West Cameroon Movement for Change Chairperson Announces October 1, 2018, Worldwide Demonstration

October 1 means different things to every Cameroonian. To the Federalist, it is the day the Two-State Federation came into existence, therefore, marking the birth of the State of West Cameroon. To the Separatist or Ambazonian, it is the day on which their Interim President, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, declared the restoration of their independence on October 1st, 2017. To other Cameroonians, it is the day on which President Paul Biya ordered the indiscriminate massacre of many unarmed civilians in 2017, thereby plunging the country deeper into crisis. For many families in Cameroon, West of the Mungo – also known as – Southern Cameroons, West Cameroon, Ambazonia or simply Anglophone (English-Speaking) Cameroon, it is the day they will never forget as their loved ones were brutally taken away from them and their lives torn apart forever.

These issues are the core of the message delivered by the Chairman of the West Cameroon Movement for Change (WCMC), Michael Takie, on his first-ever live broadcast on their Facebook page. Mr. Takie highlighted that while the federalist is looking for the restoration of the lost dignity of the people of West Cameroon and calling for a return to the Two-State Federation; the separatist is calling for the restoration of the dignity of the people of Southern Cameroons through a clean and complete break with the Republic of Cameroon and the Ambazonian is commemorating their day of independence, one thing stands in the way of all these people – DICTATOR PAUL BIYA AND HIS REGIME.

WCMC Chairman, Michael Takie, talks to a reporter about the issues in Cameroon
WCMC Chairman, Michael Takie, talks to a reporter about the issues in Cameroon

To this end, therefore, Mr. Takie highlighted the need for all to unify and challenge the monster preventing the people from reaching their different aspirations. He argued that irrespective of what differences people have with regards to their destination, it is obvious that their journey goes along the same road, and hence, they ought to use the same vehicle and keep each other company.

Rallying together to ask that Biya leaves power and should not stand for the 7th October 2018 elections, is, according to Mr. Takie, something that serves a triple purpose. First, it liberates the whole of Cameroon from 36 years of baren rule. Secondly, it is the beginning of justice for the people who have lost their lives at the hands of Biya and thirdly, it is a step in the right direction for everyone fighting for change in Cameroon.

A demonstration across major cities and countries in the world was therefore announced. Those currently confirmed are: 

YAOUNDE – LONDON – NEW YORK – PARIS – WASHINGTON DC – BELGIUM – SOUTH AFRICA

Confirmations for other demonstrations scheduled to take place at Cameroon’s Embassies and foreign missions in other Countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas are still awaited.

While it has been established that the different countries will decide on the location for their demonstrations, the WCMC leader proposed that the targets on that day should largely be the disruption of business for all Cameroon’s foreign Missions. This is with the exception of Yaounde, where the location for the demonstration is a highlight guarded secret, which will be released shortly before the day of the demonstration.

Drawing inspiration from the people of Burkina Faso, who stood together as one and demanded the departure of Blaise Compaore, this demonstration is a call to every Cameroonian, who wants things to change, irrespective of their linguistic background or political affiliation, to come out en masse and demand an end to Biya’s monstrosity.

The WCMC has together with other frontline organisations in the UK, been at the forefront of organising demonstrations and starting petitions. It has organised demonstrations multiple times at the Cameroon High Commission in London, at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, French Embassy, Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. This is the first time it is working with leaders of groups beyond the UK to organise a worldwide shutdown. WCMC believes that the main strategy to stop a dictator like Biya, remains non-violent peaceful resistance.

 

Cameroon Bribes UN Human Rights Centre to Cover its Abuses?

Many people have wondered why many international bodies reporting on human rights abuses, have been conspicuously silent on the case of Cameroon, especially the abuses committed by the Biya Regime.

The UN Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa has clarified the situation. Some of them are receiving donations from the same corrupt institutions they are meant to be watchdogs over. Proudly announcing a donation of $18K from Cameroon on their Twitter Account, the UN Human Rights was probably unprepared for the reaction they received from some Cameroonian Activists.

With the Biya regime’s record on bribery and corruption, such donations can only be construed to mean one thing. An incentive to the HR body to look the other way, while it continues with its flagrant disregard for human rights.

