The war in “Kamerun” pitting the minority English-speaking people of former British Southern Cameroon and the French-speaking Cameroon or La Republique du Cameroun, declared by its 86-year-old president is in its second year. The atrocities committed mostly by the central government of Paul Biya, based in Yaoundé, have seen minimal scrutiny like other conflicts in Africa for several reasons:
Firstly, the government of 87-year-old Paul Biya has punitively restricted both national and international media from venturing to report the atrocities.
Secondly, the government has embarked on an aggressive global misinformation and lobbying campaign, even when the evidences are overwhelming. This began with doling out golden statues to some influential global leaders like the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (Click here), Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland (click here), worth about $4 million. This partially explains why these leaders have been mum on the atrocities committed by the French-speaking government. France and the Francophonie have cooked up a narrative of dismissing the atrocities thus emboldening Paul Biya.
Thirdly, the West has put up no concrete action to force the regime of one of Africa’s oldest and most brutal dictators to engage in concrete dialogue to seek solutions that respect the historical origin of this conflict.
The absence of this global pressure has allowed the government of La Republique du Cameroun, to carry out mass Atrocity Crimes – Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and Genocide. The International Criminal Court defines these crimes as follows:
Crimes Against Humanity: A serious criminal act committed within the context of a “widespread and systematic attack directed against a civilian population”. A crime against humanity can occur during war or peace, and can include murder, rape, slavery, persecution, extermination, and torture.
War Crimes: Serious criminal acts committed within the context of an “armed conflict”: a resort to armed force between states. They can also be committed in a civil war. The criminal act must be related to the armed conflict, so a murder or a theft during a war but unrelated to the war is not a “war crime”. A war crime can be many different things, from illegal seizure of property to attacking civilian objects to using prohibited gases.
Genocide: Act committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. It can include killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group. It can also include deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, or imposing measures to prevent births. Genocide can happen during war or peace. (Read more on the ICC here).
The global powers have shied away from the word Genocide for fear of the implications – intervention (militarily). The U.S Ambassador to Cameroon, Henry Balerin, as the sole diplomat horrified by the atrocities has attempted to walk this fine line by describing it as “targeted killings of anglophones” :
These “targeted killings” are evident in the killings and burning mostly in rural areas in English-speaking Cameroon, where the French-Speaking population is unlikely to be present. However, there are overwhelming evidence of genocide. These incorporates asking entire villages to leave or be exterminated, calling English-speaking people dogs or terrorists (Click here), scorching entire communities (Click here),killing of innocent civilians (and justifying their extermination with fake Dane guns), mass raping (Click here) and purposeful humiliation like asking citizens to swim in mud, (Click here)among others.
These crimes have largely been under-reported by organizations that governments around the world depend on for informed decisions such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Genocide Watch among others. These organizations that are still to independently and thoroughly investigate these killings continue to use fake figures from the government of Cameroun that has no credibility in the eyes of its own subjects, talk less of the global community. Despite social media evidence of these crimes, the continuous use of these fake figures have helped to an extent to reduce the conflict to a courtyard feud of two kids, thus providing cover for the continuous extermination of the English-speaking population with no remorse. Bold face lies of recent by the French-speaking Cameroun government include denial of its soldiers executing innocent women and children in the Northern part of the country (BBC, Click here), denial of killings of men-of-God among others (Read more at globalgong website)
The Ten Stages of Genocide
By Gregory H. Stanton, President, of Genocide Watch, and how they apply to British Southern Cameroon (Ambazonia)
Classification, Symbolization, Discrimination, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation, Persecution, Extermination, Denial
1. CLASSIFICATION: All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi.
In the case of the Kamerun, you have the Francophones and Anglophones or French vs English-Speaking.
2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to dehumanization. When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups: the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule.
British Cameroonians are routinely called Les Biafres or Biafras from Nigeria. They are also called dogs and cockroaches by administrators and other French Cameroun people and officials.
3. DISCRIMINATION: A dominant group uses law, custom, and political power to deny the rights of other groups. The powerless group may not be accorded full civil rights or even citizenship.
Pertaining to British Cameroon, since both countries came together in 1961, the majority French-speaking government has used the above steps to deny the minority English-speaking people political leadership. In 1975, the constitution was changed to ensure a successor to the presidency was the French-speaking Prime minister, not the vice president who at that time was an anglophone. This paved the way for Amadou Ahidjo to resign and be replaced by Paul Biya, the Prime Minister instead of John Ngu Foncha, the British Southern Cameroonian, who was then Vice President. In 1992, Ni John Fru Ndi, a British Southern Cameroonian won the presidency, but was robbed of the victory by France and French-Cameroon. Many francophone Camerounians have categorically said a British Cameroonian will never rule the country referring to them as , “Les enemies dans la maison” (Enemies in the house). The current crisis started as a call for laws de-legitimizing the anglophone system of education, laws and culture to be re-examined. However, the French-speaking majority did not see it as an issue, since they are at the Giving and not the Receiving end of the laws they create.
4. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the victim group.
British Southern Cameroonians are called by French-speaking appointed governors dogs (click here) . French-Cameroun Journalists openly call English-speaking people in Cameroun cockroaches, and even pleading with the president to “neutralize” them. Mr. Paul Biya and other senior French Cameroun officials call anglophones who dissent with the current system “terrorists, secessionists etc “.
5. ORGANIZATION: Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur). Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal killings
In the case of the British Southern Cameroon, it is the state through its U.S-trained presidential militias called the BIR. Local Fulanis are also supplied with weapons. Special squads are armed by the government to invade and kill just British Southern Cameroonians they deem unfit to live.
The government equally started by asking for the people of the region to surrender part of their ancestral culture – Dane guns. Raids were organized to seize these Dane guns which have been part and parcel of the peoples’ heritage pre-dating German colonization. These cache of weapons were then used to deny culpability for the genocide by tagging the innocent Southern Cameroonians killed as the perpetrator. Innocent civilians killed are then tagged with the guns or a talisman, and photos taken to deceive the world, while the Dane guns are taken away for more similar acts elsewhere. No killed corpse has been retrieved with a Dane gun by families, even though the French-Cameroun military paraded their corpses on the media with Dane guns.
6. POLARIZATION: Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, intimidating and silencing the center.
French- Cameroun embarked on a policy of arresting and torturing civilians including even trade union leaders. Journalists like Ernest Obama
of Vision 4 TV and his colleague Jean Jacques Zé, referred to protesting British Southern Cameroonians as ‘rats and cockroaches. The government was thus called upon to eliminate these pests (read more).
7. PREPARATION: National or perpetrator group leaders plan the “Final Solution” to the Jewish, Armenian, Tutsi or other targeted group “question.” They often use euphemisms to cloak their intentions, such as referring to their goals as “ethnic cleansing,” “purification,” or “counter-terrorism.” They build armies, buy weapons and train their troops and militias. They indoctrinate the populace with fear of the victim group. Leaders often claim that “if we don’t kill them, they will kill us.”
The leader of French-Cameroun, Paul Biya declares war on British Southern Cameroonians, calling them terrorists, secessionists and promises to eliminate them. He also offers condolences to some French Cameroun soldiers killed in the peaceful uprising despite thousands of British Southern Cameroonians killed by his soldiers. A clear indication that British Cameroonians are sub-humans, thus good for extinction. His appointed authorities in British Cameroon also forced villagers to leave or be eliminated. Many are now refugees in Nigeria. Many who could not relocate were killed.
8. PERSECUTION: Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. In state sponsored genocide, members of victim groups may be forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is often expropriated. Sometimes they are even segregated into ghettos, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved. Genocidal massacres begin. They are acts of genocide because they intentionally destroy part of a group.
French-speaking persons mistakenly arrested are freed while the British Southern Cameroonians are killed. Food crops are destroyed, and cultural activities banned as well. Many are killed with chemicals and burnt or buried in mass graves to conceal evidence. There is a deliberate Torch Warfare, in which only rural areas where British Southern Cameroonians live are torched. Townships where few French-speaking citizens are likely to be are not destroyed.
9. EXTERMINATION begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human. When it is sponsored by the state, the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing. Sometimes the genocide results in revenge killings by groups against each other, creating the downward whirlpool-like cycle of bilateral genocide (as in Burundi). At this stage, only rapid and overwhelming armed intervention can stop genocide.
In the case of the British Southern Cameroon, the killings have been ignored by the West because of their oil interest. More than 12000 have been killed with more than 9000 homes burnt or destroyed by French Cameroun military, staunchly supported by France and the UK. Despite the overwhelming evidence of abuses, the UK pumps in $1.5B for oil and gas to French Cameroun. These resources it should be noted are all located in the British Southern Cameroon, whose people are being killed.
10. DENIAL is the final stage that lasts throughout and always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power by force, when they flee into exile.
The French-Cameroun government of 86-year-old Biya, has continued to deny, deny and deny the genocide, at the same time refusing any independent investigation of the killings from journalists and organizations such as Human Rights Watch etc.
The French-Cameroun authorities use words like territorial integrity, “sovereign nation” etc to scare the international community, while the genocide continues. They are equivocally supported by the western allies like the UK and France.