Barrister Geofred Andang, member of the Commonwealth Bar Association, has criticized the UK government for its inaction in addressing genocide reports and human rights violations in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions during the past four years of crisis.
He also hailed British Parliamentarians in the House of Commons and House of Lords for addressing outcomes of the conflict that has killed at least 4,000 people, displacing more than one million others.
Barrister Andang spoke to MMI in a recent interview during which he directly accused Her Majesty The Queen of England for failing to protect Commonwealth values, including democratic practices, respect of human rights, international peace and security, tolerance, freedom of expression, rule of law, good governance, access to health, education, food and shelter amidst the humanitarian crisis in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions.
MMI: A few days ago, you wrote an article in which you expressed your disappointment of Her Majesty, the Queen of England for failing (during the Commonwealth Day commemoration speech) to address the abuse of Commonwealth values by some Commonwealth member states. Can you please briefly tell me what prompted you to write that article?
The Queen seemed to have forgotten that the Commonwealth of Nations has values and principles that all Commonwealth member states must adhere to. Instead of examining and reminding the member states that there are values that are common to all member states of which they must respect, Her Majesty, the Queen, made no mention of these values and spent all her time talking about the coronavirus pandemic.
MMI: What is wrong talking about pandemic, and can we know what the Commonwealth values are?
There is nothing wrong talking about the pandemic. But you cannot talk about the pandemic which is already being taken care of by experts and politicians, and neglect or refuse to address the values of the Commonwealth of which the Queen is the Head. Currently, there is a genocide; persistent rape of young girls in British Southern Cameroons by government military forces; abduction; torture; shooting and killing of innocent citizens by government militia.
Over 200 villages have been set ablaze by government forces, which has led to the displacement of English-speaking Cameroonians internally and in other neighbouring African countries.
All these as a result of the fact that the government of Cameroon does not respect Commonwealth values like democratic practices, the respect of human rights, international peace and security, tolerance, freedom of expression, the rule of Law, good Governance, access to health, education, food and shelter, and the good treatment of young people within the Commonwealth of Nations.
For close to five years, the government of Cameroon has violated all Commonwealth values to the extent that genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are the prevailing atrocious crimes that the citizens of British Southern Cameroons are facing in the hands of the repressive dictatorial and barbaric French Cameroon regime under the watchful eyes of the Queen (the purported Head of the Commonwealth).
MMI: The Queen, the ‘purported’ Head of the Commonwealth?
How would you describe a mother who refuses and or neglects to address the grievances of her children? Children who are being persecuted for trying to respect the values of freedom of expression, human dignity or simply for talking the English language?
The only success of the Queen is to have held the Commonwealth together for the sole benefit of the British Monarchy, which to Commonwealth citizens is no achievement. There is genocide in Cameroon in which the victims are Commonwealth citizens and the perpetrators are officials of a Commonwealth member state. The Queen and HMG have absolutely failed in protecting the lives of the citizens of British Southern Cameroons who are victims of genocide.
MMI: Chinese Gov’t sanctioned for abuses against Uighur Muslims
Barrister Andang also wondered why countries like Canada, US, UK and the EU will sanction the Chinese government on rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, but would take no action against similar events in Cameroon.
Talking about this, he said “It is a brave move that needs to be applauded (but) the question I am asking is; what stops the international community from taking similar action on the government of Cameroun? The US and Canada should continue to put pressure on other powers so that several senior Chinese officials be sanctioned. Let us hope Cameroon will soon be the next and I hope Britain wakes up from slumber.”
MMI: Britain is coming up strongly and we can see this from the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, when he said China’s treatment of the Uighur minority was “the largest mass detention of an ethnic and religious group since the second world war”.
This is absolute nonsense. I wonder why the Cameroon armed conflict is not given the same weight by the British government. British Southern Cameroonians (today’s English-speaking Cameroonians) are victims of egregious human rights violations, genocide, and war crimes. Mr. Raab insisted that evidence of repression in Xinjiang “is clear as it is sobering” but when it comes to Cameroon, Mr. Raab and the British government are doing everything to protect British genocidal trade partner (the Cameroon government).
Why is Britain using a softer tone when it comes to the genocide in Southern Cameroons? Genocide committed by the French Cameroon government. Each time we remind the British of serious crimes being committed by the Cameroon government, British government officials talk of ‘violence on both sides’, with the intention of protecting genocide perpetrators.
MMI: You seem not to be happy with the response from Britain.
What pleasantly surprises me is the British foreign secretary’s insistence on the immediate imposition of sanctions on China which include travel bans and asset freezes on Chinese officials. If they can support sanctions on Chinese officials, then they have absolutely no justifiable reasons for not banning and freezing the assets of Cameroon government officials.
MMI: The time will soon come for Cameroon to face the same music after the UK and their allies have taught the Chinese a good lesson.
Did you just say, ‘good lesson’? With respect to that, the Chinese had this to say, “the Chinese side urges the EU side to reflect on itself’, ….and to ‘stop lecturing others on human rights and interfering in their internal affairs. It must end the hypocritical practice of double standards.” The Chinese are perfectly right when they describe the EU and the UK as ‘hypocritical’ and people playing the game of ‘double standards’.
I am sure the Chinese are referring to the reaction of the USA, EU, Canada, and the UK in respect to the armed conflict in the Cameroons. Looking at the response of the EU and the UK, I do not think the EU and the UK have any moral standing in lecturing others on human rights especially when the international community says that what is happening in the Cameroons is an internal matter, and that the international community respects the territorial integrity of Cameroon.
If the armed conflict in Cameroon is an internal matter, then the Chinese are right to remind the UK and the international community that the massacre of the Uighurs should equally be considered a Chinese internal affair.
MMI: Let’s talk about the EU-China Investment Agreement.
MMI: The West argues that Investment Agreements with China must be cancelled because China is engaged in slave labour, human rights abuses and genocide are enough to cancel Investment Agreements.
I wonder why the UK and other EU countries keep signing trade agreements with the genocidal Cameroonian regime. Looking at the recent UK Trade Deals of £200 million with genocidal Cameroon regime, the Chinese are therefore right when they say the West should not lecture others on human rights.
Don’t you see that the West is reacting to the Xinjiang massacre different from the massacres of English-speaking Cameroonians by the Cameroon government? The different responses are exhibitions of ‘hypocritical practices of double standards’ by the West?
I read somewhere that the EU and the UK can never trust the Chinese government ‘to improve the human rights situation of the Uighurs’ because the Chinese government ‘simply call’ the accusations as ‘fake news’. If that is true, why then does Britain trust the regime in Cameroon that has committed worse crimes than the Chinese?
How do you sign trade agreements worth hundreds of millions of pound sterling with a genocidal regime is you are not supporting those crimes?