Many Twitter users stormed the tweet, posting images and videos of the different abuses the Cameroon government has been meting out on its population over the last few months. Some questioned why the Centre for Human Rights will accept donations from a

Thomas-Awah-Junior.jpg
Thomas Awah Junior currently very ill at Kondengui Maximum Prison

country that has refused to grant access to most Rights bodies to examine its detention centres and prisons. Such questions are not surprising, given that videos have been leaked from the Kondengui maximum security prison, indicating horrible living conditions. There is also currently a campaign on social media asking for the release of one Thomas Awah Junior, publisher of the Aghem News Magazine who is critically ill at the Kondengui Maximum Prison in Yaounde.

Judith Nwana, a Cameroonian activist, accused the UN Human Rights Centre for its hypocrisy. She further challenged the regime to use the money in helping refugees and internally displaced persons caused by its highhandedness in dealing with the ongoing crisis in the English-Speaking Regions of the country.

Over the last couple of years, Cameroon has been gradually descending into a state of anarchy. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, has visited Cameroon at the heart of the conflict, during which, Cameroonians worldwide held their breath as they hoped and prayed that something positive would happen following the visit. The SG rather left with a gift from the Cameroon Dictator Paul Biya, and never made an official statement about the crisis. The hopes of Cameroonians were again crushed, as it was the case when Biya visited the vatican and met with the Pope.

Efforts by the media outlet, Inner City Press to call on the UN to act and halt the violent crackdown in Cameroon, rather resulted in them being harassed and kicked out of the United Nations.

It would, therefore, appear that while Cameroonians are desperately hoping that the UN might intervene in some way to help them out of the precarious situation they find themselves, the different organs of the UN and its leaders are rather making feather beds with the Cameroon dictator and his regime.

This should not in the least be surprising, given that the UN has been known to be silent over the worst conflicts or genocides that have occurred over the last few decades. The Rwanda Genocide is a case in point, where the UN’s inaction has been largely blamed for the high number of deaths that were recorded.

Unless other bodies such as Amnesty Internation and Centre for Human Rights & Democracy in Africa continue to put out reports of the atrocities being committed by the Biya Regime, it is certain that no one will. Most certainly not the UN Centre for Human Rights.

Ayaba Cho Lucas Allegedly Exposed in Fake London Oil Deal

As elections loom in Cameroon and as the Ambazonians reinforce their threats that the said elections will not hold in the English-Speaking regions, which they have declared theirs and renamed ‘Ambazonia’; as news reports keep coming through highlighting the high human costs of the ongoing conflict; as English-Speaking Cameroonians find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place, one would have thought that the focus of every Ambazonian and Cameroonian will be geared towards finding long-lasting solutions to the problem and easing the burden it has imposed on the ordinary citizen.

Unfortunately, this seems not to be the case. As the dust is gradually settling on the scandal which exposed the leaders of the Ambazonia movement fighting over funds raised in Washington DC, a new scandal seem to be brewing. This is alleged to have been over an oil deal that was set up with Ayaba Cho Lucas in London.

Videos are circulating on Social Media showing the Commander in Chief of the Ambazonia Defense Fores and President of the Ambazonia Governing Council Dr Ayaba Cho Lucas, being challenged by some people who appear to be from the same English-Speaking regions of Cameroon.

In one of the videos, Ayaba Cho is being accused of plotting the abduction of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, the President of the Ambazonia Interim Government. Tabe and some members of his cabinet where abducted on the 5th of January 2018  at Nera Hotel in Nigeria, and have been supposedly held incommunicado by the Cameroon government since then.

Ayaba is also accused in the videos of falling for a trap set by his interlocutors, who claim to have posed as contractors willing to sign an oil deal with Ambazonia. While there is clearly no evidence in the videos to support these claims, it has nonetheless led to many people questioning the character of Ayaba Cho Lucas. Among these and other accusations, questions are raised as to why Ayaba’s forces have been attacking other Ambazonian forces on the ground.

