The situation in Cameroon is getting out of hand, following the declaration of independence by a separatist anglophone group. Many people have been pronounced dead as the security forces are responding to the development with heavy-handedness.
The separatists chose October 1, the anniversary of the official reunification of the anglophone and francophone parts of Cameroon, to declare independence for "Ambazonia", the name of the state they want to create. The minority anglophones have for long bemoaned the fact that they are marginalized and discriminated by the dominant French-speaking government. They have held these calls for long, such that at one point this year the government had to respond by shutting down the internet for them for three months.
The government deployed security forces at the weekend in English-speaking regions, notably Buea in the southwest and Bamenda, the main town in the northwest and a hub of anglophone agitation. Several people were admitted to hospital in Bamenda Sunday after clashes between demonstrators and police, according to a medical source. "At least one person was injured by live fire" in Bamenda, where the situation was "very tense", a source close to the local authorities told AFP.
Many witnesses and sources said that the security forces were just "shooting" and that they used teargas to disperse the protesters. The security forces, as revealed by One of the leaders of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), Joshua Osih, fired real bullets. Joshua Osih is not supporting the idea of creating a separate state.
In Ndop, 40km from Bamenda, two people were "shot dead", according to sources, while one was killed in Kumbo on the sidelines of the protests, city mayor Donatus Njong said. Also in Kumbo, three prison inmates were shot and killed trying to escape while security forces were mobilised for the deployments in anglophone regions, a source close to regional authorities said. A young man was shot dead by security forces on Saturday in the southwest town of Kumba, known as a rebellious city since the start of the protests, sparking clashes between security forces and the local population.
Amnesty International expressed concern over the government's "on-going campaign to silence any form of dissent in the West and South-West regions of Cameroon." In Yaounde and all major towns in the French-speaking regions, political parties, law makers and the government organized rallies denouncing the separatist groups. Amnesty International said "at least" 17 people were killed by security forces in the country's two English-speaking regions, a figure that concurred with a toll given by official sources, who said two Nigerians were among the dead.
The crisis is seemingly just the tip of an iceberg. It's either independence will be granted, which is highly unlikely, or more deaths will prevail.