A Dozen Killed. Hundreds Arrested. Many Feared “Disappeared”. Government Media in Pre-1994 Rwandan Genocide Gear. U.S.-Donated Military Equipment Deployed, Killing Civilians.
- More than a dozen people have been killed. Over 70 injured after riot police and paramilitary forces opened fire on crowds of peaceful protesters in the towns of Bamenda, Buea and Kumba located the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, whose eight other regions (80% of the population) speak French.
- State-owned media says four were killed. Social media has overwhelming evidence (pictures and videos) that many more were killed and many may have been “disappeared”. Female students have been raped, including the 17-year-old niece of an MP, Hon. Joseph Wirba, whose citation of Thomas Jefferson’s “when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes a duty” has become a rallying call.
- The strikes by lawyers and teachers were aimed to protest the dominance of French-speaking teachers and the use of French in courts in the English-speaking regions.
- President Biya’s offer to appease the strike organizers with 2 billion francs CFA (about $s400 million) in subsidies to schools and a recruitment drive for 1,000 bilingual teachers has been ridiculed as a “bribe” and is considered too little, too late.
- The violent response to strikes by lawyers, teachers, students, taxi bike riders, etc. triggered widespread street protests, making a wide range of political demands, from an end to discrimination based on language to outright independence.
- The Diaspora in several Western capitals, including in the USA decry the use of military hardware donated by the US government and intended to fight Boko Haram terrorists that have been used against civilians.
- The main English-speaking movements (SCNC, Ambazonia, SCARM, SCARPO, SYCL, etc.) have banded together to form the Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons (MoRISC) which has published an ambitious – even daring – roadmap aiming for the restoration of independence by 1 October 2017.
- The Government Spokesperson and state-owned media sound increasingly like Radio Mille Collines ahead of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda – calling protesters “rebels”, “insurgents”, “terrorists” and “secessionists”; and justifying police violence as “self defense”. Fears of genocide are accentuated by a statement in parliament a year ago by a Minister that the 1961 merger between the two Cameroons was meant to be like “putting a cube of sugar into a bowl of water”.
- President Biya’s policy is to achieved what he calls “national integration”, seen as a euphemism for “assimilation” of the minority.
- The botched decolonization of La Republique du Cameroun or present-day French-speaking Cameroun (independent on 1 January 1960) and of the British-ruled Southern Cameroons or present-day English-speaking Cameroon (independent on 1 October 1961) are at the genesis of the ongoing crisis.
- Following the two independences, an experiment at building national unity based on two equal states (East Cameroon and West Cameroon) lasted 11 years, until 20 May 1972 when the French-speaking majority voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to set up a unitary state. Six years earlier, all opposition parties had been banned.
- Biya inherited this system in November 1982 and has hardly changed it in his 34 years of one-man rule, taking advantage of the all-powerful presidential powers to put a end to the “United Republic” (started in 1972) when he reverted in April 1984 to the name of La Republique du Cameroun.
- English-speaking pro-independence activists argue that the 1984 presidential decree constitutes secession by the French-speaking part, leaving Southern Cameroons with the choice of either submitting to “black-on-black” colonialism or restoring the independence of Southern Cameroons.
- One poll by one of the country’s Catholic universities has suggested that an overwhelming majority of English-speaking citizens (88%) are for independence.
- A 2009 ruling by an African Union-created court based in Banjul (The Gambia) recognized Southern Cameroonians as “a people, different from the people of French-speaking Cameroon”.
- President Biya’s government has failed to implement the part of the ruling which ordered a dialogue, moderated by the court, between the two peoples of the Cameroons. Expected to hold in 180 days, it had not convened seven years after.
- Last Friday, 9 December 2016, SCARPO submitted paperwork before the court in The Gambia, asking it to grant non-objection for the admission of Southern Cameroons as a member of the African Union – a vital first step if the territory and its people are to regain international sovereignty.
Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons (MoRISC)