. Biya’s monthlong stays: “If the Cameroonians are not coming, the hotel will close.”

The Intercontinental Hotel said it wouldn’t comment on guests for confidentiality reasons. “Our employees are fully trained not to disclose any information,” a representative said.

The Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva.
The Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva. PHOTO: FABRICE COFFRINI/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

World leaders dropping top dollar at luxury hotels isn’t by itself unusual. What distinguishes Mr. Biya’s Geneva getaways is the abundant time and hard cash the 85-year-old and his dozens-strong entourage spend here. The president has passed a cumulative four years on personal travels since 1982, the vast majority in Switzerland, according to flight data collected by the website Geneva Dictator Alert, and Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an investigative group specializing in anticorruption and organized crime that has tracked his travels. In some years he spent a third of the year out of his home country.

“He always pays in cash,” said Herbert Schott, a retired Intercontinental manager who first hosted Mr. Biya in 1969. “Next year he will mark 50 consecutive years of patronage. It’s a record.”

Mr. Schott welcomed a quarter-century’s worth of American presidents and once gave Ronald Reagan a mattress to replace the White House bedroom’s harsher one. But he said Mr. Biya was his best client. “He prefers to come to Geneva and sit down and nobody would bother him.”

“Lion Man,” as Mr. Biya’s supporters call him, is currently the world’s longest serving elected leader, if counting from his June 1975 arrival as prime minister, the same week McDonald’s Corp. introduced its drive-through. Since 1982, he has served as president. He is Africa’s highest-paid leader, with a $610,000 official salary annually, according to Africa Review, a periodical.

In Mr. Biya’s fourth decade in power, armed separatists are battling soldiers in Cameroon’s southwest, while Islamist terror group Boko Haram seizes villages and kidnaps children en masse in the northeast. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in the past two years. Cameroonian migrants now represent the fourth largest nationality sailing into Greece.

Last month, Mr. Biya won another seven years in office, taking 71% of the vote in an election in which riot police dispersed protesters. In some areas, less than 5% of the population voted. No Western government sent observers.

“We love him, we voted for him and there is nothing new in his habits,” said Cameroon’s Communications Minister Issa Bakary Tchiroma in response to questions about Mr. Biya’s Geneva hotel stays. “We ask everyone, all foreigners, to respect the will of our sovereign people.”

Mr. Biya has rarely given interviews to foreign media in recent years.

In Geneva, the president reserves the entire Intercontinental’s 16th floor, with some 20 rooms and two corner suites overlooking the United Nations’ Europe headquarters and Mont Blanc, said ex-employees, former Cameroon officials, and hotel reservation records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The staff haul armfuls of white flowers for his wife and fresh fruit platters—never cut, per presidential orders—for Mr. Biya, according to former hotel staff.

Mr. Biya’s trips cost millions of dollars apiece, said Christian Penda Ekoka, a longtime chief adviser to the president, turned opposition activist.

Mr. Biya and his wife arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in 2014 for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
Mr. Biya and his wife arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in 2014 for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. PHOTO:CLIFF OWEN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“He gets the money from Cameroon’s treasury” and pays in cash to keep the trips off books, said Mr. Ekoka, who used to be chief adviser to Mr. Biya and had access to trip details. “They want to avoid any trace.”

The Biyas in Switzerland in 2010.
The Biyas in Switzerland in 2010. PHOTO: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

A hotel reservation receipt seen by the Journal shows the size of the president’s entourage. In one September 2017 stay, he booked at least 48 rooms. Other Cameroonians stayed in less expensive hotels, former employees said, depending on their standing with the president.

To the U.S. and Europe, Mr. Biya is a valuable if awkward ally against terrorism and migration. The U.S. keeps 200 troops and several predator drones at a base in north Cameroon. American and Israeli special forces train Mr. Biya’s troops.

The European Union has pledged 282 million euros in aid for Cameroon. The hope is the country will grow wealthier, creating jobs to lure Cameroonians back to Cameroon.

The first protests, violently repressed by the Cameroonian armed forces, broke out two years ago. Mr. Biya was at the Intercontinental. He stayed another three weeks after, according to publicly available flight data and Cameroonian state press.

In Geneva, Mr. Biya seldom leaves his corner suite, former hotel staff said. For privacy, the Cameroonian delegation installs its own internet connection and phone switchboard. He enters and exits through the service exit for daily jogs, according to former hotel employees.

Mr. Biya’s suite overlooks tranquil Lake Geneva and a boulevard with placards extolling the virtues of human rights, democracy, rule of law: Geneva is a global capital for humanitarian and pro-democracy institutions.

Then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan with Mr. Biya in Geneva, 2004.
Then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan with Mr. Biya in Geneva, 2004. PHOTO: PHILIPPE MERLE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

“I find there, each time, an excellent welcome,” wrote Mr. Biya in a 1998 letter to Intercontinental management.

