Anglophone Crisis Spillover: Yaoundé Under Siege from Protesting Teachers

Yaoundé: 27th March 2017

Every social problem is like malignant cancer! If not solved in time, it only spreads, it never goes away. That is the same with the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon which has emboldened teachers in Yaoundé to stage a protest march, starting at the Ministry of Finance.

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Many of the teachers are demanding to be paid wages they are owed for over 60 months.

Their placards carry messages such as “NO PAY! NO SCHOOL!; “WE WANT TO GET PAID NOW“; “RESPECT US“; “PAY OUR SALARIES“, among others.

Some of the organisers have confirmed that their hope is for all schools to be shut down across Cameroon until the deplorable educational conditions are addressed.

When asked if they considered it an extension of the Anglophone crisis, one of the protesters explained

“we cannot pretend our problem is as bad as the Anglophone crisis, but we have been inspired by their resilience. It is our way of showing solidarity, while at the same time expressing our grievances”.

This view is apt given that for many decades Anglophones have been suppressed, dehumanised and treated like second-class citizens in their own country. Over the last five months, the situation escalated when Lawyers and Teachers started protesting against the injustices suffered by English-Speaking Cameroonians.

The government of Cameroon responded with brutal military crackdown and arbitrary arrests and detention. Many lives were lost and property destroyed. The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, with which the government was hitherto negotiating, was suddenly banned, some of its leaders were arrested and are facing treason charges in a military court.

Many people have been expressing some optimism on social media following the action in Yaoundé. Some have boldly asserted that this has taken the Anglophone struggle into the lion’s den. Others have been calling on all factions of civil society across Cameroon to rise up and put an end to Biya’s 35 years of economic stagnation and widespread deprivation.

Some have been critical, asking why it is that there is no major crackdown by the security forces as was the case with the English-speaking teachers and lawyers. In response to this, it has been highlighted by others that this is just another indication that Anglophones are treated less favourably by the Biya regime.

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Collage Credit: Capo Camer

Whatever the situation, this is a rallying call to all Cameroonians to realise that this is the time to end the rot that has eaten into the fabrics of society. It is a call on all to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Cameroon’s president is reported to have gone to Geneva after his visit to Italy and the Vatican, should this unrest continue, it is projected that he will be unlikely to enjoy his much craved time in what has been known to be his actual country. Activists from across Europe are already mobilising to go to Geneva and chase Biya back to Cameroon.

Pope Francis Tells Paul Biya that Suppression of Freedom & Abuse of Human Rights is a ‘Path to Peace’

What would Jesus Do? This is the question that many have asked and keep asking in many different situations.

Yes What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, the Dictator who has clung to power in Cameroon for 35 years?

What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, at a time when millions of English-Speaking Cameroonians have been without the internet for 65 days and counting?

What would Jesus do if he were to have a one-to-one discussion with Paul Biya, after receiving hundreds of tweets from English-Speaking Cameroonians asking for his intervention?

What would Jesus do if presented with the case of millions of English-Speaking Cameroons who have been suppressed by successive Cameroonian governments?

If there is one person in the best position to answer these questions, it would be Pope Francis, the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope received Paul Biya of Cameroon and his Wife Chantal Biya at the Vatican, after an official state visit to Italy.

English-Speaking Cameroonians and well-wishers across the world held their breath as they expected the Pope to use it as an opportunity to preach a life-changing sermon to Biya. To say they were disappointed would be an understatement. Despite receiving hundreds of tweets with gruesome images and videos of the atrocities being committed in Cameroon by Biya’s government, the Pope chose to treat Biya as if he were a Saint, much to the chagrin and disappointment of millions of Catholic faithful who look up to the Pontiff to be the voice of the voiceless.