As is to be expected, there are many who have come to his defence, some claiming that it is a setup by agents of the Biya Regime. Others, including his Wife, Li Ayaba, have argued that it is a setup by what she calls ‘Virtual Internet Government – VIG’. She concludes that her husband has a clear conscience and that he was under the protection of God. This defence received some acclaim from fans and followers, though some took the opportunity to challenge Mrs. Ayaba.

One of the commentators accused the whole family and tagged them thieves, questioning why one person would want to sign an oil deal on behalf of 8 million people and without consulting the other leaders.

This scandal, whatever its merits may be, has further deepened the mistrust and rifts that exist between the leaders of the Ambazonia movement. As tensions intensify in Cameroon and as the death toll increases, with the number of internally displaced persons reaching an all time high, it is imperative that there is some semblance of unity of purpose among the front-line leaders..

A few days before the commencement of what is simply known as No Circulation strategy which forbids movement within the English-Speaking Regions, this situation further casts a gloom over the prospects of those facing the brunt of the crisis.

 

Cameroon Ruling Party Militant Rejects Biya: Asks Other Party Members to Do Same

One of the most difficult things to understand in Cameroon politics is why any one would support the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Party (CPDM). I had some years back, classed them as a bunch of people who celebrate mediocrity. However, when Biya declared his intention to stand for president – AGAIN, I was shocked to see members of the party supporting this bid. The most disturbing justification given by most of them is that Biya is their natural candidate and that no one can perform the job as good as he does.

This assertion is weird in many ways. First, the fact that Biya is over 86 years old, has been president for 36 years with nothing to show for it. Second is the fact that even if Biya were to win another term, there is no guarantee that he will live above 90 given his constant medical trips to Swticerland. The question that has always plagued my mind is what will happen to this party when nature takes its course and Biya leaves the stage? One thing to note is that Biya currently is the emblem of the party. Every party uniform or publicity material carries a more than 30 years old picture of Biya. It seems however, that like Biya, the militants of this party are happy to see Cameroon sink.

But not one lady who identifies herself as Solange Siret and her residence as Switzerland. In a self-made video that had been making its rounds on social media, Solange has finally decided that enough is enough.

Wearing her party uniform and ensuring that Biya’s picture was in the background, this lady lamented on how bad the situation in Cameroon is. She decries the fact that Biya has decided to run for another term. To her, this is totally unacceptable. Her reason is not that Biya is incompetent, which would be the blatant truth. She makes the logical argument that at Biya’s age, he should be retired and testing at his home in Mvomeka. She explains that given Biya’s age, it is most certain that many decisions of State will be taken by others.

Ms Siret goes on to state categorically that if Biya is a candidate at the 7th October elections, she will be voting another person. She then goes on to call on other militants of her party to do the same.

While I am of the impression that this lady might have seen the handwriting on the wall and is making sure she crosses on the right side of history before doomsday, I cannot help but applaud her actions. Many Cameroonians on social media have expressed the fear that this lady’s life might be in danger, with some cautioning that she should go into hiding. Such sentiments are borne of the fact that over the 36 years of his barren rule, Biya has responded to criticisms by either killing or imprisonment.

Whether other members of the party will hearken to Solange’s plea is a matter of conjecture. I am however of the impression that even if all the members of the party including Biya’s wife were to vote a different candidate, the electoral mechanism in Cameroon is such that Biya will still emerge as a winner.

So, rather than calling on others to vote another candidate, the right call will be for them to pressure Biya to stand down as a candidate before the election date. That is the only way to guarantee that Biya will not come forth as the undeserving winner of an election, organised while a part of the country is embroiled in civil conflict.

Cameroon: South West Elites Expose Their Ignorance: Challenged By Women Calling for Peace

A few weeks ago, elites of the North West Region of Cameroon got together and raised funds to support Biya’s bid for another term as president, ignoring the fact that Biya had ordered the military to kill and maim young people in their Region.

If one thought they had seen the height of  stupidity, they were yet to see the actions of Elites from the other Region of English-speaking Cameroon. A few days ago the elites of the South West Region met in Buea, and instead of condemning the massacre of their citizens, they, among other things demanded that Biya increase the number of troops in the region.

