Take action: U.S. Peace Resolution for Cameroon
A clergyman in Kumbo is quoted in the most recent Human Rights Watch report as saying, “I don't like the idea that the international community only waits for bloodshed and open war to come with aid.” As members of the international community, we invite you to join us in trying to avert further violence.
La Crosse Friends of Cameroon and Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have developed deeply meaningful relationships with Cameroonian friends and partners for over 20 years, and the City of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is a sister-city with Kumbo, in the North-West region. As such, we find reports from our Cameroonian friends and international human rights observers deeply disturbing as we learn more about what is commonly called the Anglophone Crisis.
Cameroon, a bilingual and multicultural country in West-Central Africa, has strong ties with France and the United States. The North-West region has been considered relatively stable until late 2016, when Anglophone (English-speaking) activists in the North-West and South-West regions, who have long complained of their regions’ perceived marginalization by the Francophone (French-speaking) majority, began to organize protests to demand more political autonomy or secession. Led by lawyers, teachers, and students, protests against increasing marginalization of Anglophones in the educational and judicial systems by the central government were met swiftly and strongly by government security forces. In 2017, negotiations between the lawyers and teachers’ unions and the government were unsuccessful. When the government arrested prominent Anglophone negotiators, other leaders began to demand independence for the Anglophone North-West and South-West regions, creating a new territory they call “Ambazonia.”
Read "Sisterly solidarity, crisis in Cameroon," by Sister Julia Walsh
Public demonstrations in the region have been declared illegal and powerfully repressed by military force. Ambazonian activists, in an attempt to render the regions ungovernable, have called for school boycotts and weekly “ghost towns”, during which business and public transportation is prohibited. These have been strongly, at times violently, enforced by activists. Increased military presence in the region and unrestrained use of force to quell uprisings has, according to international analysis, contributed to radicalization of Ambazonian activists, whose factions have increased over the past year along with attacks on schools and military outposts. In response, government security forces have carried out counterinsurgency operations targeting entire villages and killing civilians. As a result, there are at least 160,000 internally displaced civilians in the region and between 20,000-50,000 refugees who have fled to Nigeria. According to most international experts, the announcement of a presidential election in October 2018, during which President Paul Biya seeks re-election for a seventh consecutive term, sets the stage for further tension and violence.
Cameroon religious leaders are coming together to help seek a solution, with Cardinal Christian Tumi leading. Tumi, the archbishop emeritus of Douala, joined with Christian and Muslim leaders to call for an Anglophone General Conference involving all stakeholders, in country and abroad, to take place in the town of Buea.
We recognize that the present situation is incredibly complex. At the same time, we cannot stand by and simply watch the current crisis with its escalating violence. As friends and partners of Cameroon, we sense a moral obligation to advocate for the de-escalation of violence and mediated dialogue between the Cameroon government and Anglophone leaders as a way toward justice, stability, and viable peace.
Since the United States government is a strong partner with Cameroon, we are appealing to our elected and appointed leaders for intervention. Specifically, we are working with Representative Ron Kind (WI) , a member of the Tom Lantos Congressional Human Rights Commission and supporting the work of the United States Embassy in Cameroon as a stakeholder for peace.
We encourage you to send your own resolution or letter to Ben Hutterer at Ron Kind’s office (Ben.Hutterer@mail.house.gov ) and copy your own Congressperson on the email correspondence. We also invite you to send this email information pack everyone in your address book.
Please act soon – things are getting worse by the day.
Representative Ron Kind
ATTN: BEN HUTTERER
205 Fifth Avenue S., Suite 400
La Crosse, WI 54601
Phone: (608) 782-2558
Fax: (608) 782-4588
American Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon
Avenue Rosa Parks B.P. 817
Phone (+237)22 220-1500
Fax (+237) 22 220-1500 ext. 4531
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Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
4150 O'Neill Federal Building
200 C Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: +1 (202) 225-3599
Fax: +1 (202) 226-5887