Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, President of a faction of the Ambazonia Interim Government (I.G.) detained at the Yaounde Principal Prison in the Kondengui neighborhood says talks with the government have stalled. He outlines conditions for negotiations while stating their determination to commit to a ceasefire.
In a recent interview, Ayuk Tabe says their resolve is to make Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions an independent country called Ambazonia.
Arrested on January 5, 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria, and airlifted to Yaounde, Ayuk Tabe begins this interview by looking at his four years already spent in jail but says he has no regrets.
Read him below 👇🏾
Life in prison has never been reported by any inmate to be good or devoid of pain, neither is it fun. It is a life of pain especially as it concerns people who were hitherto very successful in life, than those who command the authority of injustices, who perpetrate injustice, and who unjustly sentence Ambazonians to jail time. The pain is much, especially considering the travesty of justice our people are experiencing from the system of la Republique du Cameroun (LRC). All Ambazonians whether in prisons or not are living in jail.
Those in LRC created jails are suffering so much pain and still being subjected to the agony of our land being desecrated. Many others are witnessing similar pain every day including those recruited to serve in the LRC system. The progressive land-of-my-birth blood flows strong in all our blood vessels. The LRC prison conditions are terrible and these are our everyday experiences.
How can anyone fathom the fact that detainees have to take care of their medical needs? However, the price of these sacrifices by Ambazonians is worth it because the freedom of a people is non-negotiable. Everyone is born free, why should we live in chains? We believe that a vast majority of our people want freedom and no such person will tell you a story of regrets embarking on this struggle. After all, no pain no gain.
We can only regret the fact that we did not undertake this restoration struggle earlier because 60 years of waiting is too long. Even you know, deep in your heart, that we have waited for too long, for acceptance which never came. If they hate you for who you are, nothing you do will change that, except you move away.
War has been raging in the North-West and South-West Regions for at least five years. What is your assessment of the current situation? What has changed?
To begin with, if the territory you are referring to is the Former UN British Trust Territory of the Southern Cameroons, I will appeal that you be schooled on the right vocabulary and the right nomenclature. This territory is the Southern Cameroons. How does it feel that a nation which accepted to join La République du Cameroun in 1961 is today being referred to by you as a region of La République du Cameroun? Which instrument of international law made La République du Cameroun grow and subsume another nation? Is this still part of the annexationist provocative appellation ‘North-West and South-West regions’ tendencies to reap our people off their history, identity, and prosperous future? We are Southern Cameroonians (Ambazonians). Get it right!
NB: When Mr. Paul Biya on the 30th of November 2017 declared war on the people of the Southern Cameroons, some boasted that in two weeks the LRC army will retain victory. The war of domination has been turned into a genocidal war, yet there is no victory in sight.
Five years and counting the victory that was envisaged is still a mirage. Our people acting in self-defense are becoming more understanding and committed, each passing day.
You would recall, they started with peace plants, and violence was blasted upon them. History teaches us that no external army has defeated a people in their land. Those who proclaimed and are executing this war should review the lessons of the wars in Vietnam, Eritrea, South Sudan, and recently in Afghanistan.
Short of off-rooting the indigenous people and planting yours, if you come and stay, eventually you will go back to yours and leave our land. The will of our people shall eventually prevail like it was with those nations cited. Note that the spirit of resistance is in the soul of humans and we are no less human than anyone on this planet.
So far, a genocide and Scotch-Earth policy is being perpetuated in our homeland with dire repercussions:- over 32,500 of our people have been died in targeted killings and massacres, over 550 villages razed down, over 1.5 million people have been displaced across the globe, as refugees and internally displaced persons, with Nigeria hosting over 120,000 of these refugees; thousands of our women, girls, and grand-children have been raped and abused; over 4,000 of our people have been incarcerated including pregnant women, nursing mothers, and babies; thousands have been maimed and tortured.
How devilish will one be, not to address such perpetrators? Despite the ongoing genocide and the egregious Human Rights abuses on our people, the international community has remained mute. Despite the high-sounding world proclamation of “Never Again”, genocide is happening again. Indeed, in the Southern Cameroons today, we are all witnesses to a replay of the Rwanda 1993/94 genocide, and the international community is watching silently. We call on everyone to press for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to commission an International Fact-Finding Mission to the Southern Camerouns, to halt this genocide and gross human rights abuses; and bring the perpetrators to book. We call on Presidents Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron, and other world leaders to call la Republique du Cameroun to end this bloodshed and address the root cause of this crisis.