In a video released by The Rome Reports TV News Agency,  the Pope can be heard telling Biya after receiving a sculpture of an Elderly Cameroonian that “The Memory of elders is the Wisdom of a Country”.  As one tries to grapple with understanding what memory, or which elders or which wisdom, the statement is refering to, the pope goes on to present Biya with a sculpture that sybolises peace and then drops the bombshell “I Wish for Cameroon to Continue Walking on the Path of Peace”

Really? Cameroon where freedoms and personal liberty is suppressed, Cameroon where a 17-year-old University student is raped by the police and nothing is done about it; Cameroon where leaders of the Civil Society have been in prison for over 2 months, facing the death penalty, for peacefully demanding an end to the suppression of English-Speaking Cameroonians; Cameroon where hundreds have been arrested from their homes in the North West and South West Regions (which practices the Common Law system) and taken hundreds of miles to prison in Yaounde (a Civil Law jurisdiction); Cameroon, the country that has been world champion of corruption on two occassions; Cameroon in which any form of dissension against the corrupt and incompetent dictator is punished with a very lengthy prison sentence?

Is the Pope referring to another Cameroon or the same Cameroon where there is a genocide brewing and in which English-Speaking regions are under threat of extermination?

Anyone familiar with the Bible would not be in doubt about what Jesus would do if he met Biya. Jesus would have told him exactly what he told the Pharisees of his day. In Matt 12 33-36 Jesus had this message for the Pharisees

Make a tree sound and its fruit will be sound; make a tree rotten and its fruit will be rotten. For the tree can be told by its fruit   

 You brood of vipers, how can your speech be good when you are evil? For words flow out of what fills the heart.

Good people draw good things from their store of goodness; bad people draw bad things from their store of badness.

So I tell you this, that for every unfounded word people utter they will answer on Judgement Day

This is the type of message anyone would have expected the Pope to tell Mr. Biya. If I understand verse 35 above correctly, there is no way someone like Biya can bring about peace in Cameroon when he is not at peace with himself. A man whose hands are filled with the blood of innocent Cameroonians cannot be the one the Pope is wishing could be the architect of peace. A bad person as Biya is can only bring forth bad things from his store of badness.

The Pope, therefore, encouraged Biya to go on doing the horrible things he has been doing in Cameroon for the last 35 years, by insinuating that Biya was leading Cameroon on a path of peace.

I am sure even Jesus Christ would be disappointed that the Pope did not use this unique opportunity to preach the gospel to one man who needed to hear it the most. One thing though is clear, Cameroon is nowhere near the path of peace and unless Biya is told the truth by those whose responsibility it is to uphold the truth, then the journey to peace will be a very long on for Cameroon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cameroon High Commission London, Observe Ghost Town as Consortium Leaders go to Court in Yaounde

London Thursday 23rd March, 2017. 

It was meant to be a whole working day for the Cameroon High Commission, which according to its website, is open from 0930-1730 on Mondays to Fridays with the exception of UK and Cameroon Bank Holidays.

As it turned out, Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, was neither a bank holiday in the UK or Cameroon. Rather it was the day Anglophones, both in Cameroon and in the diaspora had agreed to hold a special ‘Ghost Town” in defiance of the decision of the Biya government to continue with the trial of civil society leaders and activists in a military court. Barrister Agbor Balla, Dr. Fontem Neba, Mancho Bibixy, Hon. Chief Justice Ayah Paul Abine, and many other activists were abducted from the English-Speaking regions of Cameroon without adherence to any due process and taken to Yaounde the capital of Cameroon, where they have been remanded in a maximum security prison for over 2 months. Reports from Yaounde state that the case was again adjourned.

Barrister Agbor Balla and Mancho Bibixy Show the World and West Cameroonians that their Spirit cannot be crushed by the Biya Regime's brutality
Barrister Agbor Balla and Mancho Bibixy Show the World and West Cameroonians that their Spirit cannot be crushed by the Biya Regime’s brutality

Activists of West Cameroon Movement for Change and other sympathisers from sister groups in the UK had decided to go to the High Commission of Cameroon as a way of showing solidarity with those arrested and also as a way of observing the ghost towns.

By the time protesters arrived at 1400, they were surprised to find only some members of the  Metropolitan Police outside the High Commission together with some members of the public who turned up for a 1500 appointment to find the doors already closed for the day.

Activists of West Cameroon Movement for Change and other sympathisers from sister groups in the UK had decided to go to the High Commission of Cameroon as a way of showing solidarity with those arrested and also as a way of observing the ghost towns.