His wife—38 years younger than him—is at times seen in the lobby, robed in fluorescent dresses, standing more than 6 feet tall thanks to a voluminous bouffant hairstyle nicknamed “The Banana.” A Cameroonian journalist recently called her “The Belle of the Banana Republic,” and was sentenced to two years imprisonment for insulting her.

Her aides and hairdressers tip doormen hundreds of euros to run errands. “Cameroon is like a cash machine for the hotel,” said one former employee.

“Everything we can sell them, we do,” said another.

Chantal Biya greets her husband’s supporters in Cameroon in September.
Chantal Biya greets her husband’s supporters in Cameroon in September. PHOTO: ALEXIS HUGUET/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Visits begin unannounced, said current and former hotel employees, when an advanced team arrives laden with oversize luggage. Hotel management ejects guests from the 16th floor and moves them to other rooms.

Next comes a kitchen team—the president’s personal chefs from Cameroon—hauling jugs of palm oil and equatorial spices. Housekeepers taking days off are called in.

An enforcer nicknamed The General roams the hallways on the president’s behalf, chastising hotel staff, former hotel employees said.

Last comes an uninvited member of the presidential ensemble, a factory worker from Birmingham, England, who makes YouTube videos of himself shouting at Mr. Biya from outside the hotel.

“Two months again? In Geneva? At the Intercontinental Hotel?” screamed Emmanuel Kemta, a Cameroonian-born dissident in one of his more popular videos. “What are you doing here all this time, Biya?”

Two days before last month’s election, Mr. Biya made his only campaign speech. “What we have to do now is ensure peace reigns,” he said in brief remarks.

Back at the Geneva Intercontinental, staff were watching the elections closely. “They were so afraid he wouldn’t get re-elected,” said one former employee. “They would have a heart attack.”

Author: wsj.com

Source: By Drew Hinshaw and  Joe Parkinson

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An American missionary was shot dead on Tuesday in Cameroon during clashes between the separatists and government soldiers. Charles Wesco, 44, was traveling with his wife, son and a driver when they came under fire.

More than 400 civilians have already died in the conflict between the country’s French-speaking majority and its English-speaking minority. But perhaps the tragic death of a Westerner — one who had devoted his life to helping Cameroon — will now prompt the United States and Europe to stop looking away.

President Paul Biya, in power for 36 years, is set to be sworn in next week for another seven-year term after claiming victory Oct. 7 in elections marred by allegations of fraud. Despite ample evidence of vote tampering and insecurity on election day, Washington was quick to congratulate the people of Cameroon on what it called a “largely peaceful elections.”

Cameroonians, who have long been yearning for peace, can hardly be blamed for regarding that statement as a mockery. Most of them, not only the English-speakers who are fighting desperately for independence, had hoped that Biya would leave the palace. Those hopes are now dashed.

I spent voting day in Buea, the capital of the southwest Anglophone region. I didn’t see a single person voting after midday — apart from the governor, who showed with a bodyguard of heavily armed soldiers. Most of the locals stayed indoors for their safety. In this region, where people have taken up hunting guns to fight his regime, Biya shamelessly claimed he won the majority of votes. Villages around Buea are entirely deserted — people are living in the forests, from fear of the president’s soldiers. Some 500,000have been displaced by the fighting. I could hear gunfire before, during and after the election. More than a dozen people died in the Anglophone areas in the course of 24 hours. How could Washington give this farce a clean bill of health?

After the voting had closed, African Union observers said the ballot went well — despite the fact they couldn’t send any of their team to the far North, where the Boko Haram insurgency is wreaking havoc, or in the English-speaking regions, where the secessionists are fighting the regime. The AU verdict was not entirely surprising, because it routinely approves flawed elections; the U.S. statement in support of Biya was, however, a disaster.

If Biya, as expected, remains in office for the coming seven years, it is highly likely that the country will slide into a terrible civil war — one of which the world will take notice only when nobody is left to save. The worsening crisis is largely the result of the Biya regime’s refusal to address the grievances of the country’s English-speaking minority, who have long suffered from systematic discrimination. In silencing them, soldiers have killed about 4,000 Anglophone civilians, according to the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, a nongovernmental organization based in Buea.

Decaying bodies lie scattered on the streets of the capital. Sources tell me that hospital mortuaries in the city of Bamenda in the northwest are full, no place left for fresh bodies. The sights triggered memories of my own experience of Rwanda’s genocide against the Tutsis in 1994. The comparison is more apt than it might seem at first sight. France, Biya’s leading supporter in the West, is repeating the same mistakes it committed in Rwanda.

The killing of Anglophone Cameroonians is not only the problem that confronts the country. Corruption is also ubiquitous. Though I had valid documents to travel and work in Cameroon, I had to pay money to be allowed to pass through every police and military checkpoint. Even at the international airport in Douala, staffers there extort money from passengers. This is not fiction. It’s my personal experience.

