Harassed, Humiliated, Ordered to Speak French: Anglophones Targeted in Military Raids in Yaounde
Scores of people have been arrested in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde following military raids that took place in some neighborhoods on Saturday June 27.
The raids came in the wake of what looked like coordinated explosions that occurred June 22 at the Melen and Emana neighborhoods in Yaounde.
Then in a June 23 message by the Secretary of State to the Minister of Defense in charge of the National Gendarmerie, Yves Landry Etoga, security forces were instructed to carry out day and night security checks in taxis in a bit to track down possible suspects.
They were asked to carryout body checks in taxis for the drivers and passengers, search handbags, car boots, seat covers to name but these ones, in search of firearms, drugs and explosive devices.
Police authorities have however recommended that the above operation takes place without any disturbance or harassment on the part of security forces.
But that warning was flouted Saturday. Raids by a mix of Gendarmes, Military and Police in the Melen and Etoug-Ebe neighborhoods-mostly inhabited by English-Speaking people from the once Independent State of Southern Cameroons once again demonstrated why Anglophones in the current dispensation feel like a subjugated people. (The YouTube link below shows hundreds of Southern Cameroonians forced to sit on the bare ground)
“It was at about 5am. I was still asleep when I heard a knock at the door. I thought these were thieves,” taxi driver, Maxwell Fonkem tells Timescape.
“Before I could figure out what to do, they broke in and started ransacking my house. It was so scary,” he said.
They found nothing incriminating in Maxwell’s house, but that was not enough, not to arrest him. He was taken to the 5th District Public Security Police Station.
Fonkem had to pay 10,000 CFA F, the equivalence of about USD20 (for no apparent reason) in order to regain his freedom.
Forced to speak French
While there are thousands of Cameroonians who for no reason are arrested and must bribe the police to regain their freedom, Saturday’s behaviour by the security forces towards the English-speakers from the once Independent State of Southern Cameroons revealed other disquieting realities.
Moki Edwin Kindzeka, a journalist with the state broadcaster, CRTV said he was stopped and harassed by the police ,and “they muster the courage to ask me to speak only in the French language,” the journalist recounted on social media.
Moki Edwin Kindzeka also reports fro VOA and Deusch Welle (C) Noms et Visage de Presse- Wordpress.com
“These guys should not molest people just because they speak the English language,” Moki adds, before sending the security forces a rather cryptic message:
“Tell them. Tell them that I cannot be asked to sit on the floor by some unknown and unkempt individuals looking like hoodlums.
Tell them, tell them that I still think the Cameroon police force can be respected, unless they want me to trust and believe what others have trusted and believed.
Tell them. Tell them that I am of sincere service to the nation Cameroon and that only people of doubtful origins may want to treat me the way they abusively treat people they think are suspects.
Tell them that I want to see he who will muster enough courage to drive my car, forcefully stopped at Etoudi to wherever he thinks he wants to do justice. Tell them all my credentials are intact.”
The Cameroon Association of English –Speaking journalists has through its tweeter handle condemned the harassment of the journalist.
“Cameroon Police harassed our member, Moki Edwin Kindzeka today in Yaounde. He was ordered to speak only in French. We condemn this act in the strongest terms and demand an apology,” CAMASEJ said.
Two Peoples, Two Countries, Two Destinies
The order to speak only French underlines Cameroon’s deep historical divide which is at the origin of a separatist uprising that has so far killed about 12,000 people, with more than a million forced from their homes.
About 80 per cent of the country speaks French; the rest speaks English. For decades, the people of the once Independent State of Southern Cameroons have complained about marginalization, attempts at assimilation and a deliberate attempt to erode their culture, their legal and educational systems.
Then the pent-up frustrations erupted in 2016 when teachers of Southern Cameroons origin and lawyers took to the streets in peaceful protests over the use of French in their schools and courts.
Government took a hardline, employing lethal force in a desperate attempt to silence the dissent and calls for a return to the federal arrangement that brought the once Independent State of Southern Cameroons and La République du Cameroun together into of union of two states equal in status.
The government’s use of force has driven a growing number of moderate Southern Cameroonians to throw their support behind the armed separatists, and so a rising number of Cameroon’s English speakers are now asking for the restoration of the independence of their country, with plans to rename it “Ambazonia.”