In addition to calling for more troop deployment, the South West Forum rejected the peace conference initiative of Christian Cardinal Tumi and denounced a Two-State Federation. Paradoxically, they resolved to call for inclusive dialogue.

Either they clearly do not understand what the words “inclusive” and “dialogue” means, or they are the most deluded people ever to sit in one room. By rejecting Tumi’s Peace Conference and rejecting a Two-State Federation, while calling for increased troop deployment, they have in more ways than one, indicated that they did not want a resolution to the current crisis. It is therefore, a mere façade when they claim to love their people.

As if in confirmation of how out of touch the South West Forum and it’s elites are, women of the Region have today gathered in Buea to protest against the ongoing war and indiscriminate violence against the most vulnerable.

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Holding placards and peace plants, the message and call for Peace could not have been clearer. One placard read : WAR IS COSTLY, BUT PEACE IS PRICELESS” This summarises how the women feel about the continuation of hostilities.

The match today clearly highlights that the elites do not know what their people want, and are not even ready to understand what is required.  It is hoped that the peace match by the women of the South West Region can be copied across the English-speaking Regions and be the rallying action for Peace.

Since Biya refused to hearken to the peaceful demands of civil society and resorted to violence, it is estimated that over 6000 people have been killed, over 40.000 refugees in Nigeria, 160.000 internally displaced and over a 100 villages have been burned. The economic cost of the violence is yet to be fathomed.

Police Stop and Search Target Specific Demographic - Photo Credit: Maya Evans

Notting Hill Carnival: UK Police Found to be Segregating during ‘Stop & Search’

Events such as the Notting Hill Carnival have historically been known to cough up a lot of surprises, least among which has not been the case of violence. As is to be expected therefore, the police do everything in their power to ensure that those who attend such events are protected from attacks. One way of doing this is through ‘Stop and Search’.

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The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 gives police officers in England and Wales the powers to stop and search anyone if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect the person is carrying:

  • illegal drugs
  • a weapon
  • stolen property
  • something which could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar

A person can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if the police have grounds to suspect that:

  • serious violence was likely to take place
  • the person is carrying a weapon or have used one
  • the person is a specific location or area

Despite these powers being in place, there are many instances where the police have been accused of using them to target specific persons based on their age and racial background. One would have thought that in the 21st Century, such segregation will not exist. How wrong would they be?

As images and videos flooded social mediasphere at the peak of the Notting Hill Carnival, it came with little surprise when Anti-War and Human Rights Activist, Maya Evans posted images of Police engaged in Stop and Search. It would have been a routine exercise but for the fact that the targets were mainly young men, aged 25 or below, of Afro-Caribbean backgrounds. Maya goes on to explain that upon speaking to some of the young people, it appeared they even wondered if this was a legal act.

While Maya’s images portray a very responsive group of young persons, the situation is different in a video posted by Justice or Else UK, a Human Rights group campaigning against police brutality and deaths in custody. In this video, it would appear that a young man had resisted being searched, and was being forcefully arrested by the officers. The videographer, who also happens to have been an eyewitness, can be heard asking the police what ‘probable cause’ they had for stopping the young man.

As earlier indicated, the police have a right to stop and search anyone if there were reasonable grounds to suspect them of committing or intending to commit a crime. Also, what is often not told, is the fact that the person has the right to refuse being searched, unless the police can provide justification to indicate that there was reason to believe the person constituted a threat to the public. As stop and search is officially not an arrest, it is therefore wrong for the police to have forcefully grabbed the young man, without providing reason to justify their actions. In the instance where the police had grounds to suspect them of committing or intending to commit a crime, they could be arrested, but only after their rights had been read to them and they had been told of what they were being arrested for.

It is therefore sad that even in the most colourful of events, the person of African origin is always a target from the very institutions that are supposed to make them feel safe. it is even sadder that nothing is being done to stop the institutional profiling of young people of colour in the UK, who disproportionately suffer from police brutality.

It is understandable, especially given the number of persons that were injured this year at the carnival as reported by the Guardian, that measures ought to be taken to protect the public. However, when such measures target a specific demographic, it loses its legitimacy.

