Although “Silencing the Guns” marked the theme for the African Union’s (AU) 2020 summit, the world’s deathly silence surrounding Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis has impacted almost 3 million and displaced over 700,000 people. (1)
At the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 2013, African leaders pledged to end wars and prevent genocide on the continent by 2020. Through this flagship project under Agenda 2063, they vowed “to achieve the goal of a conflict-free Africa, to make peace a reality for all our people and to rid the continent of wars, civil conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian disasters, and violent conflicts and to prevent genocide.”
Yet the emergence and escalation of the Anglophone Crisis since 2016 proves that the OAU has failed their mission and, more importantly, the people they promised to protect. For two consecutive years, Cameroon has topped the Norwegian Refugee Council’s list as the world’s most neglected displacement crisis. This is primarily due to a lack of media attention, funding, and political neglect both domestically and internationally. For an overview of the origins of the Anglophone crisis and recent human rights abuses, please see Annex A below.
Requests to the African Union
The African Peace and Security Council works to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts. Therefore, this petition calls upon the African Union Peace and Security Council to convene immediately to address the Anglophone Crisis as a top priority, intervene to enforce peace in the name of human rights, and address the demands of the people of the NW and SW regions.
On behalf of Justice For Cameroon, a youth-led organization that seeks to spread awareness about the Anglophone Crisis, and the signatories of this petition, we respectfully request that the African Union Peace and Security Council take the following actions:
- Call for a ceasefire in Cameroon, create an environment for inclusive dialogue, and moderate such a discussion between opposing parties;
- Draft a resolution to enforce peace in the name of human rights;
- Offer the assistance of A.U. peacekeeping forces to the Northwest and Southwest regions, and if granted, deploy troops under Chapter VII of the UN Charter;
- Urge multilateral participation to apply economic and political pressure and press for a ceasefire, such as the U.S.’s Resolution 684 and European Parliament’s 2019 Resolution 2691; and
- Create a task force for NGOs and civil societies on the ground actively working to meet the needs of at-risk individuals in the NW and SW regions.
Recent Human Rights Abuses During the Anglophone Crisis
- February 14, 2020: Ngarbuh Massacre (Key event)
Cameroon government forces and an ethnic Fulani militia attacked Ngarbuh Village, located in the Northwest region. The forces tortured and killed residents, set their dead bodies on fire, burned their homes, and threatened their return. The attack resulted in 21 dead, which included a pregnant woman and 13 children
- March 1, 2020: At Least 20 Women Raped During Military Assault
An attack by Cameroonian soldiers in which soldiers raped at least 20 women, including four with disabilities, arrested 35 men, and killed one man, Human Rights Watch said the attack on the village of Ebam in the South-West region was one of the worst by Cameroon’s army in recent years.
- June 2, 2020: Announcement of Samuel Wazizi Death
It was reported that Pidgin journalist, Samuel Wazizi, had died at a military hospital after being tortured by Cameroonian soldiers. Wazizi had been arrested on August 3, 2019 in Buea over alleged ties with separatists, which he had denied. This death was concealed by the military for 10 months.
- August 11, 2020: Beheading of Civilian
A video emerged of a woman being tortured and beheaded by armed men in Muyuka. The act was met with widespread condemnation from human rights agencies, as well as from the major separatist movements.
- October 24, 2020: Kumba Massacre (Key event)
Armed men entered Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, killed 7 children, and injured many more.
- January 10, 2021: Mautu Massacre
Cameroonian soldiers invaded Mautu, Muyuka and killed at least nine civilians. Human rights groups and France condemned the act and called for an investigation, while the Cameroonian Army denied having massacred civilians, claiming that all the dead were separatists and that images of dead civilians had been collected by separatists from elsewhere.
- January 23, 2021: Four children killed in Bamenda
Cameroonian soldiers killed four children in Bamenda. The military later falsely claimed that the victims were separatist fighters.
- February 14, 2021: Torturing of civilian
In Ndu, soldiers were videotaped torturing a civilian to near death.
This list is not exhaustive but demonstrates the severity of the Anglophone Crisis. More documented instances of human rights abuses committed during the Anglophone Crisis can be found in this report which documents crimes against humanity and in the database of atrocities.
Key Events Leading to the Anglophone Crisis
- 1919: Overthrow of the German administration in Cameroon during World War I, France and Britain received the partitioned area as League of Nations mandates.
- 1960: French Cameroon gained independence; when British Cameroon achieved independence, it was given the option to join Nigeria or join French Cameroon.
- October 1961: The southern part of British Cameroon joined French Cameroon on a federated basis, under a plebiscite coordinated by the UN; the two areas unified as the Federal Republic of Cameroon.
- May 20, 1972: A national referendum coordinated by the sole political party at the time dissolved the federation and led to the formation of a unitary state.
- The Anglophone regions lost autonomy, and in the following years, the majority-Francophone government eroded Anglophone identity and systems through their attempt to assimilate the Anglophone people through politics and policies, currency, education, the legal system, and so on.
- 2016: Tensions escalated when teachers and lawyers peacefully protested against the marginalization of the Anglophones in the educational and legal systems.
- As the protests continued, the government security forces responded with violent force against the demonstrators.
- Since then, the deadly conflict between the government forces and the secessionist forces of the self-declared nation of Ambazonia continues to plague the people of the Southern Cameroons.
- October 1, 2017: Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front (SCACUF) made a declaration of restored independence for Southern Cameroon, renamed Ambazonia.
- November 30, 2017: Cameroonian government declared war against Ambazonian secessionists.