Akere Muna Writes UN Secretary General, Raises Alarm on Urgent Humanitarian Crisis in Ambazonia
Presidential candidate in the 2018 Presidential Elections in La Republique du Cameroun (LRC), and former Member and Chairperson of the eminent Persons Panel of the African Peer Review Mechanism, Ambazonian born Barrister Akere Muna, has alerted the UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutiérrez, of an urgent humanitarian crisis in Ambazonia.
In a letter dated Monday May 14, 2018 and addressed to the UNSG, the legal luminary, presented a brief narrative of the evolution of the present conflict between LRC and the Federal Republic of Ambazonia. He blames the colonial regime for the escalation, through its mismanagement of the cultural identity and customs of the people in her colony of Southern Cameroons.
He further accused the colonial terrorist forces of LRC for meting out collective punishment on the people of Ambazonia, where its personnel are alleged to have been killed by restoration forces. This according to him, contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Cameroon is a state-party.
Akere Muna, notes in his letter that the situation has let to the radicalization of the Ambazonian people, leading to increasing calls for retaliatory collective punishment, and an increase in the propagation of hate speeches. He blames both sides, and particularly single out the statement by Comrade Chris Anu, Secretary of State for Communications and ICT, of the Interim Government of Ambazonia in which LRC citizens have been given latest May ending to leave the territory of Ambazonia and vice versa.
It is important to note that Akere Muna, recently called for the arrest of Comrade Chris Anu, the Secretary of Communications and ICT of the Interim Government of Ambazonia, for his utterances, which the Barrister considers as hate speech which could spark genocide. The question one is tempted to ask is whether genocide is not going on already.
This is the second letter to the UNSG by the legal mind. The first one was in 2017, when he called the attention of the UNSG to the escalating nature of the crisis then and the genocidal utterances of Vision 4 TV journalists who referred to Ambazonians and rats and cockroaches on which the process of “raticide” must be applied.
BaretaNews continue to maintain that Ambazonians from the beginning of this conflict have exercised a lot of restrain without any reaction or the international community coming to their aid. Ambazonians did not declare war, LRC President declared the war. Ambazonians are not the aggressors but LRC is the aggressor. Ambazonians have been on the receiving end of military violence and collective punishment in their own sovereign territory, while the international community maintains a conspiracy of silence.
To further anger the people, the colonial regime has blocked all support institutions from offering humanitarian support to IDPs across Ambazonia, even as their terrorist continue the burning of Ambazonian villages. At this juncture, Ambazonians are very right to say that the colonial regime doesn’t have the monopoly of violence.
The statement from Chris Anu, is just a note of caution to citizens of LRC in Ambazonia and vice-versa to do the needful for their own security. When Ambazonains citizens must have taken enough of the violence and can no longer take it, they wouldn’t wait for instructions from the interim government to retaliate. These are basic truths everywhere and no one can pretend not to know this or overlook them.
BaretaNews hopes that the UNSG gives very due and urgent attention to this letter by Barrister Akere Muna before it is too late.
Below is Muna’s full letter to the UNSG.
H.E. Antonio Guterres
The United Nations
1st Ave at 46th St.
New York City, NY 10017
Monday, May 14, 2018.
Urgent Humanitarian Crisis in Cameroon
Your Excellency Secretary General,
It is with great sadness that I avail myself of this opportunity to write to you as a concerned citizen of Cameroon. For close to two years now, the crisis sweeping through the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon has been slowly escalating. The diversity in Cameroon has been mismanaged for years and what began as demonstrations by lawyers and teachers in response to this has now reignited this sentiment, which had been dormant for years. The lawyers and teachers had brought to the fore the concrete facts that were symptomatic of bad governance in the area of the management of the diversity of our country. Unfortunately, the initial response was the repressive treatment of demonstrators followed by a feeble effort at negotiation and dialogue, which turned out to be a ruse to identify and arrest the demonstrating leaders.
This was followed by massive arrests and detention of many Anglophone Cameroonians all charged with terrorism, threat to state security and many other related offences. The repressive methods used in reaction to these genuine demands from citizens pushed many to adopt a more radical stance, with some going to the extent of taking action against government forces and in certain cases public servants. The unacceptable occurred, and some members of the forces of law and order were murdered. In reaction to that, the government opted for was collective punishment – the burning of houses in the villages in which the soldiers were harmed. Such behavior is very reminiscent of the 1941 killing of almost 2,300 civilians in the Kragujevac massacre as retaliation for 10 German soldiers killed by Yugoslav Partisans in German-occupied Serbia.
Collective punishment has been the government’s preferred solution since. A high-ranking General of the Army admitted that the burnings were by the army who had no mastery of the terrain and had difficulties locating the perpetrators of the killing of the soldiers. He was immediately relieved of his duties. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Cameroon is a state-party:
“Collective punishment is a form of retaliation whereby a suspected perpetrator’s family members, friends, acquaintances, sect, neighbors or entire ethnic group is targeted. The punished group may often have no direct association with the other individual or groups, or direct control over their actions. Governments have used historically collective punishment or occupying forces have used to retaliate against and deter attacks on their forces by resistance movements (such as destroying entire towns and villages which were believed to have harbored or aided such resistance movements)”.
This crisis has resulted in over 30,000 refugees who have fled and continue to flee to neighboring Nigeria and tens of thousands of people who are internally displaced. When soldiers in a country are put in the position of fighting and in some cases killing their own citizens, conditions become fertile for sowing hatred and emboldening the irresponsible persons who advocate actions from afar while the innocent villagers pay a heavy price.
Most recently, there was video broadcast by a person calling himself the spokesperson of those advocating for the creation of an independent Anglophone state, calling for all Francophones to leave the Anglophone regions and for all Anglophones to leave the Francophone regions. This video sets the date limit at May 31, 2018, after which, he states, “the safety of Francophones cannot be guaranteed”. I am comforted by the forceful rejection by a vast majority of Cameroonians of such a proclamation. I do, however, wonder for how much longer such suffering can be endured. I am also comforted by the vast majority of Francophones who are more and more expressing their bewilderment at the systematic attacks on villages throughout the North West and the South West regions, as well as their outrage at the mass detentions without any judicial oversight.
The unwillingness of the present government of Cameroon to engage in any form of meaningful dialogue is glaring. The choice of opacity as the common denominator of its actions transpires through its interaction with most international processes it is party to. For example, Cameroon has been a member of the African Peer Review Mechanism since 2004. That process is one that would have quickly alerted the government and assisted it in dealing with the management of diversity. Fourteen years afterwards, the basic requirements to start the evaluation processes are not in place. As a former Member of the eminent Persons Panel of the APRM and former Chairperson, I have been in a position to see the effect of this on any African countries grappling with governance issues as regards the management of diversity.
All know, your Excellency, that beyond the gravity of the humanitarian crisis taking place, geographically, Cameroon is at the heart of Central Africa. The destabilization of Cameroon will have immediate consequences on the Central African Sub-Region, which hangs on the most delicate balance.
For the reasons stated hitherto and more, it is urgent for there to be an investigation, by a team of the United Nations or by The International Criminal Court, of the instances of collective punishment which is a war crime, as well as any killings or other crimes committed against the civilian population. Killings and other crimes committed against the army or civil servants must be investigated with equal rigor. Exception cannot be made for those from either side of the conflict who incite or use language geared at inflaming violent conflict.
Most Respectfully Yours,
Akere T. Muna
Cc: All current members of the Security Council.
BaretaNews Political Analyst