Karawa Diary learned from the guardian that International organisations are calling for an investigation in Cameroon after four people were killed during unrest in the country’s English-speaking regions.
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 four people were killed last week 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.
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.
Nearly 200 miles south of Bamenda in Kumba – Cameroon’s second biggest English-speaking city – schools, markets and transport systems ground to a halt last week as angry residents took to the streets.
“Southern Cameroonians do not benefit anything from the French Cameroon. We want this to end this year,” said Enow John, who had joined the protest. Fellow protester Ni Achu said the movement was “ready to die for the future of our children”.
Both Britain and France controlled parts of Cameroon until 1961, when it gained independence and became a single country split into 10 semi-autonomous administrative regions.
Eight are francophone and adhere to French civil law. The remaining two regions function under British common law, but anglophone Cameroonians say their regions are underdeveloped and marginalised by the central government, operating from the mainly French-speaking capital, Yaoundé.
“The 1998 law on the orientation of education clearly says that the two sub-systems of education are independent and autonomous,” said Tassang Wilfred, the secretary general of the teachers’ trade union in Cameroon. “[But] the French system of education is the majority and has been trying to wipe out our system of education, and that means wiping out our own cultural heritage.”
The protesters have been using Facebook and Twitter to organise. Cameroonian musician Sama Ndango said online platforms served to amplify their voices. “We have social media on our side – we are bigger than any government,” Ndango wrote on Facebook.
Last week many shared a shocking video of female students having their faces rubbed in the mud by police in the town of Buea, also in the south-west. Others shared videos of police beating up students in their dorms at the town’s university.
At least 100 people have been arrested for taking part in demonstrations since they began almost a month ago.
The unrest is a rare act of defiance against President Paul Biya, whose Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party has dominated politics since independence.
The president is yet to comment publicly on the protests. A close aide, Atanga Nji Paul, sparked fury last week when he denied that there was any problem with discrimination against English-speaking Cameroonians.