THE DISCRIMINATORY BANNING OF SCNC & CACSC AND THE HARASSMENT & MISTREATMENT OF SCNC MEMBERS BY LA REPUBLIQUE DU CAMEROUN
By Siencheu Achille Lele
The Anglophone crisis came to light in October 2016 when Anglophone lawyers and teachers led protests demanding the integrity of their professional institutions to be protected but government of La Republique du Cameroun responded by arresting, detaining and torturing protesters.
In January 2017, denizens from the Southern and Northern Zones of Southern Cameroons, had intensified their fight against injustice because they were and are still treated like second class citizens in their country through discrimination, marginalization and annexation by our neighbours La Republique Du Cameroun since 1961. The Southern and Northern zones of Southern Cameroons were indeed in a ghost era. The people of Southern Cameroons have had enough, Southern Cameroonians have made efforts for this union between La Republique du Cameroon and Southern Cameroons to work but to no avail, instead we were marginalized, our daughters, sisters and mothers raped, our villages burn, our farms destroyed, lawyers and teachers abducted, making us live in fear, telling us that Cameroon is one and indivisible. But groups such as the Southern Cameroons National Council ( SCNC ) and Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium ( CACSC ) which are the voice of the people, the people’s guide and hope were big threat to the government of La Republique du Cameroun ( LRC ) as Southern Cameroonians start demanding for their independence to be restored, this put fear on the La Republique du Cameroun , instead of solving the problems they acted by imposing a ban on SCNC AND CACSC on the 17th of January 2017.
January 2017, Camerounese state broadcaster during its 5:00pm (17h:00) announced (in breaking news) that the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC aka the Consortium) and Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) have been disbanded
According to the news presenter, the Ministry of Administration and Territorial Integration (MINADT), is ordering the cease-from-existence of the SCNC and The Consortium. The reasons attributed to the banning were that, the two groups are fuelling hate and terrorist tendencies in Southern Cameroons.
Rene Emmanuel Sadi, The Former Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Now minister of communication who issued the ban, noted in the Ban documents as follows ;
1) The groups SCNC and CACSC ( The Consortium ) “are declared null and void for their purpose and activities which are contrary to the Constitution and liable to jeopardize the security of the state, territorial integrity, national unity and national integration.”
2) All activities, meetings and demonstrations initiated or promoted by the SCNC and CACSC , any other related groups with similar objectives or by anyone partisan to these groups, are hereby prohibited all over the national territory
3) Defaulties of the prohibited order referred to in article 2 cited above , shall be liable to legal proceedings in conformity with the law and regulations in force.
4) The Regional Governors, Senior divisional officers and Sun divisional officers are responsible for the strict application of this order which shall be registered and published according to the procedure of urgency
Everyone was talking about the breaking news. Social Media was at its highest peak regarding this Ban.
Though it was a bitter pill to swallow, and another salt added to the injury of the already aggrieved Southern Cameroons population when news broke out that Barrister Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla, Leader of the Consortium, alongside, Dr. Fontem Neba, Secretary General of the Consortium, have both been arrested. The battle line had been drawn. The La Republique du Cameroun government as an Oppressor instead of dialogues with Southern Cameroons leaders to look for a way forward they continue shooting and arresting our people, the worries of our teachers and lawyers were ignored and the government of La Republique du Cameroun (LRC), ordered Internet shutdown in the two Anglophone regions
SCNC is a group advocating for self determination aiming at obtaining independence for the former British Southern Cameroons. It is a non violent and a non political group of activists with its motto; ” The Force of Argument Not The Argument Of Force”
The Cameroonian government has deemed the SCNC illegal. The “harassment” of SCNC members and indicates that they are denied the right to “freedom of association. La Republique government refused to grant the SCNC permission to hold rallies and meetings thus meetings in both public and private properties are prohibited, since 2013 there have been constant disruption of SCNC meetings by La Republique authorities. However when organizations pressed La Republique government on complaints by SCNC members that they were constantly harassed, arrested, detained and prosecuted for holding meetings, the authorities responded that this was because the party was not legally constituted or recognized, how pathetic does that sound giving that La Republique were refusing at first the harassment, arrests, detaining and prosecution of SCNC members
Amnesty International reports that, in its decision adopted during its 45th Ordinary Session held in Banjul, Gambia, in May 2009, the [African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights] found that the government of Cameroon had violated a number of the Articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the actions it took against SCNC’s members. The Commission found that the government of Cameroon had violated Article 2 (discrimination against people of Southern Cameroon), Article 4 (violation of the right to life during violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations), Article 5 (torture), Article 7 (right to a fair trial within reasonable time), Article 11 (right to assemble freely), Article 19 (right to equality of all people) and Article 26 (duty to guarantee the independence of the courts). The Commission also concluded that Cameroon had violated Article 1 of the ACHPR by failing to “adopt adequate measures to give effect to the provisions of the African Charter.” (Jan. 2013, 22)
Several sources report arrests and/or mistreatment of SCNC members and activists
> On 8 August 2013, the SCNC reported the arrest and detention of 83 SCNC activists at a meeting, and indicated that the house in which the meeting was held was searched and “ransacked” (SCNC 8 Aug. 2013).