What has changed is that more and more, our people are knowing where we come from; they understand why we are here and they visualize where we are heading to. If you understand the why, you can withstand anything to accomplish your objective.
How long do you think this war will last?
To call it a war, is to demonstrate ignorance of the reality on the ground. The right expression and to better rephrase your question is; For how long will this genocidal war on the People of Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia last?
People must understand that our people are acting in legitimate Self-Defense This genocidal war would stop if the one who declared it decides to call it off.
Our people are very conscious of what they want and are determined to get it, irrespective of the pain, sweat, or blood we shed.
Whether this genocide lasts for a short time or a long time, it will ultimately end with the Will of the people prevailing over any military might, assumed or real. It will end where it was supposed to begin … on the Negotiating Table.
On every occasion, we have tabled confidence-building measures that could bring this genocidal war to an end. They are:-
a) Mr. Biya should remove his military from our streets and villages;
b) Free all persons arrested and detained in connection with this crisis;
c) Grant free access to all our people in the Diaspora to be able to return without fear of being arrested, tortured, or detained;
d) The LRC government should commit to an internationally mediated settlement of the conflict, in a neutral venue mutually acceptable to both parties, with a mutually acceptable mediator.
These measures are modest and doable. The one who called the war should call it off, create an enabling environment to end it, and resolve this crisis from its roots. Otherwise, we see no other way out. We can do this today to save our people’s pain and death or they force us to wait for tomorrow, with the net effect being the hardening of positions on either side.
Do you support the implementation of the resolutions of the Major National Dialogue, including the attribution of a Special Status to the North-west and South-west regions?
To us, the Major National Dialogue was a non-event. Mr. Biya was talking to himself. On this issue, when Mr. Biya talks to Dr. Dion Ngute, he is talking to himself, the same as when he talks to Mr. Philemon Yang, Mr. Peter Mafany Musonge, Chief Tabetando, or Mr. Atanga Nji.
It is ridiculous to say that someone could grant what he/she doesn’t have. LRC lacks the legitimacy and moral standing to grant the Southern Cameroons any status. The future and destiny of any nation are in the hands of its people. Self-determination of a People is a fundamental right.
That is the path the people of the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia have opted to pursue. No status, whatsoever, can derail our people from this noble and costly goal.
Senator Henry Kemende was killed recently. The European Union maintains that it is the work of non-state actors. What do you think?
May the soul of Senator Barrister Henry Kemende rest in the peace of the Lord. May his family be consoled and remain firmly attached to God for strength. His assassination fits squarely in the ‘modus operandi’ of the forces of evil and their stock in trade:- of targeted elimination and massacres, in furtherance of their genocidal policy on Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia. Recall Baby Martha, Baby Carol, baby Tataw, journalist Wazizi, Ngarbuh, Pinyin, Kumba, Ekondo Titi, and Muyuka Massacres just to mention these few.
For a long, we have been calling on the International Community including the European Union and African Union to press for a UN Security Council-mandated Fact-Finding Mission to the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia to investigate these atrocities. This has not yet been done. The LRC government bars International Human Rights Organizations and Journalists from having access into the Southern Cameroons.
We are certain that the European Union relied on this one-sided story from reports of peripheral journalism to draw such a conclusion. We urge them to send a neutral international fact-finding mission to investigate the assassination of Barrister Henry Kemende and others.
The revelations of such a commission we believe will be very different from what is being propagated now. Let the LRC government open up to investigative journalists from CNN, Aljazeera, BBC, France 24, and others, then let’s see whether the thoughts of the EU will hold any water. However, you may wish to know that the EU parliament has passed several resolutions like the US Congress for which Ambazonians are awaiting full implementation.
Recall also that the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, suggested resolving these conflicts immediately after that in Ethiopia. While our people die, we have to wait for ours to be brought to the front burner. Mind you, our people are peace-loving and conscious people from Enugu, through Foumban to Banjul.
