FINAL VERSION, EDITED FOR TYPOS
An Open Letter to the Secretary General of United Nations Organization
Dear Mr. Secretary General,
Protests by Palestine cannot Revoke Israel’s Independence
Thanks for taking questions on the occasion of #UNGA72. Special thanks for your kind consideration of the suggestions I offer below.
First, thank you for what you do for world peace and security. Kindly allow me to draw your attention anew to the ongoing crisis in the Cameroons. The United Nations holds the key to resolving this crisis. Surely the Secretary General agrees that it would neither be justice nor promotion of world peace if UNGA Resolution 181 (adopted thanks to 33 YES votes, 13 NO votes and 10 abstentions and resulting in effective independence for Israel) were to be undermined simply because of Palestinian claims and opposition to international sovereignty for Israel. It is the failure of the United Nations to fully implement UNGA Resolution 1608 (adopted thanks to 64 YES votes, 23 NO votes and 10 abstentions, granting independence to Southern Cameroons) that is at the root cause of the ongoing crisis in the Cameroons.
Second, may I ask when the United Nations shall do justice by Southern Cameroons? When it shall resolve this crisis by tackling its root cause? The UN witnessed and recorded the opposition of the Republic of Cameroon (when it voted NO under UNGA Resolution 1608, thereby advertising itself as being both against Union with and Independence for Southern Cameroons). Yet, the United Nations imposed a “forced marriage” between what, then and now, is clearly an unwilling and unprepared couple. Or, did the UNGA mean to grant Independence to Southern Cameroons with the right hand (under Resolution 1608) while taking it back with the left (under the recolonization by the Republic of Cameroon? How does an abusive and more powerful neighboring country like the Republic of Cameroon accommodate an independent Southern Cameroons whose Independence the former voted to deny? Could the United Nations guarantee the independence of Kuwait by trusting the annexationist regime that governed Iraq to take care?
Third, you would agree, I hope, that by proceeding as outlined above the United Nations, in effect, violated Article 76(b) of its Charter which reaffirms independence as the inherent and inalienable right of all colonies and Trust Territories (including Southern Cameroons). Why is the United Nations avoiding to address the non existence of a union treaty between the Republic of Cameroon and Southern Cameroons as laid out under Articles 102 and 103 of the United Nations Charter?
Fourth, and given the absence of a union treaty, why is the United Nations not calling out the Republic of Cameroon on its violation, among others, of Article 4(b) of the African Union Constitutive Act on the sanctity of borders inherited from Colonialism? The borders of the Republic of Cameroon were frozen when it achieved independence on 1st January 1960 and Southern Cameroons was not part of that country. Why is the UN unable to evoke its own Resolutions and International Law to remind the Republic of Cameroon that colonialism and, obviously, annexation and recolonization are crimes against humanity? Why is the United Nations not evoking Principles VII, VIII & IX of UNGA Resolution 1541 to help deal with the ongoing crisis in the Cameroons?
Fifth, could I kindly ask the Secretary General to, please, put himself in the shoes of Southern Cameroonians today. Growing up or living in your native Portugal, could the Secretary General consider his country independent and his people sovereign or self-governing if he and his people, among other things, were under the kind of brutish rule by a police force, a gendarmerie, an army, and an administration (at all levels: region, province, town, hamlet and village) which speaks the English language, for example, instead of the language of your people (Portuguese)? This is the yoke the United Nations put on Southern Cameroons by failing to hand over the instruments of sovereignty (independence) to the people of Southern Cameroons whose government was already autonomous from 1954.
Sixth, would the Secretary General consider his native Portugal independent if the legal system in your homeland was from a neighboring country; if it was inspired by the French system, not the law the Portuguese people use? If Portuguese political leaders, trade unionists, lawyers, teachers, journalists, activists and ordinary citizens (all of them civilians) were to be abducted from Portugal, deported to France, for example, and forced to go through torture, detention, awaiting trial and trial before military tribunals using the French language, not Portuguese? Or, if young Portuguese people went through primary and secondary school in Portuguese but had to do university education in English?
Seventh, would the Secretary General’s mother, brother or sister still consider their country independent instead of being under colonial administration and military occupation by a foreign force if the official language of Portugal (Portuguese) was bypassed in official documents in favor of French, for example? If the language used on bank notes (currency), on road signs, etc. were in French, instead of Portuguese, and the preferred language also happens to the official language of the neighboring country?
Would you and your relations call Portugal independent or your country if the Portuguese president and senior government officials spoke English, instead of Portuguese; if they had no choice but to consult a medical doctor or nurse at Government hospitals in English, not Portuguese? If they could only make a case before the judicial police of their country by using French, instead of Portuguese? If nearly six decades of Portuguese history had proven beyond any doubt to them – as it has to Southern Cameroonians – that they are only second class citizens of the country they are forced to also call theirs?
