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 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.

UK Cameroonians & Sympathisers Deliver Petition at French Embassy; Demand Response From CommonWealth Secretariat

Friday 20 January 2017 was a very chilly day in London, with temperatures just about 2 degrees or less. Even more chilling were the images and messages carried by Cameroonians and their sympathisers from across the United Kingdom. The messages were similar to those carried in previous demonstrations, decrying and denouncing the marginalisation of English-speaking Cameroonians. There was also a petition that was signed by all present and handed to a representative of the French government.

One noticeable difference, however, were the images and messages demanding the release of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium leaders – Barrister Agbor Balla and Dr Fontem Neba.

free-balla-and-neba

Their first destination was the Embassy of France in Knightsbridge, London. Among the many songs chanted, most notable, was one asking the question ‘how many people will Paul Biya Kill?’ – the appropriateness of the question is reflected in the silence of the international community to the violent crackdown going on in Cameroon. One cannot there help but wonder with the protesters – how many people does a dictator have to kill before there is an international outcry?

Another notable song was a dirge from the slavery days:

Oh, my home! Oh, my home!
When shall I see my home
When shall I see my native land
I will never forget my home!

By this song, the demonstrators were implying they were slaves in their own country. Another interpretation could be the barbaric conditions that had made some of the demonstrators to flee their Cameroon.

Why Embassy of France?

Many people might wonder why the protesters went to the French Embassy and Commonwealth Secretariat instead of going to the Cameroon High Commission. The reason is simple – they understand that the problems in Cameroon are directly linked to France’s continuous domination in Africa. In 1916, the French and British, after taking Cameroon from the Germans, arbitrarily divided the country between them. France had 80% of the Country, while the UK had 20%. These two regions, therefore, evolved with two distinct colonial structures and cultures.

Upon independence in 1960, the French staged a false independence after a war that had killed about 120,000 Cameroonian Nationalists. The UK however, in 1961, quickly left Southern Cameroons, following a sham plebiscite that amalgamated the two regions in a manner that created the conditions for a political osmosis. Given the French control of the Cameroon economy, and her inglorious history of intervening in the affairs of many African countries, it was only natural for the protesters to stop at France’s doors to demand that their country be left alone.

What seemed to be a simple demonstration almost spiralled out of control when the French Embassy refused to receive the signed petition from the demonstrators. The anger of the crowd was only assuaged when a contingent of British police officers, explained to the French Embassy that they could not refuse the petition. Audience was finally granted to the representatives of the West Cameroon Movement For Change (WCMC), UK. The petition was handed, with a promise that protesters will return if it was not acted upon.

Return to the Commonwealth Secretariat

On Friday, 09 December 2016, Cameroonians handed a petition to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, in which they demanded the suspension of Cameroon from the intergovernmental organisation. As no noticeable action has been seen from the organisation, protesters, therefore turned up at the Secretariat to demand a response to their petition.

Despite being a very peaceful protest, the large police presence was an indication that the demonstrators’ reaction to the French hesitation to collect their petition, had sent a clear message to the Met Police. The message was simple: this was not a joke!!!

After an agonising wait, the WCMC chairperson and another representative emerged fromimg-20170120-wa00441 the Secretariat with a letter which was read to the crowd. The letter had been hastily put together and did not respond directly to the petition. The crowd expressed their disappointment, but promised a return unless some decisive action was taken soon – at least beginning with an official statement from the Commonwealth, denouncing the killings, rape, torture and arbitrary arrests taking place in Southern Cameroons.

 

West Cameroon Movement for Change Petition French Embassy, London

On Friday, 20 January 2017, the West Cameroon Movement for Change, UK, led protesters to the French Embassy where they handed a petition.

The petition had five requests for the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, to pass on to her country. It asks France to:

  1. Stop its support for the dictatorial regime in Cameroon
  2. Condemn the rape, torture, acts of violence and arbitrary arrests of innocent citizens.
  3. Stop the proliferation of arms within Cameroon and the French African Region
  4. Stop its continuous dominance and exploitation of Cameroon through non-existent or extinct ‘bilateral deals’.
  5. Recognise that her continuous lopsided interference in Cameroon is likely to lead to a genocide similar to that of Rwanda.

Below is the full English version of the petition:

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The petition ended by reiterating the demands of WCMC and their sympathisers.

Below is a copy French Version of the petition

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The Consortium Calls for Caution; The UK Gains Momentum

Everything seemed to be set for the Cameroon worldwide peace walk that had been scheduled on the 2nd January 2017. Cameroon president Paul Biya’s speech on 31 December in which he insinuated that protesters were ‘extremists being manipulated’ did more to inflame the already precarious situation.

The President’s speech was a further example of how out-of-touch the man at the top was, about affairs in the Central African Nation of Cameroon. Riddled with a lot of contradictions, one thing that was clear from the end-of-year address was that protesters were clearly being threatened by the president. Hours following the address, this became evident as most of the strategic towns in the West Cameroon region, which were already militarised, got additional troops.

In the light of all these, it was therefore not surprising when the Civil Society Consortium issued their 11th Press release in which they assessed the situation and called off the protests scheduled for 2nd January.

CONSORTIUM PRESS RELEASE NO. 11
CONSORTIUM PRESS RELEASE NO. 11

This action was received with mixed feelings. While some persons were of the opinion that the Consortium had acted responsibly by thinking of the potential loss of lives, there were some persons like Mark Bareta who felt they did not have the mandate to call off the demonstrations. Others like Jet Newton felt that such an action will only embolden the regime in Cameroon.

 

This notwithstanding. the Leader of the West Cameroon Movement for Change, UK, Mike Takie, quickly reassured members that the Consortium had simply called off the demonstrations in Cameroon and not those planned in other places. He was very emphatic that this was rather a clarion call for the diaspora to understand the need to take the struggle abroad.

This call was hearkened by many who turned up at 10 Downing street, despite the freezing January weather. The banners and placards carried a variety of messages, all leading to one conclusion – West Cameroonians were ready for a long struggle and were not going to give up until Biya made some much-needed reforms that will guarantee the restoration of their lost dignity.

After several messages either addressing the protesters, addressing the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May MP, addressing the Biya Regime or simply addressing the general public, the protesters, walked through Whitehall to Trafalgar Square where more speeches and exaltations were made.

pic-of-demo-jan-2

When the London protesters finally gathered in a local pub for some refreshments and deliberations, one thing was certain – they were poised for a long, bitter struggle. None of them was under the illusion that this was going to be an easy walk. Nonetheless, they seemed in agreement on one thing – it was either this walk was taken to its logical conclusion or West Cameroonians would see their gradual extermination by Biya.

An address from Mr. Takie further informed the group of many planned activities including upcoming demonstrations in and around London. The next destination was a revisit to the Commonwealth Secretariat to get a response to the petition handed to them a few weeks ago.

The response from all gathered was unanimous – THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!