Where are you with the negotiations with the government?
As of now, we are not into any negotiations with the Cameroun government. We met with them twice in 2020 and tabled some Confidence Building Measures that would create the Avenue and conducive atmosphere for the way forward to TALKS and Negotiations. We are ready to join the call for a ceasefire and open the door for negotiations.
These measures include:
a) Mr. Biya should declare the Ceasefire by removing his military and forces from our streets and villages;
b) Free all persons arrested and detained in connection with this conflict;
c) Grant free access to all our people in the Diaspora to be able to return without fear of being arrested, tortured, or secretly detained;
d) The LRC government should Commit to an international Mediation with our people, in a neutral venue mutually agreed upon.
Be assured that we are ready and shall present a formidable team, selected by Ambazonians and not any hand-picked members.
We are urging the international community to persuade Mr. Paul Biya to agree to resolve this conflict in the only way possible, under internationally prescribed conflict resolution principles and procedures.
Do you think there could be a new dialogue?
All we know is that an army has never defeated a people in their land, not to talk of a determined and committed people like Ambazonians. The conflict will end where it was supposed to begin – on a dialogue table with international mediation between the government of La Republique du Cameroun and the people of the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia.
However, if Mr. Paul Biya continues to display this inconsiderate move of sending his people as military to our land, the regrets on their families will continue because ultimately no one can truly compensate the families of fallen soldiers, talk less of those involved in a senseless genocidal war. Mr journalist, have you people visited our land, to find out about life from the families, victims of this man-made disaster?
Despite the sweat, pain, tears, blood they endure, most say «give us liberty and freedom or go our death». How can you defeat such a people? No one is more difficult to defeat than one who is ready to sacrifice everything, including his/her life, for a cause.
Today Ambazonian leaders are accused of embezzlement. What reaction does this elicit in you? How can funds destined to defend a cause take other paths? Doesn’t that discredit your fight?
It is painful and pathetic indeed to hear that some leaders have gone down that route. We frown at all corrupt practices no matter how small. Our dream is to develop and make Ambazonia, a jewel in the Gulf of Guinea, Africa, and the world. This can be achieved only when we shun corruption.
As of now, we are trying to build institutions that, going forward, are driven by a high sense of responsibility, accountability, and transparency. Thus, we are calling on all Ambazonians to join hands to achieve this noble goal that will make financing the revolution easier and more credible.
We also call on those using the restoration struggle for personal aggrandizement to desist from it going forward. They should be reminded that there will be a day of reckoning when we get home. The Ambazonian people shall hold their leaders accountable everywhere and at all times.
There is no immunity and dictatorship or such phrases as “high instructions of the head of state”. So all those handling the peoples’ funds will in time be judged and if found guilty, such persons will be conscripted to refund the money with penalties. However, there is no war without deviants. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were early examples.
With massive embezzlement, insults and counter-insults, and the impending disintegration of the group you led before your arrest, do you think you can stop this group from further disintegrating?
Hardly can you cite a house or even a revolution without divisions. Don’t you disagree with your partner at home? Have you not read of worse instances in history of these elements as pitfalls in revolutions? Did Miriam and Aaron not oppose Moses? Our case and cause are not unique.
The good thing with the divisions we see in the Ambazonian quest is that we all have a common focus and purpose, which is getting to Buea. The differences you see are cosmetic and will in time disappear. These divisions slow us down but with increasing communication among us, especially with the facilitation of the Centre for Dialogue and Negotiation (CDN) to foster mutual respect, our differences are reducing.
On this subject, we call on all Leaders of our Restoration cause, to communicate more with one another and build bridges that enhance collaboration for the sake of our suffering people. If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.
Our team is working tirelessly to collaborate with all movements and groups involved in this struggle.
We call on the Ambazonian people to remain resolute, steadfast, courageous, and determined. Even though this war was imposed on us, our people are resolute and steadfast.
We can resolve this conflict and become better or necessary neighbors like the USA and Canada or pay a blind eye and further live like Israel and Palestine. The choice is LRC’s and don’t forget that in life you make your choices and eventually your choices make you.
We seize this opportunity to extend our New Year greetings to our people and the people of this world.
The world will be a better place if each and everyone contributes his/her potential. Thank you