 

Ambazonia Interim Government Calls for School Resumption in Southern Cameroons – With Some Caveats

The issue of school resumption in the English-Speaking parts of Cameroon has been a very contentious one. Over the last week, the debate has been intense with some advocating out-rightly that schools should resume, some out-rightly rejecting the notion and some arguing that for schools to resume, there has to be some promise of security.

In what has been a signficant U-turn, the Interim Government of the self-proclaimed Federal Republic of Ambazonia, through its Communication Secretary Chris Anu, in a broadcast, announced that they were not against school resumption.

In a message that was 1 hour and 16 minutes long, the representative of the Interim government of Ambazonia dealt with a large number of issues. Amidst exhalations to those still fighting for the restoration of their statehood, he used historical references to indicate why there was no need to give up.

At the 43rd minute and 27th second however, he turned his attention to the issue of school resumption. He made it clear that the Interim Government and front-line movements, having held in the past that schools should not resume, are taking a different approach to the issue. Announcing that schools were free to resume and that educational institutions were free to open their doors, the Ambazonia leaders have shown without doubt that they are more concerned about the future of Cameroonians than the current Biya regime.

In my message to the leaders before their Washington DC conference, I had raised the issue of school resumption and argued that it will cast the leaders in a more favourable light as education remains one of the key ways of ensuring a better future for children and for continuity of the quest for freedom.

Justice Ayah Paul Abine also raised the issue, while highlighting the importance of making sure that school resumption was closely linked to the halting of hostilities. It therefore came as no surprise that while making the announcement that schools can resume, the Ambazonian Interim Government, raised the issue of security as a concern. Pointing out to the many instances where the Cameroonian security apparatus has failed to provide safety for citizens, it was made clear that as people resume schooling, they should be aware that the levels of insecurity are still high.

This announcement has effectively increased the pressure on the Biya Regime to ensure that hostilities are halted ahead of the school resumption. In the last two years, the regime in Yaounde has been able to hide under the banner of school boycott policies, to blame all activists fighting for a better Cameroon for anything that went wrong with the educational system. The regime on occasion, blamed activists and Ambazonian fighters for burning schools and attacking pupils and students as way of enforcing school boycott. All of that changes with this announcement.

It is therefore hoped that with this announcement, schools can resume and parents can make the decision to send their kids to school without the fear of disobeying orders from the Ambazonian leadership. It is a tiny step forward, but certainly one in the right direction, especially given the challenges that the school boycott was already presenting to the economy of the Anglophone Regions and to the general health of the struggle for freedom.

 

 

Francophone Activists Turn on the Heat on the Biya Regime & France: Demonstrate in Paris

In times of uncertainty, it has long been argued, the most potent weapon to guarantee victory is building alliances. The seventh suggestion I made to the Anglophone leaders who met in Washington DC last weekend, was the need to form alliances with other oppressed people – especially Francophones.

The logic is simple, we may have different visions of what we want, but we have common enemies. For the Francophone in Cameroon, it is the dysfunctional regime of Dictator Paul Biya, while to those from other countries, it is the imperialism of France.

Whether the Anglophone leaders considered doing anything of this nature is left to be seen. However, the idea has clearly been piloted both by Emmanuel Kemta, who during last Sunday’s attack on Biya, constantly referred to the killing of Anglophones; and today, but Francophones both from Cameroon and other countries such as Gabon and Congo, who demonstrated in front of the Cameroon Embassy in Paris.

The demonstrators where unanimous in the condemnation of the brutal massacre of English-Speaking Cameroonians. They were also very vocal in condemning the other atrocities perpetrated by the Biya regime among women and children in other parts of the country.

Talking to one of the organisers, he confirmed that they are guided by the principle that by working with others, all oppressed people can easily win against oppression than if they were working on their own. He said this was the beginning of a movement that was hoped will spread across all French-Speaking African countries. Their broad objective is not only to condemn the dictatorships that seem to be more rampant in Francophone Africa, but also to ensure the destruction of the Francs CFA.