I could go on, but I am sure that the Secretary General gets my drift and, hopefully, understands the kind of linguistic apartheid, economic, cultural and political domination that the colonial government of the Republic of Cameroon has imposed on Southern Cameroons for 56+ years. Our people have been patient these many decades, hoping and working in good faith to make whatever union is claimed to work. However, and as with Nigeria over the 44 years of colonial rule from Lagos which came to an end in 1953 after our representatives walked out of the Eastern House of Assembly, our people have come to one more-than-obvious conclusion: this God forsaken union or whatever it is called will never work.
I am, therefore, writing to add my voice to the millions of Southern Cameroonians who are appealing to the United Nations and the African Union to recognize that the illegal occupation of Southern Cameroons is similar, in many ways, to the annexation and the colonial rule of East Timor by Indonesia.
One fact the Republic of Cameroon is hiding from the UN and the world is this: the Republic of Cameroon seceded from whatever union it claims may have existed between Yaounde and Buea when it unilaterally reverted in April 1984 to the name Yaounde had inherited from colonization on the 1st of January 1960; a full year and nine months before the independence of Southern Cameroons was supposed to be effective on 1st October 1961.
As I have mentioned, a solution exists. However, please, do not listen to those offering what is an unsustainable solution in the form of decentralization or federalism. After 56 years of experimenting with this so-called union; having seen how the Yaounde regime violates Constitutional provisions in order to scrap federalism and seen how 21 years after promising decentralization nothing has been done, the time has come to admit that even the solution of a union of two states, equal in status, won’t work. Initially offered by Yaounde and endorsed by the UN, this once promising solution is impossible today.
In any case, equal in status to Yaounde really means and always meant, as our people have rightly argued all along – first quietly, and then very loudly since last year – “two states, equal in status” really means that not only Yaounde but also Buea has the right to fly its own flag, to run its own government (as it did, although to a very limited extent, until the illegal referendum of May 1972). Two states, equal in status also means Buea that runs its own diplomacy; has its own seat at the United Nations and the African Union; runs its own administration; hires, trains and manages its own security forces and army; etc. As I am sure the Secretary General will agree, such an arrangement as “two states, equal in status” can only be possible if the independence of Southern Cameroons (obtained under UNGA Resolution 1608) is recognized, fully implemented and guaranteed.
The argument put forward by Yaounde that Southern Cameroons used to be a part of the former German Kamerun is an attempt at masking expansionism. More countries than Southern Cameroons were part of that German Kamerun. Shall Yaounde annex these other countries (Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, etc.) once it is successful with absorbing Southern Cameroons? If the United Nations will not allow more expansionism, then why make Southern Cameroons the sacrificial lamb? Who is the United Nations appeasing? Would such appeasement be different from the one which failed to satisfy the expansionist tendencies of Adolf Hitler? Should we expect the Republic of Cameroon to claim Northern Cameroons next?
Besides, and even granting Southern Cameroons was a part of the Republic of Cameroon, would we be the first country to gain independence from an existing country? So many independent countries were once part of another country. The USA was once part of the British Empire. South Sudan was once part of Sudan. Eritrea was once part of Ethiopia. Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau were once part of Portugal. Even the Republic of Cameroon was once part of France!
What is clear, Mr. Secretary General, is that the Sovereign People of Southern Cameroons have now overwhelmingly rejected all the unsustainable solutions of the past. We seek a meaningful solution to the crimes of annexation, illegal military occupation and abusive colonial rule by the Republic of Cameroon. And you, Mr. Secretary General, are in a unique place in history to render justice to Southern Cameroons. The hard work has been done already. UNGA Resolution 1608 is already on the books. All what the UNGA has left to do is to seat Southern Cameroons as a full Member State of the United Nations once its Sovereign People elect a government of their own. The fact that our independence is contested and challenged by the Republic of Cameroon should not cause the UN to revisit the matter as doing so would be yielding to the colonial whims and annexationist caprices of the Republic of Cameroon.
Rather, the UN should reaffirm that no country has had to vote for or obtain independence twice. When the time came for The Gambia to break away from the SeneGambia Confederacy, neither the UN nor Banjul nor Dakar needed to organize another referendum for independence. Neither the UN Security Council nor its General Assembly have to vote anew. The United Nations should simply reaffirm that Southern Cameroons is independent and could only be an integral part of the Republic of Cameroon if they obtained independence together. If Southern Cameroons, as Yaounde claims, is only two of that country’s ten regions, can the colonialists in Yaounde show which other two regions of that country also obtained a vote for independence before the UNGA separately from Yaounde? Which other country of the world had regions of it that needed to seek and obtain independence separately?
The people of Southern Cameroons place their trust in the ability of the United Nations to uphold justice and to defend its own Resolutions. We rest our hope in the United Nations doing for Southern Cameroons what it has done in defense of the independence of Israel despite many decades of protests, contestation and even wars waged by the Palestinian people and parts of the Arab World to subvert the sovereignty of Israel. UNGA Resolution 181 has to have the same force of law as UNGA Resolution 1608, unless the United Nations is sending a loud message to the peoples of the United Nations that all peoples are equal, but some people are more equal than others.
Ntumfoyn Boh Herbert (Yindo Toh)
Spokesperson, Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons (MoRISC)
On the web at www.morisc.org