English-speaking Cameroonians who reacted to the recent execution of civilians in Guzang have said elites should not just stop at condemning the act but should pressure the government to resolve the ongoing armed conflict.
Residents of Guzang, where separatist fighters publicly executed two men on Wednesday, said their elites and Fons should rise above just condemning atrocities.
They aired their frustrations after Mbanyamsig Hansel, brother to the Fon of Guzang, and Aburo Cletus, a petit trader, were publicly shot dead.
Among those who have lashed out at separatist fighters for the crime are Senator Enwe Francis and the Parliamentarian for Momo East Constituency, Hon. Injoh Prudencia.
Also, international lawyer Bar. Akere Muna; the Fon of Guzang, Gwan Mbahnyamsig III; and opposition party leader Prof Maurice Kamto have condemned the act.
Guzang residents who spoke to MMI appreciated their concern for the victims but said they must not stop at just denouncing the cruel acts.
Fonjong W. said parliamentarians from the Anglophone Regions should push for concrete action from the government.
“The crisis we have is political and needs a political solution, not empty condemnations to seek notice,” Fonjong told MMI.
“The case of Guzang was in the open. What about those that are happening away from our eyes? We need a political solution, and it can also come from the national assembly and the Senate,” he added.
Dozens of civilians have died from the armed conflict this year, with CHRDA estimating that 116 people died between January and June.
One of the most shocking incidents took place on July 20, when separatists stormed Nacho Junction, Bamenda, and killed 10 civilians.
The incident also drew wide condemnations, but the belligerents have failed to silence the guns.
“The level at which authorities and other political elite castigated the killings in Nacho, I thought no lives would ever be lost again in this crisis,” said Martha, a native of Guzang.
She is among those who believe elites must not end at just condemning but also advocate for dialogue.
“It is clear that no amount of condemnation will stop the killings,” Martha said.
She regretted that many elites and traditional rulers have hardly pushed for any dialogue between the government and separatists.
Rather, they have either sided with the government or remained passive in the face of these attacks.
“My Fon, Gwan Mbahnyamsig III of Guzang, was rather calling on us to collaborate with defence and security forces to pursue the ongoing reconstruction process; vanity,” Martha said.
Lawmakers and elites from the English-speaking Regions of Cameroon have been faulted for only standing up to the government when their personal interests are at stake.
This September, parliamentarians of the ruling CPDM party who hail from the North West Region wrote a joint memo to denounce marginalisation against them at the National Assembly.
Many were surprised that these MPs could collectively advocate for a cause at the National Assembly.
But they have made no effort to get Parliament to discuss the ongoing Anglophone Crisis, despite its enormous human and material impact on their constituents.
Mbah (full name withheld for security reasons), a resident of Bamenda, thinks Anglophone politicians are only thinking about their own interests, not the people’s.
“We saw them standing up as one man to decry the marginalisation of Anglophones at the level of the National Assembly. This was about them not occupying juicy positions at the institution,” he said.
“They could also rise and advocate for a peaceful end of the crisis, yet they are only condemning. They are very selfish,” Mbah told MMI.
Aside from the inaction on the crisis, Anglophone elites, especially those belonging to the ruling CPDM party, have turned to condemning violence only when it is perpetrated by separatist fighters.
Some Bamenda residents who spoke to MMI said elites do not come out in the same way to condemn military attacks on civilians.
Human rights organisations have faulted the Cameroonian army several times for committing gross abuses on civilians.
These include arson, summary killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and forced disappearance, among other atrocities.
Notable among them is the Ngarbuh massacre, when the army killed about 21 civilians in Ngarbuh village in the North West on February 14, 2020.
Some Anglophone Cameronians told MMI they have lost faith in their parliamentarians because they do not serve collective interests.
Some interviews asked them to resign if they could not defend their people.