On Friday 9 December, 2016, Cameroonians in the UK presented the following petition which was signed by all present to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth



The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC

Mindful of the fact that in 1995, with the approval of all other member countries, Cameroon joined the Commonwealth and subscribed to the Charter of the Commonwealth;

Mindful of the fact that the Commonwealth Charter promises to uphold and promote the values and aspirations of democracy, human rights and the rule of law;

Mindful of the fact that the same Charter expresses the commitment of its member states to the development of free and democratic societies and the promotion of peace and prosperity to improve the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth;

Mindful of the fact that the same Charter also acknowledges the role of civil society in supporting the goals and values of the Commonwealth;

Also, mindful of the fact that the Commonwealth Secretariat aims to promote democracy, rule of law, human rights, good governance and social and economic development, by being the voice for small states and a champion for youth empowerment;

Further mindful of the fact that on the 11 November 1995 the Commonwealth Heads of Government suspended Nigeria from membership of the Commonwealth for contravening the principles of the Harare Commonwealth Declaration,

We Recall:

  • That in 1916, the upon defeating the Germans, the British and French arbitrary divided the country into two zones – The Northern and Southern Cameroons (administered by the British) and La Republique Du Cameroun (under French control);
  • That in the 1950s when the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC) led by Ruben Um Nyobe demanded that French and British Cameroons be united into one independent country, the party was banned and many thousands, including Um Nyobe, were killed.
  • That the Republic gained independence on January 1, 1960, and following a UN plebiscite in 1961. Northern Cameroons chose to unite with Nigeria while Southern Cameroons in October 1961, joined the Republic and the country became THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON, with each section maintaining their parliaments and named West Cameroon and East Cameroon respectively.
  • That in 1972, in what many Southern Cameroonians today consider a move towards annexation, President Ahmadou Ahidjo oversaw the dissolution of the Federation and made it THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON.
  • That without any referendum or public vote, President Paul Biya in 1984, started the process for the complete extinction of Southern Cameroons by changing the name of the country back to THE REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON – the name held by the French region before the union in 1961.

We further recall that:

  • This heightened the consistent marginalisation of English-Speaking Cameroonians. The English language which was to be an official language with equal status as French was gradually relegated to the background. This is evident in the fact that President Paul Biya who has been President for over 34 years has never bothered to learn English.
  • Official documents are mostly in French and that for 34 years, the President has only been to the English-speaking Regions a handful of times.

We bring your attention to the fact:

  • That when the government ignored resolutions made at the inaugural All-Cameroon common law lawyers’ conference held in Bamenda on 9 May, 2015 denouncing among other things, the “bias nature of law making in Cameroon” and particularly condemning the past discriminatory amendments of the Constitution, the lawyers subsequently decided to go on strike and peacefully demonstrate to call the government to action.
  • That security forces attacked the lawyers with teargas and many were injured, while the gowns and wigs of some were confiscated.
  • That teachers and other members of civil society subsequently joined the strikes and demonstrations across Bamenda and Buea, all denouncing what is now commonly known as the ‘Anglophone Problem’.
  • That there has been brutal crackdown on peaceful protests by the security forces and there are several allegations of torture and rape (including the rape of a 17-year-old student) by the security forces.
  • That many students from the University of Buea who joined the protests chanting ‘no to violence’ were brutally beaten and many arrested and detained.
  • That on 6 December 2016, the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium declared that the strike actions continue and demanded a return to a TWO-STATE FEDERATION as the best guarantee of the protection, promotion and preservation of minority rights, especially the rights of English-Speaking Cameroonians (See attached).

In the light of the above, we submit that the Cameroon government has failed to:

  • Uphold the Rule of law by ordering security forces to beat, harass and confiscate the property of lawyers.
  • Respect the basic human rights of its citizens. That the basic human rights of Cameroonians have been consistently violated by the Biya government with arbitrary suppression of personal freedoms, brutalization and rape of civilians.
  • Uphold the principles of good governance: That the principle of good governance and social and economic development in Cameroon is almost non-existent. This is evident in the fact that for the last 34 years there has been a consistent and drastic increase in youth unemployment. [1]
  • Promote the principles of democracy as the ‘democracy’ under Paul Biya is one in which one man who calls himself the “President” rules the nation as a personal estate, makes mockery of the constitution, controls the nation’s coffers and dishes out money as if it were his personal account, and spends most of his time abroad.
  • Protect the lives of Cameroonians given that after 34 years in power, poverty is ravaging Cameroon, many people have died of curable diseases simply because they could not afford to pay hospital bills.[2]

Based on these violations of the principles of the charter of the Commonwealth, we ask that:

  1. Cameroon Should be suspended from the Commonwealth until the government calls for dialogue and start listening to the demands of the Civil Society.
  2. The Commonwealth uses its influence to ask President Paul Biya to personally address the ongoing crisis in Cameroon.
  3. The Commonwealth joins us in demanding that an independent inquiry be carried out into the systematic abuse of human rights that have occurred since the beginning of this current crisis and the perpetrators brought to justice.

Trusting that the Commonwealth is going to live by its creed, we hereby sign this petition:

We recall that in early March, 2016 Monique Koumate, a 31-year-old pregnant woman with twins and about to give birth died along with her two babies at the doors of the Laquintinie Hospital, sparking outrage throughout Cameroon and abroad. This is the reality of the majority of Cameroonians. We also recall that on 21 October, 2016, while Paul Biya as usual was on an extended stay abroad, Cameroon experienced one of its worst transportation disasters, as a direct consequence of poorly maintained roads and railway links. Hundreds of people were killed and an equally large number injured.
In most parts of the country, especially in the North West and South West Regions, corporations (U.N.V.D.A., PAFSAT, WADA, MIDEVIV, MIDENO, Marketing Boards, Cooperative societies, just to name a few) have either folded up or are shadows of what they used to be. Only the carcasses of these institutions remind one of their existences-once upon a time.


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