It should be noted that Fourteen Countries in Africa currently subjected to the use of the French currency. There are four fundamental principles guiding France’s relationship with the CFA countries. These are captured succinctly by Pierre Canac and Rogelio Garcia-Contreras in an article in the Journal of Asian and African Studies (February 2011).

  1. The French Treasury guarantees without limits, the convertibility of the two CFA francs.
  2. The two CFA francs are convertible at a fixed exchange into French francs [now euros],”. So France abandoned the French Francs but we are stuck with the CFA Franc. Also, the fixed exchange rate can change, but only when France approves.
  3. Despite plenty of restrictions, there are no de jure controls on the movements of capital within the [CFA] zone.”
  4. The CFA zone members must “pool together a minimum of 65% of their international reserves, corresponding to 20% of the monetary base of each central bank, into an operations account at the French Treasury”.

There is therefore hope not only for Cameroonians – Anglophones and Francophones alike – but also for the whole of French Africa, should this movement gain momentum, and lead to the true liberation of French-Africa from the clutches of imperialism.

Southern Cameroonians Descend on Washington DC: Demand A Response from the Rest of the World

It was meant to be a weekend during which the frontline leaders of the English-speaking Cameroon Struggle speak as one, in a bid to find a way forward.

The leaders started with closed door meetings, followed by a session during which people across the world called in to voice their opinions.

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The highlight of the weekend however has been the massive crowd that stormed the streets of Washington DC on this Sunday 19 August 2018.

Their message was simple: the world cannot keep quiet while Cameroonians of English extraction were being killed by the Biya Regime.  While this is a compelling message, it does not fully capture the reality of the situation.

While the Biya Regime has been engaged in killings and burning down of villages, the pro-independence fighters, under the banner of self defence have been engage in repprisal attacks on both the military and those tagged as ‘traitors’ or ‘black legs’. What this effectively means is that, as the conflict continues, Cameroonians are killing each other, while the person who has the ability to halt hostilities is tucked away in a Swiss Hotel.

It is true that Cameroonians are dying on a daily basis. It is also true that killings are taking place on both sides. The most true of all is that every one loses except those in positions of power.

As I suggested in one of my posts, the leaders of the Anglophone struggle also have the ability to declare a ceasefire and take some measures that will ease the dire living conditions of those at the heart of the raging conflict.

Until such time when one side decides to put the wellbeing of the masses ahead of their ideology, this will continue to be a lose-lose situation for ordinary Cameroonian within the English-speaking Regions.

Until such time, it is difficult to say what the response of the rest of the world could be, other than a call on both sides to halt the hostilities.

Cameroon Military Allegedly Capture Base of Separatist Fighters

Images being displayed by the Cameroon military indicate that they have captured one of the bases of operations of the Ambazonian Separatist fighters. According to an update posted on their Facebook Page Honneur et Fidélité – Armée Camerounaise.,  the operation led to the killing of one Ambazonian fighter, one captured, and several wounded in the forest. These claims are difficult to verify, given that the pictures do not show any dead or wounded fighters. There is, however, one young person sitting in mud, who apparently has been captured. However, there is no indication in the picture that he was caught at the scene where other items are reported to have been found.

Captured Ambazonian fighter
Person claimed by Cameroon Military to be a Captured Ambazonian Fighter

Among the other things reported to have been recovered from the fighter’s base, are 03 Ak47 + 06 other firearms; 520 rounds of ammunition, 29 hunting rifles plus 1137 matching rounds of 12 calibre ammunition; 2 defensive grenades, 1 electricity generator, a solar plate, 3 motorcycles, 1 heavy gear battery, 1 ADF T-shirt, 1 Camouflage pants, 1 canal+ antenna, a dozen bags of rice, Kitchen utensils and hundreds of bottles of dry-Gin.

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The Cameroon Military has been in a long drawn out conflict with Separatist fighters, following Biya’s declaration of war against activists. Activists who were hitherto peacefully demanding that the Anglophone problem be resolved either through a Two-State Federation or through a Separation of the Country, feel their actions are justified as they are merely defending themselves from Biya’s brutality. Huge casualties have been recorded on both sides of the warring factions, but the most casualty has been suffered by the ordinary citizen, faced with the challenges of a war situation.