I have been thinking about this for many years since I left the Cameroons. It is common believe from those in the Cameroons that, Cameroonians most especially those from former British Southern Cameroons who are in the diaspora found their way using the Southern Cameroons story. This is however not true. First and foremost, what is asylum? Is it legally backed? Asylum is defined as the protection granted by a state to someone who has left their home country as a political refugee. Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted in 1948, guarantees the right to seek and enjoy asylum in other countries. Subsequent regional human rights instruments have elaborated on this right, guaranteeing the “right to seek and be granted asylum in a foreign territory, in accordance with the legislation of the state and international conventions.” American Convention on Human Rights, art. 22(7); African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, art. 12(3).
The controlling international convention on refugee law is the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) and its 1967 Optional Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (1967 Optional Protocol). The 1951 Convention establishes the definition of a refugee as well as the principle of nonrefoulement and the rights afforded to those granted refugee status.
That said, gaining asylum is a political right for all persons who thinks their basic human and political ideology could be persecuted in their home countries. Are Cameroonians from former British Southern Cameroons who are part and parcel of the Southern Cameroons movement deserved the right to seek political asylum? Yes, they do because it is their human right. Is the present regime of Paul Biya persecuting Anglophone Cameroonians who hold the ideology of an independent Southern Cameroons? Yes, they do till date. We saw recently some 16 Southern Cameroonians arrested for meeting to talk about issues that matter to them.
The main issue of this write-up focuses on those who have status as a political refugee (Asylum) under the tagline of a victim of the Southern Cameroons ideology. It is true that most Anglophones abroad who are political refugees sincerely believe in the course, but recently something dangerous is happening. We are seeing a lot of Cameroonians who are using the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) tag line to gain asylum in Europe, UK, Canada, USA, Africa etc. This is good news for the movement because the very fact that a government offers someone political asylum under a particular banner means they believe in the legality of your claims. That is to say, a lot of governments in Europe, Canada, USA believes in the Southern Cameroons story because most often than not, these persons are granted political asylum. This is good for the Southern Cameroons course, because it continues to put the Southern Cameroons on the map. There are many who genuinely deserved it.
Now, I want to address all those who uses this as a means to an end. First and foremost, let me just make this clear, whether you use the SCNC as a means to an end to find your way around or you genuinely belong, I have no issues. You only add more credence to the course with the respective governments.
My main worries come to all those in the Diaspora, having political asylum under the SCNC tag line yet these persons are on social media every day damning and criticizing the movement. Some even go as far as to deny the possibility of an independent Southern Cameroons. Worst still, these persons never ever contribute to the movement. BaretaNews is hence calling on all those thousands of Southern Cameroonians who are in the diaspora to also help the movement grow by contributing a token monthly to the movement. This is a MUST and not an obligation. If you use the name of the movement, if the government of your resident country gave you political asylum on behalf of this movement then please you must contribute financially to this movement. This should be obligatory. If you cannot support publicly the independence of Southern Cameroons on the basis which you were granted political asylum, then it is just good to shut your mouth up and stop being selfish and greedy.
We have activists back home who are in detention, these activists need food, medicines, and legal support. We have lawyers who daily are fighting for these activists, these lawyers also need support. The three most important arms of the Southern Cameroons struggle is political, communication and most importantly financial. The political and communication arm is already running, but the financial part is crumbling. The movement needs a central fund wherein all contributions come in with credible persons to manage so that trips to dialogue the movement internationally can be carried out. Activists back home need to be taken care of and most importantly lawyers need to be put on stipends to support the logistic work they carry out. Financial stability will build the movement home, organize rallies etc
This message is tailored against all those with political asylum abroad under the tag of the SCNC. BaretaNews is aware that a host of Anglophone Cameroonians have this status plus those who are currently seeking. Our position is not to stop anybody to request for such status, but once you have been helped, it is your duty to support the movement also in all its forms.
In the months ahead , we would be building a legal movement to contact major governments in Europe, Canada, and the USA to get detailed statistics of all Southern Cameroonians under political asylum so as to make a case at the UN. It is a process, our intensions are not to fish out the fakes, but to make sure if you do not contribute then it might lead to a total and complete investigation of the veracity of your claims. It could be nasty then.
However, we cannot end without faulting the movement. We have different movements. They themselves are not even organized. We understand there are many who will genuinely wish to contribute to this movement but there is no credible and central platform where such monies will go through with clean accountability. We understand these frustrations. Though I am not a member of the SCNC or any other faction, I will be calling on those that matter to create a central platform where contributions can come in and financial updates are given monthly to all those who contributed. This can be done. It is our hope that this is done as soon as possible. We would be glad if all factions can come together and agree on a common ground for this. BaretaNews will push this through and updates will follow later.
God bless the Cameroons
God is still saying something.