Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS urges an end to the pervasive crackdown against English speaking Cameroonians as three respected civil society members - Barrister Felix Agbor Balla, Dr Fontem Neba and Mancho Bibixy - are due to appear before a Military Tribunal in the capital Yaoundé on 23 March 2017.
“These three activists are facing a suite of highly questionable accusations including hostility against the government, secession, civil war, propagation of false information, collective resistance and incitement to take up arms for simple acts of peaceful protest,” said Mandeep Tiwana from CIVICUS. “We urge the Cameroonian government to end this judicial farce and engage in dialogue to end the political crisis facing the country.”
Barrister Felix Agbor Balla and Dr Fontem Neba are the President and Secretary General respectively of CACSC, a network of civil society organisations, unions and citizens of Anglophone Cameroon advocating for and seeking dialogue around the rights of English speaking Cameroonians. They were arbitrarily arrested on 17 January 2017 and have been detained at the Kondengui Central Prison in the capital Yaoundé since then. Civil society activist Mancho Bibixy was arrested in Bamenda, North West Region shortly after mid-night on 19 January 2016.
Since October 2016 citizens, lawyers and teachers’ unions of Anglophone Cameroon have stepped up their efforts to raise concerns over the suppression of the identity of Anglophone Cameroon. They are calling for a review of the imposition of civil law practices and civil law trained judges in courts which have common law tradition, as well as raised concerns about the challenges faced by teachers, students and civil servants in Anglophone Cameroon.
Over the last six months, the South West and North West regions have been heavily militarised to prevent the exercise of democratic rights. Hundreds of activists and ordinary citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, physically assaulted and tortured as part of an ongoing crackdown. There are reports on deaths in detention and enforced disappearances. Since 17 January 2017, an internet and media blackout has been imposed in the South West and North West Regions which are the only two Anglophone territories in the country.
Kumi Naidoo, launch director of the Africans Rising Movement which recently conducted a fact finding mission to the country has expressed “deep disappointment at the largely deafening silence of the African Union, Commonwealth, Francophonie and the UN, while more than five million people face an internet and cellular communications blockade and have clearly been subjected to an excessive security crackdown in response to mostly peaceful protests.”
CIVICUS urges the international community to engage Cameroon’s government to release imprisoned civil society activists and ordinary citizens, restore democratic rights and urgently resolve the political crisis facing the country.
Cameroon is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.
For more information, please contact:
Policy and Research Head at CIVICUS,
Tel: 0027 11 833 5959