World View: Cameroon Shuts Down Internet for English-Speakers Protesting French-Speakers

Cameroonian President Paul Biya speaks during the regional security summit on Boko Haram threat to African security in Abuja, on May 14, 2016. Regional and Western powers were urged to do more to stop the threat from Boko Haram, as the UN voiced concern about its ties to the Islamic …

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Cameroon shuts down internet for English-speakers protesting French-speakers
  • Brief generational history of Cameroon
  • English-speaking activists face death penalty for separatist protests

Cameroon shuts down internet for English-speakers protesting French-speakers

Anglophone protesters use catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)
Anglophone protesters use catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)

In the hope of quelling protests by the Anglophone (English-speaking) population of Cameroon, the government shut down all internet access to to the Anglophone regions of the country, beginning on January 17. The shutdown has been going on for five weeks, and covers 20% of the population.

The activist group Internet Without Borders has estimated that small businesses have lost over $700,000 because they are no longer able to conduct much of their business without the internet. They add that the outage had blocked entrepreneurs who are an important part of the economic activity of the country. The UN has said that the termination of Internet services was an “appalling violation” of the right to freedom of expression, because it’s a clear attempt by the government to stifle citizen protest actions.

It is interesting that the internet didn’t even exist not too many years ago, and now it’s said to be a basic human right. Africa News and IT News Africa and Newsweek

Brief generational history of Cameroon

(See this 23-Nov-16 World View article for the early history of Cameroon.)

Historically, Cameroon was colonized by a variety of European countries, but by the end of World War two there were two colonies, the Anglophone “British Cameroons” colony and the Francophone “French Cameroun” colony.

The last generational crisis war was the “UPC Revolt,” 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. The outcome was independence in 1961, when the British Cameroons colony and the French Cameroun colony were merged into a single country, and the Anglophones became a disadvantaged and marginalized minority. Today, the Anglophone regions are known as the “Southern Cameroons.”

By 1995, an Anglophone secessionist movement had begun under a group called the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC). This was a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, that splits the population along generational lines, characterized by widespread student riots and demonstrations. The government cracked down on the protesters, though not as violently as in some other countries in Awakening eras (Syria, Burundi, for example). Those protests are continuing today, with younger protesters demanding complete independence, and older Anglophones advocating a semi-autonomous region, but still within the nation of Cameroon. Deutsche Welle and Dibussi Tande Blog – pro-Anglophone (1-Nov-2006)

English-speaking activists face death penalty for separatist protests

The trial of three English-speaking protesters facing the death penalty opened at a military court in Cameroon on Monday. The protesters, Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Aforteka’a Neba and Mancho Bibixy, pleaded not guilty to charges of acts of terrorism, complicity in acts of terrorism, insurrection, propagation of false news, calling for civil war and calling for a return to the federal system. However, the trial was postponed until March 23 to give the prosecution time to gather more evidence.

The defendants are being tried under a 2014 law created to help combat militants from Nigeria-based Islamist militant group Boko Haram whose fighters regularly launch attacks in Cameroon.

The internet shutdown was a government response to protests that began in November, along with a strike by English-speaking teachers, lawyers and students over alleged government bias in favor of French-speaking Cameroonians. At times, the protests have turned violent.

Shutting down the internet to the Southern Cameroons region is the kind of thing that looks like an act of desperation and backfires during a generational Awakening era. Does anyone seriously believe that young protesters are going to stop protesting because the internet has been shut down? It’s much more likely that all the protesters, young and old, will be infuriated by the shutdown, and protest more vigorously, or even become more violent. RFI and Reuters

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Cameroon, Anglophone, Francophone, Internet Without Borders, UPC Revolt, British Cameroons, French Cameroun, Southern Cameroons, Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Aforteka’a Neba, Mancho Bibixy, Nigeria, Boko Haram
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