Bribes are common in many African countries, but Cameroon has reached another level. The anti-corruption organization Transparency International ranks Cameroon among the most corrupt nations in the world, having it tied for the 153rd spot out of 180 countries.

Biya remains unconcerned. He has spent at least four and a half years in total on private trips in the 36 years he has been president, according to research conducted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. He has made himself at home in Geneva’s five-star Intercontinental Hotel, spending an estimated $65 million on stays there since he came to power. Back home, most Cameroonians are struggling to make ends meet, and war-displaced women and children have no place to sleep. Meanwhile, critics are killed or locked away in maximum-security prisons; many others have gone in exile.

It’s high time for the West to reconsider its relationship with Biya — or at least to hold him accountable for the atrocities committed under his rule. Cameroonians, both English and French speakers, should stand up for their country and remove the leaders who are tearing them apart. Thirty-six years of pain is too much to endure. And they have nothing left to lose.

Author: By Fred Muvunyi

Source: washingtonpost.com

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An American missionary who arrived Cameroon on the 18th of October 2018 with his wife and 8 children has been killed by forces loyal to the Biya Francophone regime. Charles Trumann Wesco was shot in Bambui some few kilometers from Bamenda the chief city in the Northern zone.

Cameroon Concord News sources revealed that the late Charles Truman did receive emergency treatment at Bambui and was referred to the Bamenda Regional Hospital but died from injuries sustained from gunshots aimed at him.

A District Medical Officer reportedly called for an ambulance from Bamenda this morning to transport a female student shot in the stomach by Cameroon government forces in Bambui but the rescue team were refused passage around Mile 6 Nkwen by Biya regime soldiers.

Our senior correspondent in Bamenda said there were civilian casualties in Bambili that could not be reached by the emergency team. We understand intense fighting is going on in Bambui and Bambili involving Ambazonian Restoration forces and Cameroon government troops.

An American Missionary by name Charles Trumann Wesco shot dead in Bambui, Northen zone of Ambazonia by French Cameroun military.
A press release from the Interim Government of Ambazonia.
Tuesday, October 30th, 2018. The press release read.

An American Missionary by name Charles Trumann Wesco shot dead in Bambui, Northen zone of Ambazonia by French Cameroun military.

An American Missionary by name Charles Trumann Wesco shot dead in Bambui, Northen zone of Ambazonia by French Cameroun military. A press release from the Interim Government of Ambazonia.Tuesday, October 30th, 2018. The press release read.Follow SCBC TV on Twitter using this link: https://twitter.com/scbc_tv

Posted by Southern Cameroons Broadcasting Corporation – SCBC on Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Author: Asu Vera Eyere

Source: Cameroon Concord News

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Maurice Kamto, candidate of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM), at the Cameroon October 7 presidential election, has said his national resistance plan against the President-elect, Paul Biya, will continue despite government crackdown on his supporters.

After Cameroon’s constitutional council declared Biya winner of the elections, Kamto had fired back.

Reacting to the constitutional council’s October 22 declaration,  Professor Maurice Kamto released a document which shows that he, Kamto, won by over 39% of validly cast votes.

In a video Kamto had called on public protests, urging party militants and Cameroonians in general, to rise up against the injustice. Some party militants heeded to the call, with many in and out of Cameroon taking to the streets. In Cameroon, the public protests both in Douala and Yaounde was met with fierce government’s crackdown as security forces arrested scores of CRM militants.

Hailing the brave militants, the CRM boss said those who were detained for decrying injustice will forever be heroes.

In a message dedicate to who he called patriots, Maurice Kamto said;

“To all the patriots of the diaspora who mobilized themselves as never before in our history since the proclamation of the unfair results of the presidential election of October 7; to all Cameroonians at home and abroad who have courageously been committed to this struggle of the National Resistance Plan (NRP) the past weekend; to those of you, who last Saturday and from the banks of River Wouri made Douala and Cameroon vibrate, by your peaceful and courageous acts; to the Cameroonian diaspora who from your stay in foreign land have joined your voices and your footsteps to those of the compatriots of Douala; to the protesters of the Roman Catholic Community of Yaoundé who, on the esplanade of Our Lady Cathedral, in silence, meditation, prayer, and in a peaceful manner, were in total fellowship last Sunday with the ideal to seek the truth of the presidential election of October 7, 2018; to those who brought their support and compassion to the imprisoned protesters, you were able to bear the cost of their arbitrary arrest, you have become heroes and your courage commands admiration, which by every way strengthens our determination to resist arbitrary arrest and oppression. Also, I strongly and vigorously condemn the squashing of your liberties and your rights by the forces against Truth, Law and Justice and I assure you of my unflinching commitment to this struggle.

To the lawyers and other people of good will who have spontaneously mobilized to defend those whose fight for freedom and justice led to their detention, hear in my voice the expression of my patriotic gratitude towards you.

Let’s stay mobilized because the national resistance continues!”

Source: journalducameroun

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