Soldiers loyal to the Biya regime as well as separatist fighters are all guilty of the deteriorating situation in the North West and South West regions in Cameroon that has led to several persons dead as well as displaced, political and civil society activist Edith Kah Walla has said.
In a strong outing on Easter Sunday, Kah Walla said the actions of both factions has plunged the masses into suffering and only a true dialogue can solve the crisis.
Below is a full text from Kah Walla;
First I want to wish a Happy Easter to all our Christian Brothers and Sisters. Secondly, I wish to extend particular greetings to all who live in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon.
It would seem in the last 72 hours there has been quite a frenzy about a video snippet from the conference I spoke at, at the George Washington University Institute for African Studies. This frenzy has resulted in some persons in the Diaspora calling me an “enabler and declaring me an enemy of Anglophones and demanding that I should be arrested and tried”.
Thank you to all of you who have reached out to me out of concern for my safety and well-being. You are right to be concerned and I thank you for your love and affection.
Please be assured, I am serene and focused on the fight for change for Cameroon, as I have been for decades. There is absolutely no fear in my heart. No fear of visiting the South West and North West regions, which I will do upon return to Cameroon. No fear for my life.
Let me confirm some of the statements made at GWU, once again.
• There is an Anglophone problem in Cameroon which is over 60 years old.
• In the current phase of the Anglophone Crisis which erupted in October 2016, the Biya Regime holds 100% of the blame for the instigation and the escalation of the crisis. The Biya Regime refused to dialogue, refused to address fundamental problems and responded to non-violent protests with violence and killing. The Biya Regime cut off the internet for 3 months to the North West and South West. The Biya Regime radicalized the population and led to the taking up of arms by some groups.
Now let me get to the part of my comments at George Washington University which some have found controversial.
The fact that the Biya Regime is absolutely culpable, does not negate the fact that those who decided to take up arms to fight for independence misled and lied to the population from Day 1 and have continued to do so for the past 3 years.
The Biya Regime has killed Anglophones indiscriminately and committed all sorts of abomination on the population. This does not negate the fact that those who decided to take up arms have also used intimidation and violence from Day 1. It does not negate the fact that their choice to take up arms has created a situation in the North West and South West regions which is catastrophic and untenable for the population.
In fighting the Biya Regime, we are fighting a regime which has lied to us, manipulated us, intimidated us and used corruption and violence on us for the past 37 years. It is inconceivable to me that those who want change would use the same tactics of lies, manipulation, intimidation, corruption and violence on the population while trying to bring about change.
Whether it was the intention of those who fight for the independence of the South West and North West regions or not, that is what has happened and continues to happen on the ground. We can no longer keep silent about it.
A wide variety of political opinions exist among Anglophones. At the very least, there are:
• Those who believe in an armed fight for independence
• Those who believe in independence, but not in an armed fight
• Those who believe in regional autonomy of various types = Federation
• Those who still believe in the unitary state (Yes, Anglophones who are part of the regime are still Anglophones).
Personally, I believe in regional autonomy or what some call federation. However, I qlso believe, all the different opinions have a right to exist and to be expressed. We cannot build change, if we intimidate and are violent with those who have a different opinion from our own.
I strongly and openly disagree with the maintenance of the status quo of a unitary state.
I also strongly and openly disagree with the strategy of an armed fight and have stated clearly since 2016 that I believe this strategy will endanger the lives of Anglophones and will do little to advance their rights. The facts on the ground today, have confirmed that belief.
I will not allow anyone to intimidate me or stop me from expressing my opinion. No threat of violence or arrest will affect me. I have fought one oppressor in the person of Mr. Biya and his regime for decades, I will certainly not be afraid of Facebook oppressors living thousands of miles from the people they say they are fighting for, or any other oppressors in whatever form they may come.
From October 2016 to September 2017 the fight for Anglophone rights was largely non-violent. During that period, we counted less than 100 deaths (all these deaths could be attributed to government forces), ZERO refugees, ZERO internally displaced persons, ZERO villages burned.
The choice to take up arms gave the Biya Regime, which we all know to be violent and repressive, the foreseeable opportunity to intensify its violence.
From September 2017 to date the fight for Anglophone rights has included armed groups. During this period, we are counting at the very least 1000 dead (attributed to government, but also to armed groups), about 50,000 refugees and close to 500,000 displaced persons and thousands kidnapped. The education of an estimated 2,500,000 children is in jeopardy. The economies of the North West and South West are in shambles and fertile ground has been created for extreme violence and criminal behavior. The population lives in poverty, fear and confusion.
In my opinion, it is time to reassess the armed strategy and define new ways of fighting the Biya Regime that do not put Anglophones in the midst of violence, kidnappings, murder and general mayhem. You can agree or disagree with my opinion. What you cannot do is intimidate or threaten me.
Some have issued veiled threats to my life. I am amused. At the very least 1,000 people have died in the North West & South West. My life is not so special. If I lose it, and Cameroonians who remain behind gain freedom and better lives, you can imagine I made my peace with that many years ago.
The Biya Regime has its soldiers, those who are fighting for independence have their armed groups. I am part of that majority of Cameroonians who have no guns and no army. We will however not be intimidated or silenced by those who have arms on either side. We will speak our minds and fight for our freedom without violence.
You have killed many, and you may still kill many, including me. Know that however many you kill, there will still be others to rise up and fight for their rights, without violence and without guns.
We believe in our country, Cameroon. We believe in our future, we are on the ground fighting for our rights.
We will not be silenced.