By the time protesters arrived at 1400, they were surprised to find only some members of the  Metropolitan Police outside the High Commission together with some members of the public who turned up for a 1500 appointment to find the doors already closed for the day

Sone eye-witnesses who had been there earlier reported that the High Commission had closed its doors at 1400, explaining to people coming for the collection of documents, visas, and passports that this was in response to the planned demonstration there later that afternoon.

The Community Campaigns Officer for WCMC Mr. Collins K. expressed appreciation to the Cameroon High Commission for doing the honourable thing and observing the ghost town as requested. He, therefore, went on to call on those present to end the demonstration at 2200, instead of all-night given that the High Commission’s decision to close early had made it a much successful day than anticipated.

It should be recalled that protesters of WCMC had on a previous occasion spent an entire night outside the High Commission, thereby preventing the acting High Commissioner from going home.

The Chairman of WCMC, Mr. Mykel Takie, in a statement, thanked all the members who made it to the protest. He also extended his gratitude to those who could not, due to other commitments, but sent in their moral support. He further explained that this struggle was not for the faint hearted, and called on all members to know it was a ‘Marathon and not a 100-meter race’.

WCMC is planning a visit to the BBC, where they intend to shame the Broadcasting House for its complicity in the ongoing crisis in Cameroon through its act of silence. Many feel let down by the BBC to whom they are required by British law to pay TV license.

Another protest at the French Embassy to demand a response to an earlier petition submitted is also planned.

Shots Fired Outside The Houses of Parliament UK – Police Officer Confirmed Dead

There are reports that shots have been fired close to the Houses of Parliament in central London.

These have been confirmed by some politicians and journalists who have tweeted about hearing loud bangs outside the parliament buildings. According to a tweet from Tom Peck, political editor of the Independent, “There was a loud bang. Screams. Commotion. Then the sound of gunshots. Armed police everywhere.”

Some eyewitnesses have confirmed that they saw people being treated for injuries and also report seeing a man with a knife on the parliament grounds.

Scotland Yard has confirmed it was called to a firearms incident on Westminster Bridge amid reports of several people injured.

Westminster underground station has been shut at the police’s request according to Transport for London.

Latest reports confirm that a police officer died at the scene and another woman was also killed. The assailant is reported to have also been shot by the police. The situation has been described as a ‘terrorist attack’ by the police. 

 

 

Activists Became Uninvited Guests at CommonWealth Day Celebrations in London: Hold Cameroon Diplomats Hostage

London: March 13, 2017; The CommonWealth Day Celebrations lost all the flair and pomp planned for it because of West Cameroon activists who stormed Westminster Abbey where the Queen and all representatives of CommonWealth Countries were present.

Carrying a coffin draped with the Cameroon flag, they chanted demands asking for the liberation of West Cameroon. They declared their willingness to die for the struggle if something was not done to address the situation.

The highlight of the afternoon was when the Cameroon representatives tried to leave the venue before others. Activists chased their car towards the House of Commons. By Divine providence, a red light stopped the Diplomatic car, giving activists the opportunity to catch up and rain more embarrassment on those inside. The London Met Police and the Secret Service could only watch as there was little do to stop the protesters.

Later that evening, as all Commonwealth dignitaries were hoping for an evening of champagne, they were dismayed to turn up at the CommonWealth Secretariat only to find activists waiting with messages for the Biya regime. The then notorious coffin had also taken its place at the CommonWealth Secretariat.

It is worth remembering that this is the third visit to the Commonwealth Secretariat. The first of which saw a petition handed to the Secretary General, Patricia Scotland QC, demanding a suspension of Cameroon and the second during which an official made a vague promise to do something to ameliorate the situation.

The shadow of the protest cast a gloom over the evening dinner as more police officers were called to assist with policing the evening.

The evening reached its peak when the Cameroon representatives could not leave the event while their counterparts were going.

Dispute pleas from the police, protesters insisted that unless they saw the car of the Cameroon Diplomats they were not going to leave the venue.

 

Late in the night, when it was ascertained that the Cameroon representatives had been smuggled out of the venue in the cars of other diplomats… the coffin left its post. BUT with a firm promise to back.

Many of the dignitaries showed interest in understanding the plight of the protesters with some asking for further information and sources from which to find out more.

 

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!