Update: UNPO Deeply Condemns the Violence in the Anglophone Region of Southern Cameroons
In the early week of October 2017, multiple civilians were killed following demonstrations calling for the independence of Southern Cameroons organised by the country’s Anglophone population. The Francophone Government rejects the calls for a referendum, while their military personnel are positioned within the area of Southern Cameroons trying to suppress protesters.
Photo courtesy of User:Lambisc (Wikimedia Commons)
The State of Ambazonia, also formerly known as British Southern Cameroons, makes up around 15% of the Cameroon population and is predominantly English speaking. Since their independence from Britain, they have struggled for their right to be an independent state, wherein they can freely express their culture and language. They have joined the Republic of Cameroon in 1961 on the quest for unity between both former colonies. Instead of unity, they have been marginalized and violently oppressed by the Francophone Government of the Republic of Cameroon.
The urge to be an independent state has increased drastically over the years. The Anglophone population does not see themselves or their language included in institutional and administrative matters. After lawyers and teachers have called for reforms in October 2016, schools and business started to close down and the people of the Southern Cameroons have taken their frustration on to the streets. Against the growing claims for self-determination, the Government shut down the internet in various regions, as well as arrested many on counts of terrorism charges. In the wake of these ongoing protests, in the early week of October 2017 the people of the Southern Cameroons declared themselves independent by marching for recognition and hissing the blue and white flag of their Ambazonian state. Their movement was countered with the military using excessive force against protesters, unlawfully killing at least 17 people, as reported by Amnesty International, while wounding many more.
The UNPO strongly condemns the use of violence by military forces against the protesters in the Anglophone part of Cameroon and calls upon the international community to pressure Yaoundé to fulfil its human rights obligation in protecting minority rights.
Starting with new waves of violence in October 2017, the human rights situation in the Anglophone part of Cameroon has deteriorated. Thousands have fled to the neighbouring country of Nigeria, to seek refuge. As the UNHCRs spokesperson Babar Baloch has reported more than 40.000 people are expected to cross the border in search for humanitarian assistance, as the conflict may continue. Further, on 6 January 2018, members of the Movement for the independence of Southern Cameroonians have been arrested in Nigeria, with them the leader Sisiku Tabe. Unrests have followed in some parts of Cameroon over the arrests, the Dailypost.ng reported.