A video surfaced online recently of a group of soldiers leading unarmed civilians of women and children to be exterminated. The video stirred public outrage and sympathy with commenters wondering why the African Union and United Nations have turned a blind eye to the menace.
What led to the crackdown
It started when there were calls from the Anglophone zone of Cameroon on the government for more integration or autonomy.
The Anglophone separatists then declared independence from the French-speaking majority on October 1. but government stepped in with heavy-handed tactics.
Security forces were deployed to the regions; protests were met with violence, arrests and killings. Hundreds of homes were razed.
Why they felt marginalized
Many in the Anglophone community feel marginalised by the French-speaking government in Yaounde, citing a lack of political representation, job opportunities and resources and the imposition of French in schools, official documents and courts, Aljazera reports.
It was also stated that more than half of Cameroon’s gross domestic product (GDP) comes from the Anglophone regions, according to estimates.
When they chose Cameroon instead of Nigeria
Cameroon has a population of nearly 24 million people. An estimated 20 percent live in the Anglophone regions. Eight out of the country’s 10 administrative provinces are Francophone.
After Francophone Cameroon secured independence in 1960, the UN facilitated a referendum that allowed regions under British mandate to either join Nigeria or the larger French-speaking Cameroon.
Southern Cameroon – the present-day northwest and southwest regions – joined the Republic of Cameroon, but a national referendum in 1972 changed Cameroon into a unitary state.
President Paul Biya, who came into office in 1982, and remains till date changed the country’s name in 1984 to the Republic of Cameroon, the initial Francophone territory name.
A second yellow star on the green stripe of the flag was removed, with the government touting the move as a symbol of unity.
How some Anglophone Cameroonians argue that the second yellow star that was removed symbolises the Anglo phone part.
What the situation is now
Many of them, over 21 thousand have fled into Nigeria for safety, according to NGOs, though local emergency officials say the number could be higher, at up to 50,000.