>On 2 August 2013, over 70 SCNC members were arrested by gendarmes and police forces while attending a meeting in Kumbo, and were “detained and tortured”
>In February 2011, La Republique authorities arrested Chief Ayamba Ette Otun and other SCNC members, they were arrested for “circulating tracts calling for the independence of Southern Cameroons and warning the government against the mistreatment of Southern Cameroonians”
>On 1 October 2012, in Buea, SCNC leaders and activists were “brutalized” during a mass in a Catholic church and more than 100 SCNC members were arrested that day
>Amnesty International (AI) reports “judicial harassment” of SCNC members (Jan. 2013, 23), including the trial of “several dozen” SCNC members “arrested in 2008 and charged with holding illegal meetings and failing to produce identity cards” AI says that “the accused had appeared in court on more than 30 occasions but the trial was adjourned each time because of the failure of the prosecution to present witnesses or the absence of court officials, including presiding judges”.
>In May 2007, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advised that an individual could be served with a court summons, known in Cameroon as a Convocation, if found to be carrying a SCNC membership card. The DFAT report also States that it is likely that the La Republique government maintain a list of individuals wanted for arrest due to their SCNC membership as opposed to their position within the SCNC ( https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/scnc.htm)
>The US Department Of State on the Human Rights Practices 2008 – Cameroon reports that SCNC is illegal and that individuals found to be participating in SCNC meetings have been arrested. The report states that ” during the year security forces preemptively arrested approximately 40 leaders, members and supporters of SCNC to prevent them from participating in unauthorized political meetings “. ( https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/scnc.htm)
> Jacques Franquin , a representative of United Nation High Commission For Refugees ( UNHCR ) in Cameroon stated that in 2004 that SCNC members had faced harassment and inhuman treatment by the police.
>Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, was abducted in neighbouring Nigeria with the complicity of the Nigerian government and extradited to Cameroon in January 2018 along with 46 others and held incommunicado for months
The La Republique govrnment of Cameroun has gone as far as threatening Cable TV providers. They have been told they will be sanctioned if they do not stop broadcasting the South Africa-based channel, Southern Cameroons Broadcasting Corporation (SCBC)
The SCNC, air programmes about the history and culture of the Anglophone region, as well as interviews with exiled lawyers and documentaries about human rights abuses in Cameroon. The former communications Minister Issa Tchiroma accused the channel of broadcasting seditious and hateful programmes, adding that it is being used as propaganda tool for an outlawed political movement. The government of La Republique has tried and failed to persuade the South African authorities to stop SCBC broadcasts, unfortunately for La Republique government, South Africa is not like the corrupt government of President Buhari of Nigeria who expedited Southern Cameroons leaders who were asylum seekers unlawfully into La Republique du Cameroun where they were detained incommunicado for several months
We have battled the injustice force upon us by France and LRC for 56 years, so if the international Community thinks we are now ready to let go at this juncture, it is mistaken. If the UN, EU, Commonwealth, AU and British governments want to stop a bloodbath in Southern Cameroon’s then THE TIME IS NOW, not tomorrow. Every one of us , 8 million Ambazonians will be killed before our territory will be made part of Cameroun again.
This our Generation of Southern Cameroonians; We are ready to correct the mistake of our forefathers. We are the Generation of “The Coffin Revolution” of Mancho Bibixy . We are the “Never Again Generation” ( Bullets versus Social Media) of Mark Bareta . We are the Generation of “The Wirba Force” (Honorable Wirba Joseph)
WE WILL “LIVE FREE OR DIE”
Written By SCNC Activist Siencheu Achille Lele