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Anglophone Protest: Who stands to gain from persecution of prelates & church leaders?

Barrister Charles A. Taku

There is a letter in circulation from the Catholic Bishops of Cameroon signed by the Arch Bishop of Douala. This is a second letter written by the Bishops of Cameroon. Like the first letter, this letter fails to clearly identify the problem the writers purport to be concerned about.

I find the use of contentious slogans like safeguard of “unité nationale” and similar language which Issa Tchiroma, the Minister of Communication has consistently used in relation to the subject matter of the Bishop’s letter troubling.

The good news is that the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda came out with a comprehensive letter that dispassionately identified the profound causes of the crisis and made attainable reasonable proposals for comprehensive dialogue for the resolution to the crisis. Significant national and international actors have since endorsed the proposal of a comprehensive dialogue to resolve the crisis made by the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda.

From the late palliatives announced by the government, it is obvious that some of the proposals made by the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda might have influenced governmental action; at least too little, too late. It is discernible from an anxious reading of the first letter of the Bishops of Cameroon that of the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and the present letter of the Bishops of Cameroon that the latest letter of the Bishops of Cameroon is actuated by political rather than Christian motivations.

The Christian value of their letters is mitigated by the vacuous content on details and rigour in confronting the truth that the Gospel of the Cross teaches. Their peers in the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province and a significant number of clerics from many denominations have contemporaneously denounced the on-going egregious violations on armless citizens, the politicization of military justice, the genocide, the cultural genocide and several international crimes that have shocked the conscience of humanity in the territory of the Southern Cameroons. These late and timid reactions expose these prelates as shepherds that abandoned the flock in time of need.

I find their timid condemnation of the frivolous and vexatious cases against the Bishop and Church of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and the religious leaders of other Christian Churches surprising and unjustified. There are discernible attempts made by the Bishops of Cameroon in their two letters to impute some form of blame on Southern Cameroons civilian victims for articulating their grievances through peaceful and legal means guaranteed by multilateral treaties which Cameroon is state party. By omission or by practicing the gospel of Pontius Pilate, they may by default be emboldening and strengthening the hand of tyranny.

Their unfortunate ploy to balance their cursory concerns of the legally and morally unjustified use of excessive force by state actors who are bound by the Geneva Conventions (1949) to respect the sanctity of civilian lives, avoid actions in their deployments that will harm civilians and civilian targets is regrettable. If the actions of these prelates are intended to secure a place for them in a future comprehensive dialogue to resolve the crisis, I am afraid, they have overplayed their relevance.

The crisis concerns the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda. The Bishops of this Ecclesiastical Province have spoken and we have taken note. Along with the Church, they are presently persecuted by proxy using senior members of the military who by military discipline will not form or be members of activist civil society associations. The bastardisation of the educational system harms Catholic education and the social teachings of the Church. The question, I must ask, who stands to gain from these crimes? And who stands to gain from the persecution of the prelates and church leaders?

The spiritual underpinnings of these actions and the ruthless attempts to control, dominate and terrorize every person and institution that stand on the path of those who hope to eternalize power by mystical spiritual means are in the public domain. Some call it spiritual warfare. We Christians are ready and prepared for this phase of the battle as well. This is therefore a time for a profound critical recommitment to our Christian faith and to the tenets of freedom and justice.

As a Catholic Christian, I strongly urge the Bishops of Cameroon to advice the government of Cameroon to critically read the letter of the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda in which they confronted the truth with biblical inspiration and the faith in the Christian values.

For this reason, the letters are unnecessary and unwarranted.

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