Published On: Mon, Jan 2nd, 2017

The silence and complicity of the fons

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Tensions have been brewing for the past month in Cameroon’s two anglophone regions, where people say they are being treated as second-class citizens.

What began as protests by lawyers against the use of French in courts quickly spread to schools and universities after teachers agreed to strike over the dominance of the French language.

In Bamenda, the country’s largest anglophone city, at least ten people were killed when security forces fired live ammunition in the air and launched teargas into a market despite no evidence that there was a protest taking place.

Amnesty International described actions as “excessive and unnecessary”, and urged the Cameroonian government to find out who was responsible.

Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty’s central Africa researcher, said: “Responding to incidents of violence during protests with unnecessary or excessive force threatens to further inflame an already tense situation and could put more lives at risk.”

Local journalists say they have been harassed by the authorities and that the plight of local communities has not been given coverage by state-controlled media. On Monday, Zigoto Tchaya, a reporter working for France 24, was arrested and held for a day after he interviewed Barrister Bobga, a prominent activist based in Bamenda.

The traditional leaders has been known to be the custodian of the rights of the people in Western Cameroon. The silence during this trying times smacks of complicity. Reports reaching us suggest that some has given up their people in exchange for a few pieces of silver. But they should be reminded of this poem, written by an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

For the love of money or fear for their safety, they have chosen silence. Let be known that when their turn comes, they will all be on their own.


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