The Anglophone citizens of Southern Cameroon, who comprise 1/3 of the country’s population, have historically felt marginalized by the French-speaking government of the Republic of Cameroon. Anglophone Cameroonians accuse the government of discriminating against them in matters of governance of the country, and claim that the government is forcing the French language on English-speakers at school, at the courts, and in government offices, in spite of the fact that English is one of the official languages of the country. Over the past year, protests have increased, culminating in recent violent clashes.
Call for Independence
Southern Cameroon joined French Cameroon to become the Federal Republic of Cameroon on October 1, 1961. In protest of the current situation in the nation, the people of Southern Cameroon symbolically declared their independence from the Republic of Cameroon on October 1, 2017, resulting in numerous protests and violence. President Biya is, however, against the division of the country into two regions.
Violation of Human Rights
The English-speaking minority is accusing the government of carrying out acts against human rights in the Anglophone region of the country made up of the Northwest and Southwest provinces. The government of the Republic of Cameroon, under the leadership of President Biya, has been accused of killing those who do not agree with it through the use of police force. In recent days, human rights organizations have put the conflict-related death toll at over 100, though the Cameroonian government’s official count of deaths is 17. Police have been called out for the use of excessive force and for using live bullets against demonstrators. Earlier this year, the government also shut down the internet in the Anglophone region for three months, causing residents to accuse the government of infringing on their right to information while curtailing their freedom of speech. Now, online communications have been cut once again in the region. On the basis of anonymity, health workers have reported attending to persons with gunshot wounds. The people of Southern Cameroon are therefore calling on the United Nations to intervene so as that they can gain their independence from the Republic of Cameroon. Some of the groups that have demonstrated against the government include teachers, students, lawyers, traders, and transporters. The UN has responded, condemning the violence in the region, and “call[ing] on the Cameroonian authorities to investigate these incidents” and asking “political leaders on both sides to appeal to their followers to refrain from any further acts of violence.”